Despite global economic uncertainties and industry concerns for junior miners and producers, the 30,000 attendees of the 81st Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) International Convention, Trade Show & Investors Exchange enjoyed an upbeat consensus with strong statistics this week.

Though Toronto hosted general worries over Eurozone debt crises, a slow U.S. economy, and decreasing Chinese demands among its executives, investors, geologists, analysts and delegations, there was good news to be had. In particular, the SNL Metals Economics Group’s 23rd edition of Corporate Exploration Strategies, specially released for the convention, estimated the industry’s nonferrous metals exploration budget increased to $21.5 billion in 2012.

In addition to recent discoveries and geological trends, several of the technical presentations discussed rising costs, the uncertainties in interpreting exploration data and the grade differences between the feasibility studies and what the operations extract.

Concerns about access to capital for junior explorers and developers also emerged. According to John Kaiser, editor, Kaiser Research Online, of the 527 mining and exploration companies exhibiting at PDAC 2013, 114 of them (22%) had $200,000 or less in working capital remaining. “That’s enough to stay alive for one more year doing absolutely nothing,” Kaiser said. “One has to wonder: Why are they here?” Nearly half of them (47%), Kaiser explained, are trading at less than $0.20 per share.

During a luncheon, several experts debated financial strategies to revive the junior miners, such as debt, equity financing, and royalty or third-party offtake agreements. Eric Sprott, a well-recognized mine financier in Toronto, recommended that juniors “gut it out” if they can. Another financier, Ned Goodman, president and CEO, Dundee Corp., said tongue-in-cheek that they should consider selling to a major and then buy the property back after they ruin it. www.pdac.ca

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