Even though the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Conference attracts people from around the world, everywhere Joshua Bailey looks, he sees people he knows.
That's because so many people in the mining industry have, at one time, worked in the Sudbury area, said the president of the Sudbury Prospectors and Developers Association.
“Sudbury is sort of the hub of a very broad network of people that are now kind of sprinkled all over the place,” Bailey said.
The conference, which runs from March 3-6 this year at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, is one of the social highlights of the year for those connected to the mining industry, he said.
The event features a trade show, investors exchange, presentations, short courses and workshops, as well as social events in the evenings. Last year it attracted more than 30,000 people, a quarter of whom came from outside Canada.
“The conference is always a great time of the year,” Bailey said. “It's busy, but it's always a lot of fun.”
Bailey, who is also the vice-president of exploration at Wallbridge Mining, a Sudbury-based junior mining company, said the big story from this year's conference is the fact that many juniors are desperate for investment.
Investors just aren't interested in loosening their purse strings right now because of recent dips in the market, despite the fact that metals prices are relatively strong right now, he said.
Wallbridge, though, is doing fairly well because it has well-established partnerships with investors, Bailey said.
“So we leverage our own dollars into attracting funds from our partners to do exploration,” he said.
“We try to do that as much as possible instead of going into the market. That's been a strategy that's worked for us fairly well to survive some of the lulls in the cycles.”
The executive director of the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association (SAMSSA) said the majority of his 100 members will likely make an appearance at the event.
While many of them will participate in the trade show, it's what happens behind the scenes that matters the most, said Dick DeStefano, who will be heading to the conference himself for at least a day.
“It's the other events around the floor — the socializing, the networking that goes on after hours at the hotels — that's really the predominant activity there.”
He said many of his members take the opportunity to set up business meetings with people who are in Toronto for the conference, or to check out what their competitors are doing or learn how things are done elsewhere in the world.
Like Bailey, he also observed that investment in junior mining companies seems to have dried up, and predicted they'll have a tough time making any deals at the PDAC Conference.
“No one wants to take the risk,” DeStefano said.
To learn more about the PDAC Conference, visit www.pdac.ca/pdac/conv.