Saturday 19th April 2014

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It all starts with prospecting

AME BC’s Roundup addresses the strengths and challenges of mineral exploration

by Greg Klein

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Following so closely on the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference, a somewhat related Vancouver event might suggest overkill. But it more likely indicates the unflagging enthusiasm, despite tough times, that draws people to the world’s mining capital. On that note, AME BC presents the Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference 2013, “the world’s premier technical conference for mineral exploration development,” from January 28 to 31.

Prospector Craig Lynes searches for another British Columbia discovery

Prospector Craig Lynes searches for another British Columbia discovery.
(Photo: Teresa Lynes, courtesy AME BC)

Unlike VRIC’s investor focus, Roundup attracts industry insiders, particularly from the geosciences and occupations derived from their work. But this year’s overall theme, Resources for Life: Digging Deeper, is directed at the public.

“‘Resources for life’ addresses a disconnect, a lack of understanding about the materials we use in our daily lives and where they come from,” explains Gavin Dirom, president/CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia. “We’re trying to help people draw the connection. So much of our society depends on mineral resources—they’re vital to our standard of living, our life.”

That doesn’t just mean the economy, he emphasizes. Energy, technology and any number of necessities as well as consumer goods depend on mineral resources.

To fulfil those needs, “prospectors and explorers are literally digging deeper and exploring further, using new methods and techniques to make the next discovery, find the next mineable deposit,” Dirom adds. “It’s imperative we do that because we need those resources.”

This year’s Roundup features trade show exhibits from over 240 companies, short courses of half a day to two days’ duration, technical forums and site visits. Some focal points include the Map Tent, where exploration boffins can study each other’s charts, the Core Shack, featuring rock from various projects around the world, and the Prospectors’ Tent, with maps, samples and photos from very early-stage work.

Roundup Rockhounds brings together geologists with high school students. The Aboriginal Pavilion, new this year, features speeches and group discussions involving representatives of native communities and mining companies.

This year’s Roundup is the 30th annual event and the first since AME BC celebrated its centennial. As such, it’s a time for Dirom to reflect on the industry’s future hopes and challenges.

B.C., he says, “is not perfect by any stretch. But it’s leading the way in showing the world how government, first nations and industry can work together for mutual benefit. That helps create support and certainty, and drives further investment. I think B.C.’s implementing cutting-edge public policy.”

As examples, he points to revenue-sharing agreements involving native communities with Thompson Creek Metals’ TSX:TCM Mount Milligan mine and New Gold’s TSX:NGD New Afton mine. Another such agreement will be announced during Roundup, he says, with more expected this year. “This is an ongoing implementation of a very progressive policy that a lot of people say is world-leading. People are looking to B.C. for positive examples of how to develop mutually beneficial relationships.”

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