The annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention is truly something special. Although unable to attend this year I have been watching reports on the event with considerable interest as it is very much a bellwether of the mineral exploration sector – and that is itself a great indicator of the strength, or otherwise, of the global mining industry and where it is headed. This year’s PDAC took place from March 5th-8th inclusive.
I had been attending the PDAC since 1977 and it has always been one of the industry’s highlights. Back then the whole event took place in the Royal York Hotel and attendance rose to around 7-8,000 at its peak before it transferred to the nearby Toronto Convention Centre, since when it has grown enormously to become what is probably the world’s biggest annual mining event.
Numbers of attendees peaked four years back at around 32,000 when the industry – and gold mining in particular – had been riding high, although had been beginning to turn down. Gold exploration and mining has always been the principal driver of PDAC sentiment – and attendance.
At the time of the 2013 PDAC Convention the gold price was at just under $1,600 on its way down to a low of around $1,060 by December 2015, and numbers attending the event had fallen accordingly, but this year 22,000 delegates were expected, in line with the 2016 figure, and in the event 24,161 passed through the doors indicating a more optimistic outlook for the industry.
The big attendance driver at the PDAC has been the decision, taken some years ago now, to devote a part of the event to the Investors’ Exchange – a free-to-enter element where junior miners and some ancillary service companies could display their wares at a lower cost than at some of the other commercial junior mining events.
As a result the conference/exhibition nowadays completely fills the Convention Centre whereas only a few years ago the whole PDAC could fit into one half of it – initially the North Hall, and then the larger South Hall section, and now both! And still the convention centre seems almost overwhelmed by the numbers of attendees.
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