The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto this year was a roaring success, with crowds of people in both the Investors Exchange (checking out the junior mining companies) and the trade show (where the CMJ booth was). I havent yet heard the numbers but my experience was that we had more visitors to the trade show than ever before, that there were more mining companies with booths than over before, and that the throngs of visitors to the Investors Exchange was more frenzied.
Thank you to the hundreds of people from so many different countries who stopped by our booth and chatted with Ray Perks (publisher), Steve Mak (advertising sales) and me during the four days of the show, which ended March 7. Several of you had pleasant things to say about our magazine and Net News, but even more importantly many of you gave us information, news and a global experience that we would have no other way of getting.
How can I characterize the show this year? It was frenzied and opulent, drawing in people who hadnt been there in years or maybe had never been to the show. I caught up with a geologist with whom I worked with in South Africa in 1975, who now runs a drill equipment company with his wife, and who was visiting the PDAC for the first time ever. I saw many of my geology professors from Queens and Carleton universities, and several former colleagues from the Geological Survey of Canada and the Newfoundland Mines Branch.
I saw people who must be in their 70s who are still working as consultants, or at least were drawn to the convention to see what it looks like in a really good year. On the last morning, a man who might be in the latter category approached our booth. He pointed at the PDAC logo on a book and asked if I knew what that stood for. Then he answered his own question: PDAC stands for mining industrys payday; its finally payday for the mining industry. I couldnt entirely follow his spelling, but his words were an exact summary of the feeling in the heady last hours of the biggest Prospectors show ever. After a lot of years of scrounging and disappointment, we have reached a time in which anyone who wants to work in the exploration, development, engineering, finance, technical or trade areas can find good work, and if youre lucky enough to be a geologist, you can basically write your own job description.
Just think: even I, who have not worked in the bush since a couple of weeks after a close encounter with a bear in the Yukon in August 1981, was offered the chance to do some field work in my summer vacation this year. Good thing Ive got a few months to get in shape for it!
So many countries were actively seeking investment from the mining sector: Colombia, Mauritania, Nigeria, India, Ireland, etc., etc. IR types were trying to cram in as many interviews with media and other interested parties as possible for visiting ministers and other foreign dignitaries. The numbers of people meant that, while virtually everyone you wanted to see was there, you couldnt always find them as the meetings and information sessions spilled over into several buildings nearby Torontos Metro Convention Centre.
And then there were the receptions, suites, public and private parties and dinners. Invitations were exchanged like baseball cards. For a few glittery days we were all entertained in a lavish fashion. Even students, who used to have to sneak into hospitality suites, were the centre of interest as recruiters and companies vied for their attention.
I couldnt help thinking, as I swilled a shot of liqueur flecked with gold leaf, that books will be written someday about this era.