The river of money flowing into junior mining companies has a lot of prospectors grinning widely. The record-setting 12,000 energetic delegates at the 2004 PROSPECTORS & DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA meeting in Toronto earlier this week, were evidence of renewed optimism in the exploration industry. A report in the Globe & Mail newspaper put the figure for junior mining investments at $3 billion last year. That's a lot of optimism.
A chat with several brokers revealed that most of the money is coming from Canadian underwritings. European investment appears smaller, in part because much of it is funnelled through Canada. Either way, Canadian juniors are the beneficiaries. The number of projects underway and planned just keeps growing. And the more properties that are drilled, the better the chances of finding a mine.
Everyone's mood at the PDAC was more upbeat than it has been in several years. All metals prices are rising at the same time, led by gold. There were even rumours that gold will go to $1,000/oz. Could it? I asked one prospector from Northern Ontario, and he said, "The price of gold is just right at $400." I'd call the gentleman a realist, not a dreamer.
Over 240 companies were represented at the Trade Show. They all did a brisk business, and next year's show has a waiting list for booth space. Delegates crowded booths giving away wine, carvings, toy polar bears, and gold bars. One enterprise offered an antique piece of eight recovered from the wreck of a Spanish galleon off the coast of Ecuador. The best prize was offered by BHP BILLITON DIAMONDSa 1.07-carat Aurius diamond from the Ekati mine. The stone was gorgeous.
The importance of the PDAC was underscored by the participation of governments from around the world as well as Canada. Running quickly down the alphabet we find Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Fiji, Ghana, Greenland, Ireland, Japan, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the United States, Uruguay, and Zambia. Canadian provinces and the federal government were there. The geological surveys of both the U.S. and Canada were represented.
All the equipment and services any explorationist would ever need were represented at the Trade Show. Besides drills, geophysical services, maps, and staking supplies, delegates could compare air transportation, stock exchanges, universities, insurance companies, telecommunications, lawyers and much more. There were even a handful of publications, including CMJ and the Northern Miner. We at CMJ want to thank everyone who stopped by our booth. It is always a pleasure to see old friends and delightful to make new ones.
The Investors Exchange has also grown. There were about 250 juniors displaying drill core, rock samples, maps, and high hopes on two floors of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Participants were given the opportunity to make 30-minute presentations to potential investors, and these were well attended. Other people crowded around every booth and kept the companies' representatives talking non-stop. This is where deals are made, and some of these deals are going to be winners for everyone involved.
It's hard to imagine junior mining investment in 2004 could top last year's $3-billion level, but I am beginning to think it is possible. News releases of underwritings and private placements cross my desk in astounding numbers. This activity adds up to great faith in Canadian explorationists and great excitement for the PDAC convention a year from now.