Big Event draws big names in mining – by Benjamin Aubé (Timmins Daily Press – May 29, 2013)

The Daily Press is the city of Timmins broadsheet newspaper.

TIMMINS – Everything’s bigger in Timmins. OK, maybe that’s not exactly how the saying goes. But for this week anyway, it rings true.

True to its name, The Big Event, being held this weekend at the McIntyre Community Centre, has grown to become Canada’s largest annual mining expo.

“It’s a big deal,” said Mark Utting, Lake Shore Gold’s vice-president of investor relations, as the McIntyre Ballroom began to fill up prior to the opening banquet on Tuesday evening. “It started about five years ago around the centennial celebration for the city. It’s great, and this room will be packed. It’s been packed every year.”

Utting was just one of the guest speakers representing some of the more exciting gold mining projects in the region. “It puts a very bright light on the community for a few days,” said Utting. “People outside of Timmins know about it, and it’s just become part of the city.

“I go literally around the world meeting investors and stuff. The first time I ever went to Switzerland, I brought a map to show where Timmins is. They all know where Timmins is. It’s one of the best-known gold camps in the world. It has that reputation anyways, but to have a show like this just puts an exclamation point on it.”

Utting said he works out of Lake Shore’s head office in Toronto, but ends up spending quite a bit of time in Timmins every year. That’s why the Big Event is so timely for the local industry.

“This is sort of the time of year when we like to bring investors up,” explained Utting. “We do a lot of site tours – I’m also here for the show this week – but the most common reason I come is to bring investors up.

“For us, our best marketing tool is to have fund managers and investors come up to the (Timmins-West) mine. For one, we’re very proud of it, it’s a very well-built mine, it’s a new mine, it’s something we’re very proud of. But the other thing is it makes it easier for me and somebody in New York to talk about the mine, it just puts it into perspective. It makes my job easier if I can bring investors up here, not just for that day, but also when I talk to them in the future.”

Utting added that it’s one thing for investors to speak to an executive such as himself. It’s another for them to meet the actual people on the ground, the managers and the workers that make the operation happen.

That’s where people like Dan Gagnon come in.

“I’m basically going to give the crowd an overview of what’s happened at Lake Shore Gold in 2012 since we were last year a year ago,” said Gagnon, the company’s senior vice-president of operations. “Time has really flown. We’re still quite busy at building our two operations, the Timmins West and the Bell Creek mines, and we’re at the tail end of our mill expansion where we’re basically investing $100 million to build it and get to mining 3,000 tons of ore per day later this year. If you go back about a year-and-a-half, we were doing about 1,750 tons per day.”

Though the Big Event is a highly social event, many people who show up are job-seekers, investors and equipment manufacturers who are there for serious business.

With the price of gold dropping and hovering around $1,350 per ounce recently, Lake Shore had to let go 5% of its workforce earlier this week.

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