PDAC recognizes Canada’s best at its annual meeting
By Steve Fiscor, Editor-in-Chief
Investors inspect samples at the Core Shack at PDAC 2015. More than 23,500 people attended the event which was held in Toronto during March.
More than 23,500 people turned out for the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention, which took place March 1-2 in Toronto. Billed as the largest exploration and mining event, it has a little something for everyone involved in this aspect of mining, including investors, analysts, mining executives, geologists, government officials and students.
“We consider this a very successful year. Attendee feedback has been extremely positive and the number of attendees is similar to last year,” said PDAC President Rod Thomas. “The quality of networking and learning opportunities continues to be a prime attractor for attendees.” In addition to his responsibilities with PDAC, Thomas is currently the general manager and director of Votorantim Metals Canada. He has worked in mineral exploration and development in both the senior and junior mining sectors as an exploration geologist and executive.
The PDAC 2015 Convention started with a series of positive announcements supporting Canada’s mineral exploration and mining industry, including the federal government’s renewal of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) and the appointment of Jeffrey Davidson as Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor for the extractive sector. The federal government, in partnership with the Ontario government, jointly announced the study of an all-weather transportation corridor in the Ring of Fire region. In addition, the Government of Canada signed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of South Africa.
“The provincial and federal governments in Canada are important partners in creating conditions that allow the mineral industry to flourish nationally and internationally,” said PDAC Executive Director Andrew Cheatle. “We look forward to further building upon the constructive activities that occurred at PDAC 2015.” Now in its 83rd year, the PDAC Convention is more diverse than ever before. A number of events, including the CSR Event Series, Aboriginal Program and Investors Exchange, garnered overwhelming support from the general public.
Exploration Budgets Continue to Retreat
SNL Mining & Metals distributed a report at PDAC that explained how mining companies, reacting to soft market conditions, had sharply reduced their mineral exploration activity. In its Corporate Exploration Strategies (CES) report, SNL said the industry had suffered a 26% decline in worldwide nonferrous metals exploration budgets. The mining industry’s total spend was calculated to be $11.4 billion in 2014, down for $15.2 billion in 2013 and the record $21.5 billion in 2012.
Despite these figures, the outlook at PDAC 2015 was good and slightly more optimistic than 2014. “For juniors, there is some light at the end of tunnel, but we are certainly not out of the woods yet,” Thomas said. “There is still no money for juniors. No one is paying for ideas right now. A junior needs to have a tangible asset that may be developed at some point.” Citing the Goldcorp acquisition of Probe Mines, he said signs of M&A activity are positive for the business.
In terms of the overall convention, PDAC offers a lot of value and it appeals to many aspects of the industry. Delegates travel from more than 100 countries to Toronto in March—that alone is saying something. Attendance has grown from 14,000 in 2006 to more than 30,000 in 2012 and 2103. “Last year attendance dropped to 25,000,” Thomas said. “In terms of overall numbers, that was the major correction.”
The floor space for the convention was reconfigured this year. Usually there is a clear separation between the Investor Exchange and the Trade Show. This year, equipment vendors and service providers were interspersed with mining companies in the exchange. “We expanded into the North Hall this year,” Thomas said. “We had an opportunity to secure that space. We put the Core Shack and the Prospectors Tent in the North Hall. We had a wait list on the North Hall and we had some openings in the Investor Exchange. We asked those wait-listed companies if they would like to exhibit in the Investors Exchange. Who knows? They may never want to move.”
The PDAC tries its best to be innovative with short courses, the technical program, the investor exchange, an aboriginal program, and a health and safety program, Thomas explained. The PDAC is also active throughout the entire year. “The association would not be considered lobbyists, but they do advocate for mining,” Thomas said. “We spend a lot of time talking to politicians, particularly in Ottawa. We try to advance cases that we think will benefit the mining business. We advocated for the mineral exploration tax credit, which benefits the Canadian domestic exploration industry. We didn’t get all of what we asked for. When we started asking for a little more than we normally do, the oil price dropped and we understand the government is constrained. We’re thankful, but we will keep asking.”
Canada Makes Adjustment for Mineral Exploration
The PDAC 2015 Convention started with a flurry of announcements that support Canada’s mineral exploration and mining industry. Federal Minister of Finance, Joe Oliver, announced the government’s intention to renew the METC, a financial instrument that helps Canadian junior mining companies raise capital for projects in Canada. Oliver also announced a proposed change to the government’s treatment of the Canadian Exploration Expense (CEE) program to include certain environmental and Aboriginal consultation expenses incurred prior to obtaining a license or permit as a Canadian Exploration Expense.
Greg Rickford, Federal Minister of Natural Resources and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, stood with Ontario Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Michael Gravelle, to announce a joint study of an all-weather transportation corridor in the region. “We know there is tremendous mineral potential in Northern Ontario and this is a very positive step,” said PDAC Executive Director Andrew Cheatle, “that can help advance community access, mineral exploration and development in the Ring of Fire region.”
In addition, Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade, announced the appointment of Jeffrey Davidson as Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor for the extractive sector. “We are very supportive of the government’s selection of Mr. Davidson,” said Thomas. “Having worked in industry, non-profit and academic settings, Jeffrey Davidson is well-known as a capable and highly regarded individual. We look forward to working with him and the Office of the CSR Counsellor in its new, re-focused role.”
