Successful PDAC 2023 wraps up with Promising Future in Mining Industry


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The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto came to a close on Wednesday, drawing tens of thousands of geologists, engineers and investors to downtown Toronto.

This year’s attendance was 23,819, consisting of more than 1,100 exhibitors covering over 600,000 square feet of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

“The energy and optimism witnessed during PDAC 2023 was palpable—it is clear the mineral exploration and mining industry has entered a period of great transformation and growth,” PDAC president Alex Christopher said in a statement.

Mining magnate Robert Friedland, founder and executive co-chair of Ivanhoe Mines, meanwhile told an audience at the convention that the West shouldn’t go to war over Taiwan because it needs investment from China to mine metals for the global green energy transition, The Northern Miner reported.

“We’re going to have to find capital from Americans or Saudis or sovereign wealth funds, but we need a lot more money coming to junior mining, orders of magnitude more,” Friedland said.

“It’s really hard to raise money for mining because the bankers assign a discount rate of eight, ten, or 12%,” he added.

In the technology keynote speech, Richard Inglis, chief geologist of Colorado-based Newmont Corp., focused on the role of automation, virtual reality, and human creativity in exploring for minerals. Machine-learning algorithms have given exploration companies more data than ever before, but that’s only made geologists more crucial, he said.

“To suddenly see how things fit together and how bits of orphan information slot in and suddenly make sense, no computer is ever going to do that for us,” said Inglis. “The creativity of the human brain cannot be matched.”

The Ontario government has approved the Terms of Reference designed and submitted by Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation for an all-season, multi-use road connecting to the proposed Ring of Fire mining development area. The Northern Road Link will connect the two First Nations communities, and the critical mineral deposits in the Ring of Fire to the Ontario highway network, helping to secure a supply chain for electric vehicle manufacturing in Ontario. The province made the announcement today at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual convention in Toronto.

“I want to thank Webequie First Nation and Marten Falls First Nation for leading the Environmental Assessment for this essential road corridor. I value our partnership with these strong leaders who are central to our government’s mandate to develop the Ring of Fire,” said George Pirie, Minister of Mines. “The Ring of Fire has the critical minerals we need to build our manufacturing supply chain, including nickel for electric vehicles and chromite for clean steel. Our government’s investments in innovation and infrastructure are creating jobs across the entire province, including northern and Indigenous communities.”

Ontario has dedicated close to $1 billion to support critical legacy infrastructure in the Ring of Fire area including constructing all‑season roads, investing in high-speed internet, road upgrades and community supports. Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations are co-leading the planning of the Northern Road Link project as part of a historic partnership with the province. The project will connect the Ring of Fire’s critical mineral deposits with manufacturing hubs in the south, paving the way for made-in-Ontario supply chains for batteries and electric vehicles.

“The Ontario government has approved the Terms of Reference as submitted by Marten Falls and Webequie First Nations which is an important first step in the environmental process that will enable critical transportation infrastructure to be built,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “Tomorrow’s clean, green jobs depend on meaningful partnerships we’ve built with First Nations communities and our government looks forward to continuing to work closely with them to unlock this immense potential in the north while ensuring strong environmental protections remain in place.”

“Today’s approval of the Terms of Reference for the Northern Road Link Environmental Assessment is an important step towards unlocking the corridor to prosperity,” said Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. “Working with Indigenous partners, we have a tremendous opportunity for a corridor that can supply energy and leverage health, economic and social benefits, while unlocking significant economic growth.”

During the PDAC convention, the province also announced recipients of the Critical Minerals Innovation Fund. The $5 million fund is supporting Ontario-based companies that are leading the development of new mining technologies focused on building the critical minerals supply chain. These companies are doing ground-breaking work to solve supply chain challenges in exploration, mining and processing.

Among all the discussions of building a North American critical minerals supply chain, it was difficult to find anyone at PDAC talking about gold miners, whose travails usually dominate the conference.

There’s no shortage of potential discussion points, such as the movement of many gold mining majors into copper, or the collapse of cryptocurrencies and whether this will send more investors to gold as a store value, to name two examples.

Terry Heymann, chief financial officer at the World Gold Council, said that in 2022 central banks around the world, but particularly in China and Turkey, purchased a record amount of gold.

PDAC 2024 will take place in Toronto next year from March 3-6.

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