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“It’s an important aspect and very close to my heart,” she adds. “I started on the Roundup committee working on student activities when I was a student myself. I’ve been on the committee now for 11 years. So it’s important to me to mentor those students and I think a lot of people in our exploration community feel that way, that we have to pass on that knowledge and bring those people in. There’s so many things changing in this industry, it calls for continuous learning and there’s a lot that you just don’t learn in school.”
A new feature is Discovery Day, a free public outreach event taking place Sunday afternoon, January 25. “We hope everybody in the exploration realm brings their families, their neighbours and anyone else.” A group of short talks and a film will cover topics like B.C.’s mining history and regional perspectives on earth sciences, such as local earthquake and volcano activity. Yukon Dan, an old hand with the gold pan, will provide lessons for prospective prospectors.
This year’s Roundup has expanded, despite the downturn. The Trade Show has grown by about 25% to feature over 340 exhibitors, Johnston notes. “The Core Shack, which is always a huge draw, is also 25% larger. The Poster Session, which used to last one day, is now up for four days. And we’ve added three one-hour talks for university students to address a crowd of professionals.”
Early numbers suggest registration will match that of last year, when a near-record crowd of over 6,600 attendees converged on Vancouver from 37 countries, bringing $7.7 million to the local economy. Roundup confirms Vancouver’s status as the capital of junior exploration and a centre of technical excellence, Johnston says.
For that, she thanks attendees, exhibitors, speakers and sponsors. “It’s been a difficult year for companies but we’ve had some great sponsors return and some new sponsors come forward as well. We really appreciate all the time and money they put into the conference.”
A tough 2014 notwithstanding, AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom says, “We’re seeing companies surviving and in some cases advancing and doing quite well. We don’t have official numbers yet but I think we’ll see expenditures were occurring on fewer projects but more advanced projects, particularly related to base metals and precious metals in B.C. That’s a change from previous years but not a drastic change. In 2013 about half of those expenditures would have been on coal exploration and development. In 2014 you’d see much less in coal and much more on base metals and precious metals.”
Describing the industry’s mood as cautiously optimistic, he adds, “We have to remind ourselves that we’re in a jurisdiction that has what the world needs or will need. So it’s a matter of surviving this capital crisis and attracting further investment, like some are. It’s not just the majors that are attracting investment. A lot of these projects we’ve been hearing about are run by juniors or mid-tiers.”
That has widespread implications, he emphasizes. “Economic development is one of the major factors for improving social conditions anywhere. It needs a partnership of industry, communities and government to actually do something productive and meaningful for local people.”
Read B.C. ready for mining upturn: A Vancouver Sun op-ed by AME BC president/CEO Gavin Dirom.
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