PDAC Honors Six Industry Leaders at Awards Dinner
The PDAC recognized six groups at its evening awards dinner. The event, which some refer to as the Oscars for the Canadian mining industry, showcases the achievements of companies, individuals and groups in the mineral exploration and mining sector by highlighting the best in domestic and international mineral discovery, mine development, Aboriginal achievement, environmental and social responsibility, and distinguished service.
|Ivanhoe Mines President Robert Friedland presented the Thayer Lindsley Award to two members of the Kamoa discovery team, Dr. David Broughton (left) and Thomas Rogers (center).|
David Palmer, president and CEO of Probe Mines Ltd., was the Bill Dennis Award winner for a Canadian mineral discovery or prospecting success. He received the award for the Borden gold project, a discovery located near Chapleau, Ontario.
The Borden Gold Project is a new gold discovery that continues to evolve, grow and improve with continued exploration (See May 2014 E&MJ, p. 36). Located in a previously unexplored area of Ontario, the discovery could potentially be the beginning of a significant new gold district in Canada. The company’s June 2014 technical report estimated a high-grade gold resources with potential for underground extraction totaling 1.6 million oz of gold in the indicated resource category (9.3 million metric tons grading 5.39 grams of gold per mt), and 430,000 oz of gold in the tnferred resource category (3 million mt grading 4.37 g/mt of gold) at a 2.5 g/mt gold cut-off. The deposit still remains open for expansion.
Matt Manson, president and CEO of Stornoway Diamond Corp., was presented with the Viola R. MacMillan Award for company or mine development. He received the award for leading Stornoway’s team in the continuing development of the company’s Renard Project located in the James Bay region of Québec. The team completed its $946 million project financing package in July 2014, more than 13 years after the project’s initial discovery. The project is now under construction, with production scheduled to commence in the second half of 2016. Manson took the Renard project through its various phases of development and has raised the financing necessary to construct the Renard mine, despite extremely difficult markets. During this period, he also built strong relationships with the Québec Government, the Cree Nation, as well as with the local communities of Chibougamau and Chapais by making them active partners with Stornoway.
The Ivanhoe Mines Kamoa discovery team won the Thayer Lindsley Award for international mineral discoveries. The team received the award for discovery of the Kamoa copper deposit in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The deposit is located in the Central African Copperbelt on the western edge of the Katangan basin, approximately 25 km west of the Kolwezi district.
|Matt Manson, president and CEO of Stornoway Diamond Corp., received the Viola R. MacMillan Award for leading Stornoway’s team in the continuing development of the company’s Renard Project located in the James Bay region of Québec.||Bill Pearson received the Distinguished Service Award for his outstanding contribution and dedication to Canada’s mineral and exploration industry in which he has worked for over 40 years.|
The deposit is a new and blind grassroots discovery in an area previously written off by other explorers because of its lack of Mines Series rocks, as well as of surface mineralization. A 2013 independent mineral resource estimate ranked Kamoa as Africa’s largest high-grade copper discovery and the world’s largest, undeveloped high-grade copper discovery. The Kamoa discovery team was led by Dr. David Broughton, executive vice president of exploration at Ivanhoe Mines, and Thomas Rogers, director of exploration, African Mining Consultants. In addition, the team included David Edwards, geology manager, Kamoa Project, Ivanhoe Mines; Dr. Douglas Haynes, director, Douglas Haynes Discovery Pty. Ltd.; Dr. Ross McGowan, formerly of African Mining Consultants and currently CEO, Armada Exploration Ltd.; and Steven McMullan, P. Geo., site manager at Ivanhoe Mines’ Kipushi Project, and principal geoscientist, African Mining Consultants.
Bill Pearson was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. He recieved the award for his outstanding contribution and dedication to Canada’s mineral and exploration industry in which he has worked for over 40 years. He convened the first meeting of the Committee for the Professional Registration of Geoscientists of Ontario (CPRGO) in March 1989, which he chaired for seven years. He was President of the Association of Geoscientists of Ontario (AGO) from 1996 to 2000 and was the founding President of the Association of Professional Geoscientists of Ontario (APGO) from 2000 to 2003. In addition to his work for the geoscience profession in Ontario, Bill was instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists (CCPG now Geoscientists Canada), where he served as one of CCPG’s founding directors.
PDAC recognized Noront Resources Ltd. with its Environmental and Social Responsibility Award. The company received the award for its accomplishments and commitment to social initiatives in Northern Ontario. Over the years, Noront has expanded its community engagement program to include education, skills training, youth programming and economic development in the area. The company has built a partnership with Matawa’s Kiikenomaga Kikenjigewen Employment and Training Services (KKETS) and Confederation College in Thunder Bay to create the Ring of Fire Aboriginal Training Alliance (ROFATA). Noront also supports programs aimed at overcoming barriers to higher education among Aboriginal communities, including Mining Matters, an organization that educates students about Canada’s geology and mineral resources, and DAREarts, a movie-making youth camp that helps students better understand mining and a donations and sponsorship program.
Sam Bosum won the Skookum Jim Award for Aboriginal achievement in the mineral industry. He received the award for his work bridging the gap between the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation and the mineral industry, as well as his continued efforts to encourage and mentor Cree youth to pursue their future careers, including that of geologists. Bosum has been working with mining and exploration companies in the Chibougamau region of Québec for nearly 50 years. He is currently president of Native Exploration Services, an Aboriginal-owned company that offers significant employment and business opportunities in the region and is considered a major employer in the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation. Sam has been a member of the Band Council of the Oujé-Bougoumou Cree Nation for the past 38 years. During this time he has served as Deputy Chief and was elected as Chief in 2001, a position he held for eight years.