TORONTO (March 22, 2011) Where the world’s mineral industry meets just about sums up this year’s PDAC International Convention. Total attendance was a record-breaking 27,700, up by 26% or 5,000 from last year. Attendees included registered delegates, exhibitors, investors, speakers, sponsors, students, media, staff and volunteers.
In all, 1,000 companies showcased their discoveries and wares at the Trade Show and Investors Exchange in an exhibit space covering the equivalent of eight football pitches. Sixty companies were featured in the Core Shack.
More than 50 foreign delegations, many of them headed by government ministers, attended. The largest contingents came from Argentina, Chile, China, India, Mexico and Peru. Many countries booked rooms where their governments could promote mining and investment opportunities, and the crowds flocked to find out more about Armenia, Bolivia, Portugal, Australia, Greenland, Brazil. Ecuador, South Africa, Peru, Chile, Colombia and India.
Canadian politicians were much in evidence this year as well. They included four federal ministers: Christian Paradis, minister of natural resources; Peter Van Loan, minister of international trade; Leona Aglukkaq, minister of health; and John Duncan, minister of Indian and northern affairs. Provincial mines ministers came from British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, and Ontario.
The PDAC was pleased to welcome Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo who, along with PDAC President Scott Jobin-Bevans and Mr. Paradis, participated in the opening ceremonies and then toured the convention. In his address, Mr. Atleo said that he was expecting the 149 mining agreements between First Nations communities and companies currently in effect in Canada would likely double within the next few years.
Aboriginal issues were a major focus this year with close to 400 aboriginal representatives attending. A Monday morning program of speakers examined international collaborative approaches to capacity development and wealth creation for indigenous communities.
This was followed in the afternoon by an aboriginal forum, which included three signing ceremonies commemorating agreements between mineral companies and aboriginal communities and a panel discussion on how skills development can be accelerated to enable aboriginal young people to find careers in the mineral industry.
The convention was covered in the media by some 225 journalists and reporters from Canada, Australia, Europe, Latin America and the United States.
With base metal prices at near record highs and surging consumer demand from China, India and Latin America, convention attendees were making some great deals.
Higher commodity prices will continue through the year, says Ernst and Young. It forecasts aluminum and copper prices will rise by 33 per cent, coal and iron by 25 to 30 per cent, and gold by 10 to 15 per cent.
And as the American economy continues to cause grave concern, gold was on everyone’s lips — but what about silver? Its day is coming, said some.
Then there are the rare earth metals, which, one speaker noted, are enjoying an “Elvis moment.” A half-day session devoted to the metals included a presentation on their use in automotive and clean technology.
Attracting the attention of convention attendees and of many Toronto residents was the Fénix (Phoenix) capsule which stood proudly on the ceremonial level of the convention centre. On public display for the first time in North America, the capsule was one of three designed and constructed by the Chilean Navy and NASA to rescue 33 Chilean miners trapped for 69 days close to 700 metres underground in the San José mine.
Laurence Golborne, Chile’s mining minister, was hailed publicly by many for his leadership in the rescue of the miners in October 2010. He also received a special achievement award from the PDAC.
Another person who was widely recognized was Shawn Ryan, winner of this year’s PDAC’s Bill Dennis Award for prospecting success. After a 15-year search, Ryan is thought to have discovered a source of the Yukon’s placer gold and has, almost single-handedly, brought on the territory’s second gold rush. With his wife and business partner, Cathy Wood, in the audience, Ryan captivated the capacity crowd at the awards banquet with his thoughts on prospecting and the importance of the prospector.
Other highlights included a series of sessions on corporate social responsibility. The series, a first for the PDAC, resulted from a call for expressions of interest and included social responsibility for small and medium exploration companies, a model mining development agreement, and understanding and managing human rights risks in mineral exploration.
To everyone who made this event such a resounding success – to the convention planning committee already working on next year’s event; to our staff, contractors, and many volunteers; to our speakers, delegates, sponsors, exhibitors, supporters, and all who participated in PDAC 2011 – thank you.
PDAC 2012 will be held from Sunday, March 4 to Wednesday, March 7. See you there!