Despite shaky markets the industry’s biggest annual event remains as popular as ever
by Greg Klein
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Back again from March 3 to 6, it’s the exploration and mining world’s greatest annual event. Everyone who’s anyone in the industry knows that and the numbers prove it: Hordes of people, zillions of booths, masses of presentations, tons of exhibits, truckloads of events, lots and lots of courses, workshops and forums and a whole bunch of other stuff. (Those who need more precise info can click here.) But why, during these lean times especially, do people return to the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada annual convention?
That’s a question that troubles Bob Rose. A partner in the Toronto-based brokerage firm D & D Securities who focuses on the juniors, Rose has spent “only 53 years” in the investment business. So he’s entitled to some skepticism.
“It costs how much for a booth, it costs how much to get here, how much to put yourself up in a hotel and feed yourself?” he asks. “And half the companies listed on the Venture stock exchange have got less than $500,000 in the till and half of those people have got less than $100,000.”
Yet still they come. “You’ll see hundreds and hundreds of them in about 35 or 40 aisles with 20 on either side of each aisle like last year and the year before and the year before that—all with their hand out looking for some money to punch a hole somewhere in the world. But very few of them have the ability to feed themselves and pay for their trip to Toronto. So that’s one hell of a question: Why are you doing it?”
A lot of them won’t even be around much longer, he says. “In the next year or so a lot of those companies are going by the boards.” That hardly bodes well for PDAC 2014. But Rose has seen it all before. “Shit, I can remember walking through PDAC just after Bre-X and you couldn’t find anybody with a search warrant.” Yet somehow the sector survived.
So is Rose entirely cynical about the event? “It’s a good party,” he concedes. “It’s a very good networking tool. A lot of people find a lot of new shareholders there…. It’s a matter of bringing people together and shooting your idea at the rest of the world. But it’s expensive.”
That might be true for the companies, but most of PDAC 2013 is free to the public.
More openly enthusiastic is Fatih Akarsu, corporate communications rep for Pasinex Resources CNSX:PSE. “It’s the biggest conference for the mineral exploration sector with about 35,000-plus people attending. It’s the greatest way to network with people and get your company’s name out.”
But isn’t it a challenge for a relatively new (March 2012), lesser-known company like Pasinex to get noticed among so many others? “There’s always a challenge with anything in the world,” Akarsu replies. “There are other companies that are better established, but everyone starts from somewhere.”
Pasinex focuses on precious and base metals exploration in Turkey. New regulations requiring exploration licence-holders to either use them or lose them could put about 30,000 licences on the market over the next few years, he says. “So that’s a great indication for the mineral exploration sector that Turkey is pro-business. It’s the world’s 16th-largest economy. In 2011 its GDP was 8.5%, second only to China.” An event like PDAC 2013 can bring the company and the country to greater prominence, Akarsu says. “We’ll be at Zimtu Capital’s [TSXV:ZC] booth 2819.”
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