Mood at PDAC 2015 ‘cautiously optimistic’ (Northern Miner – March 4, 2015)

The Northern Miner, first published in 1915, during the Cobalt Silver Rush, is considered Canada’s leading authority on the mining industry.

This year’s annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention drew in 23,578 attendees from over 100 countries. While the crowd for the world’s largest mining event, held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, was slightly smaller than last year’s over 25,000 participants, the mood was relatively more positive, PDAC president Rod Thomas told The Northern Miner.

Here’s an edited transcript of an interview with Thomas from the four-day event, which ended on March 4:

The Northern Miner: How has the PDAC convention evolved since you have been attending the event? How long have you been involved with the PDAC?

Rod Thomas: I first came here as a student in the 1970s. And for a student, in those days, it was the free sweets and so and so forth, and that was the main attraction. But, I have been coming for close to 40 years, I suppose. It has grown a lot, of course. Back then, it was held in the Royal York and I think we probably had an attendance in the order of 2,000 people.

I didn’t really start getting involved as a volunteer until the early 1990s. At that time, one of the directors asked me to help them to vet or set up the Investors Exchange. We had 18 booths in a small room in the Royal York. And it was free, at that time. So, there were a lot of people interested in exhibiting, so we had to go through the list of companies to make sure that everything was legit, so to speak. But we didn’t do a very good job because Bre-X was one of those companies, as we later found out, of course.

So that was my first involvement with the PDAC. I participated on the convention planning committee and looked after some of the technical sessions and the core shack for a number of years. Then eventually in 2006, I became chair of the convention and ran the convention in 2006, 2007 and 2008. In those three years, we went from 14,500 in ’06 to 17,000 and something in ’07 and in 2008 it was over 20,000. And that of course coincided with the last gasp, if you will, in the boom in the commodities, culminating in the great financial crisis in August of 2008.

TNM: What role does the PDAC convention play in the industry?

RT: It’s a great networking opportunity, right. We always say it is where the world’s mineral industry meets. We have delegates from over 100 countries. That Investors Exchange that was 18 booths back in the early 1990s is 550 or something right now. And, we do charge now, it is no longer free, but we don’t vet companies any more.

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