The mining industry’s annual bash roared into life on Sunday against an unfamiliar backdrop – a market where metal prices are no longer falling and share values in the sector are actually climbing.
After four years of brutal, grinding decline, the beleaguered industry is finally enjoying a spurt of good news. Gold prices have sprinted to their best start to a year since 1980, while even grimy industrial laggards such as copper and iron ore have displayed twitches of life in recent weeks.
There is, to be sure, a contradiction in these trends – gold tends to be most popular during times of economic stress, while base metals thrive when growth is strong and sure – but nobody at the opening day of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention in Toronto was in a mood to question the spate of upbeat developments.
The four-day get-together is the biggest in the global mining industry. PDAC parties are legendary and so is the amount of alcohol consumed in its hospitality suites.
Despite the social lubrication – or perhaps because of it – the convention has earned a reputation as the place where miners come to do business, from landing jobs to finding investors.
“It’s a huge networking opportunity,” said Rod Thomas, president of PDAC. “It’s the one time of year when people in the industry can count on seeing all their colleagues from around the world, face to face, and a lot of deals get done as a result.”
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