This year’s Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention, held Mar. 5-8, marked a return to optimism for the mining sector, with more than 24,000 attending, up from 22,000 last year and 23,500 in 2015.
While the numbers were a far cry from peak attendance above 30,000 in 2012 and 2013, the energy and enthusiasm in the Investors’ Exchange was palpable. As one delegate said: “You’d think there was a boom on!”
But the industry is still smarting from the smack down it suffered over the last few years, as commodity prices retreated from the historic highs of the supercycle and poor capital spending decisions came back to bite.
With that sting still fresh in mind, there seemed to be an air of cautious/tempered confidence at the convention. One of the big themes of PDAC 2017 was an effort to dissect what went wrong to avoid repeating same mistakes as things get better, or as one of the technical sessions was named: “Seeking better outcomes in the next cycle.”
Other key themes of PDAC 2017 included:
Amec Foster Wheeler demos Virtual Reality technology.
All agree that innovation and bringing new ways of thinking into the industry are crucial to its future success. Some of the innovations highlighted at PDAC included the use of Big Data and artificial intelligence in mineral exploration. Another notable trend was the use of virtual/ augmented reality experiences being offered, either for training or planning purposes.
Off site, Goldcorp and Integra Mining held the Disrupt Mining event, with five mining innovators competing for $1 million in prize money.
There was also a growing recognition that the industry has to do a lot better on the social and environmental front to earn its social licence. The need for partnership with communities and the creation of shared values with all stakeholders over just “engagement” was stressed by the Development Partner Institute and others during the CSR programming.
This session in the aboriginal program highlighted reconciliation as the new context for building relationships with First Nations communities, as well as the potential for the mining sector to play an important role in the process of reconciliation across the country.
Federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr announced the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC), which was set to expire at the end of March, for another year.