Thunder Bay Chronicle-Journal is the daily newspaper of Northwestern Ontario.
Given the depressed state of metal prices, they could be forgiven for feeling a little morose. But the Ontario Prospectors Association says it expects to attract more than 300 participants today and Wednesday to its annual Thunder Bay mines and minerals symposium.
And the mood should be upbeat, despite price drops in key metals like copper and gold. “You get a bunch of prospectors, geologists and junior miners in one room and you can’t help feeling optimistic,” OPA executive director Garry Clark remarked Monday from his Thunder Bay office.
“I think people are cautiously optimistic about the market’s ability to raise money for exploration,” Clark added.
“The minerals (in the ground) aren’t going anywhere.”
Last year’s event attracted about 500 participants, but that was before metal prices crashed and many companies — including major Northwestern Ontario industry players like Barrick Gold and Cliffs Natural Resources — downsized or halted operations.
“Not a lot of people saw (the crash) coming — the optimism was still in the air,” Clark said.
He said many participants attend the symposium to network and make contacts.
The two-day event at the Valhalla Inn is to include about 90 exhibitors and visits from Northwestern Ontario industry players such as Noront Resources, as well as Northern Development and Mines deputy minister George Ross.
Noront is proposing to build a nickel mine in the Ring of Fire mining belt about 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.
Clark said he expects the symposium to also hear about new platinum-group metal discoveries being worked about 25 km north of Thunder Bay.
Individual prospectors are also expected to step up to the microphone to make formal presentations about their projects, something new this year, said Clark.