AME BC’s Roundup 2015 encourages both technical excellence and community engagement
by Greg Klein
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If nothing else, the occasional downturn offers an opportunity to pause and reflect. That explains the theme of this year’s Roundup, Intelligent Exploration. Presented by the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia in Vancouver from January 26 to 29—and preceded by three days of related events—the world’s premier conference of its kind now marks its 32nd year. And despite the industry slowdown, Roundup has expanded some of its features as it settles into new and bigger surroundings at the Vancouver Convention Centre East.
Roundup’s purpose, explains conference chairperson Kendra Johnston, “is primarily to bring the exploration community together to share information about what all parties have been doing and the progress they’ve made on all fronts of exploration, from the actual geological/technical work to the peripheral things like land use and community engagement, to move exploration into the following year.”
As for Intelligent Exploration, this year’s theme came about because “it’s been a difficult year so we thought it was a good opportunity to take a step back and reflect. We’re looking at the technical aspects of projects, what we can do to advance a project, what we can glean from other projects in the area and from majors that have put a mine in place.”
But Roundup acknowledges more to exploration than the technical challenges. The conference also examines “how we can work with communities, what kind of environmental work we can do to move a project forward. We have to make sure we’re doing everything to the best of our abilities, whether it’s technical or peripheral to the geological aspects of a project.”
The technical stuff actually kicks off on January 23, when the short courses begin, and continues throughout Roundup as professionals share their expertise. Showcase sessions tackle other issues, such as industry policy, aboriginal engagement, social responsibility and health and safety. Breakfast and lunch keynote speeches offer the insights of industry bigwigs. Speakers from B.C., the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska will sing the geological and jurisdictional praises of their home turf.
Of course social events will proliferate. Among them are the Old Timers’ Lunch, curling, hockey, lots of networking and, just maybe, some drinking too.
The January 27 Awards Celebration of Excellence Gala fetes several individuals and organizations for exemplary service to exploration and development.
But Roundup reaches beyond the industry to engage the wider community. One example is Gathering Place, which brings together explorers and natives in four days of events. “It’s a great program, people really enjoy it,” says Johnston. “At some point in its growth, an exploration project involves everybody in the community, so this has been an important part of the conference for about four years now.”
Other programs focus on students, from elementary though high school and into university. “If you look at the demographics of this industry, there’s an entire age range that’s missing because of the last downturn in the late ’90s and early 2000s,” Johnston points out. “That’s created a bit of a hole as we have a generation of people reaching retirement. So we really need a new influx of people.”
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