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PDAC 2010

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The next generation of miners add value for shareholders in every project: this was the message at this year’s PDAC.

The sweeping crowds at the Toronto PDAC 2010 convention proved that the worst is behind those in the mining sector. The lesson taken from the economic meltdown? Miners in Canada and beyond have learned that everyone—from junior explorers to top-tier producers—has to ensure value creation for their biggest shareholders and most unassuming stakeholders, so they have the support they need during the rockiest times.

However, there was no air of “hard times” at PDAC this year—as the event drew in a record 22,000 delegates, who filled the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (and surrounding restaurants at lunchtime) and featured 1,000 exhibitors in the trade show and investors exchange. George Media has attended PDACs before, and put simply, nothing compared with the fanfare of this year’s event.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange – Mining Investment Show was a buzz of activity, spurring offshoot company meetings, dinners and galas, and overall, successful seminars and presentations. PDAC 2010 was awash with new stories from explorers and developers from Canadian industry and international enterprises.

Although the convention began on Saturday, March 7, George Media arrived on Monday to begin investigating “the next big thing” in mining.

Day 1: Monday, March 9

Jon Baird, President of PDAC held opening ceremonies for the convention, and was on hand throughout the convention to meet about various issues affecting the industry, including holding a press conference on Bill C-300, a bill that PDAC remains staunchly against. The Association has reason to, as the bill signals to the world that Canada’s feds don’t have confidence in our national mining sector and ability to operate responsibly abroad.

Bill C-300 is a private member’s bill that was allegedely created to promote accountability in the resource sector, however, according to PDAC and mining supporters, the bill uses “misguided methodology.” The bill, if passed, will allow those with any grievance against a company to file complaints, with no accountability, against only Canadian mineral companies working in developing countries.

It seems like a reasonable idea in theory, but realistically, governments and international enterprises agree that Canadian explorers and miners are among the most corporately responsible companies. According to a PDAC press release, while Bill C-300 was intended to be modest, if used “improperly, investigations could be launched against many other companies with allegations that they have violated as yet undefined corporate social responsibility standards.”

In any event, many turned up at the press conference to hear what experts have to say about the bill. Donald Coxe, strategy advisor to BMO Financial Group, spoke to PDAC 2010 delegates at the PDAC-CIM luncheon later in the week, urging them to fight Bill C-300 and other anti-mining initiatives. He was reported as saying the bill means: “you’ve got to stand up to a lot of over-fed, over-financed opposition.”

Monday’s activities weren’t all focused on opposition in the mining sector. Although only about 30 per cent of exhibitors in the investors exchange were companies actually currently producing, the attendees looking to invest in some of those companies were certainly geared up to find out about new deposits and projects. One investor said that it was no surprise to him that PDAC was jammed—with thousands more attendees than previous conferences. “Everyone wants to find out about the next big thing” he reasoned, and we’re willing to bet at George Media that he’s right, considering the magnitude of attention companies’ booths received.

A big deal for many attendees was running into (some quite literally) hockey legend Gordie Howe, who was on hand signing autographs (we have suspicions he’s a major investor in one of the producing companies). However, although Howe was one of our favourite sights to see, we couldn’t help being drawn to company booths staffed by people we’d never met before. Our Monday “companies to watch” were: Antares Mining, Capstone Mining, Jaguar Mining, and IAMGOLD. In the country presentation rooms, Hong Kong and Greenland were featured.

Monday’s afternoon activities included an info session for students and recent grads, and a talk on skills shortages in the resource sector, and Monday night featured an awards dinner and presentations. Delegates to the convention went home after Day 1 with ideas about value creation, and significant interest in the next day’s events.

Day 2: Tuesday, March 10

Day 2 of PDAC started with a bang: Boart Longyear kindly showed us around their booth in the trade show area, explaining their newest products, which were very impressive to say the least.

On Tuesday, we met with familiar faces to talk about the past year, and ran into some old friends who we’ve featured in the magazine before, namely Tuesday’s “companies to watch”: True North Gems, Dianor Resources, Stornoway Diamonds, Noront Resources, and of course, Copper Fox. Prior Copper Fox President Guillermo Salazar has been out of the company’s dealings for a while now, but said PDAC was a great place to catch up and told us he’s "looking for his next venture."

In the country presentation room, Peru was the country of focus. Another Tuesday highlight was the packed house for the “Women in Mining” networking session. There was also an Aboriginal Presentation Room set up during the day, and the evening saw a buzzing trade show reception.

Day 3: Wednesday, March 11

Companies to watch for on Wednesday, March 11 were Randgold Resources, our die-hard favourites in African gold mining, Kirkland Lake Gold, Victory Nickel (featured in this month’s issue), Eldorado Gold, and several stars hailing or operating in Australasia: Allied Gold, Intrepid Mines, Minerals and Metals Group, and Northgate Minerals Corporation.

The day was an early one, as George Media was invited to an exclusive breakfast meeting with Randgold Resources, and then headed to explore country presentation rooms for Brazil and Nigeria. There was a strong Africa focus throughout PDAC this year, which was timely for George Media, having just launched The African Business Journal (TABJ). Our friends from MineAfrica hosted a morning seminar on Tuesday of the conference, coverage which will be featured in the May issue of TABJ.

Overall, PDAC was a resounding success, and one can only hope that the success of the resource sector follows, as investor confidence climbs and exploration budgets do the same. For more industry event coverage, read George Media publications every month: The Canadian Business Journal, The International Resource Journal, The American Business Journal, The Australian Business Journal and The African Business Journal.

For more information on PDAC or future conventions, visit www.pdac.ca.

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