Coming up next week is my second-favourite time of year, the annual meeting of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. My preferred celebration, the Holiday Season at the end of the year, is a time of gift giving, wonderful food and drink, and of renewing friendships and family ties. The same can be said of the PDAC convention.
Beginning Sunday afternoon March 9, a few thousand experts and explorationists will gather in Toronto. They will certainly be renewing friendships. This is the one week a year independent prospectors have an opportunity to meet so many like-minded people in one place. They will indulge in plentiful food and probably more than enough drinks. And there just may be a gift or two, a distant claim or deposit with the potential to make its owner rich.
The PDAC meeting has a long history of colourful characters. Stories include those about Viola McMillan who, during her two decades as president of the association, was resplendent in a floor-length gown, long gloves and a jewelled tiara. There is an old rumour that a driller who had over-imbibed tried coring the hotel floor. I remember whispered conversations in elevators between a vendor and potential buyer as they examined rock chips pulled from a pocket. Fortunes could be made or missed.
What makes this gathering so successful is that there is always a wealth of professional information. Presentations, core shacks and trade show exhibitors are vital to the convention. Once participants have sharpened their knowledge of geology and used the newest survey techniques to identify promising sites, they need only find the money to drill the mother lode. This is where the PDAC shinesconnecting prospectors with pocketbooks.
The financing of mineral exploration and development has become very sophisticated, and the PDAC convention reflects that. The program is global in outlook with sessions on worldwide issues and markets, opportunities in China, and a special discussion of Canada’s securities regulatory system. There is much to learn about environmental responsibility, new discoveries, risk, Internet-based resources, and cutting-edge geophysics. Courses covering metallurgy, indicator minerals, professional registration, and junior capital markets are all important. The PDAC packs more into four days than any individual can absorb, so attendants have to pinpoint the "can’t miss" sessions or be prepared to be in several places at once.
The complete program, registration forms, and information about accommodations in Toronto are all available at the Prospectors’ web site, www.pdac.ca.