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Plagued by the worst outlook in recent memory, global miners are thinking about one thing more than any other as they gather for the industry’s largest annual gathering: survival.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention this week in Toronto is the largest international gathering of its kind. As the first of the calendar year, it is closely watched for signs of what’s to come for the next 12 months, especially for the junior mining sector, the lifeblood of majors that rely on it to discover assets for them to develop.
“Only the strong will survive,” said Ioannis Tsitos, chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Eagle Mountain Gold Corp., which owns a small gold property in Guyana. “What’s happening now is part of natural selection.”
Metals producers have become accustomed in recent months to tough times, starting with ever-embattled share prices. Multibillion-dollar writedowns on assets touted just a few years ago in bold bets on growing global metals demand, add to the bleak outlook. Equally large cost overruns and massive asset divestitures by industry leaders show that the industry is in clear retrenchment.
The message was loud and clear at the the conference on Sunday, where prospectors Clayton and Sara Larche stood at the top of an escalator flogging mining claims the old-fashioned way.
“Mining Claims for Sale,” read the sign stapled to the back of Mr. Larche’s suit as he stood at the top of an escalator leading into the convention centre. He and his wife are selling mineral claims to lots ranging in size from 40 acres to 40,000 acres in Northern Ontario. “I’ve been getting a lot of attention,” he said.
As many as 30,000 industry professionals – explorers, drillers, miners, bankers, lawyers, investors – began to converge on Toronto over the weekend, filling up hotels with guests from all corners of the globe ahead of PDAC – a convention, trade show and investor exchange all rolled into one.
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