Welcome Reception at PDAC 2010
With the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s next Toronto show set for 6-9 March 2011, we caught up with Joe Hinzer to find out what’s on the agenda.
As the Chair of the Planning Committee, Joe is heavily involved in the organization. And he is excited about the prospects for next year’s event: “I think the last two years have been a little bit rough in the mining industry since the meltdown in 2008. Last year, everyone was a little concerned whether there would be an upswing in the industry.”
“There were a lot of people with negative sentiments and I think, although there is still an amount of uncertainty, the large negative sentiment has gone and everybody is beginning to see that things are on the way up and they are very excited about that. So, from that perspective, I think we might expect a larger turnout than we had last year.”
He feels the improved industry health is largely due to a vibrant commodity market. And a lot of this is the result of the emerging economies, with China in particular driving the market. Joe comments: “China has embarked on a process of upgrading its infrastructure and that requires a huge consumption of commodities. They are working towards getting access to markets for people inside the country.
“Their goal is that every community in China should have access to large markets within one day’s travel. That means a huge amount of road building, rail infrastructure and all those things, and they’re all consumers of commodities. The cities are growing there and urbanization is going on. Parts of Africa, certainly India are rapidly moving up to upgrade their economies and that’s going to require lots of resources.”
PDAC 2011 will be a combination of events, with the keynote opening session being co-chaired by the Chilean Minister of Mining. He will, naturally, touch on the successful rescue of the miners. However, his main focus will be on how Chile has turned round its economy by focusing on mining and modern techniques.
Another part of the keynote session will cover corporate social responsibility. “How mining companies, both advanced and more junior companies are treating people in different parts of the world,” remarks Joe. “The efforts and lengths they’re going to making sure that mining operations are truly accepted by the community and are seen as a benefit for both the social and economic well-being of everyone.
“I think that’s been a theme, certainly for the Canadian mining industry in general and the Prospectors and Developers Associationwith the development of their E3+ guidelines on how to do exploration and development in the right way, so that everyone benefits.”
One of the keynote speakers, John Ing, will be discussing whether the gold price is here to stay or is a bubble. There’s also a big emphasis on first nation communities and how companies can work with them so they’re integrated into the economic, cultural and social fabric.
There are workshop and technical sessions running through all the days. These cover a wide range of subjects, including the latest diamond discoveries, the potential for Africa and the northern part of Canada, the future role of uranium and rare metals.
The workshops also feature the first nation aboriginal awareness program and a look at rock properties. “When you’re doing exploration, it’s sometimes not enough just to drill a hole in the ground and see what comes out,” says Joe. “By being able to orient those rocks, spatially, with new tools and techniques, it gives us much more information about what’s happening in the third dimension.
“We’re looking at targeting all kinds of exploration, how gold is formed and deposited. We also cover investing fundamentals so that people who come into the market to buy stocks find what they need to know so they don’t lose their shirt.
“One of the other courses is communication for the mining and exploration industry. How best we can communicate with the rest of the world as to what we do and the benefits everybody can gain from what we do. And, of course, best practice. Promoting and teaching all of our members who take these courses what the best practices are for exploration. And to keep everybody up-to-date on the latest regulatory information for companies wishing to list on the stock market and the reporting that’s required to monitor the industry.
“Those are the kind of courses that are out there. We also give an overview of commodities and a market outlook. We will be covering commodities such as gold, silver, uranium, the platinum group, iron ore, copper, zinc, nickel and potash.”
Aside from running its own show in Toronto, the PDAC has much wider interests. Joe explains: “Part of the work of the PDAC is through an international committee that travels to many of the trade shows elsewhere in the world. Since PDAC is one of the biggest ones and the only one focused specifically on exploration and development, we’ve been able to attract interest from more than 100 countries to participate in our event and learn how we do it and how we can help them advance their own industry.”
As a result of the interest, many of the emerging countries have booths for the PDAC 2011 event. African and South American countries have a strong presence.
Despite its size and importance, the PDAC is largely run by volunteers who organize the conference. Joe chairs the Planning Committee, which has around 45 members and meets every 3-4 weeks when planning the show. Various sub-committees look after different aspects, deciding topics, finding speakers and making sure the event runs smoothly.
When he’s not involved with the PDAC, Joe’s day job is with consulting firm Watts, Griffis and McOut, which was formed in 1962. He joined in 2000 and bought the firm with three others when the founders sold in 2004. Main activities are geological consulting, early stage engineering, project management and due diligence. The company has offices in Toronto, Vancouver and Beijing and has worked in over 120 countries.
At the moment, a good proportion of Joe’s time is taken up with PDAC and he is looking forward to the 2011 event. A big attraction, he feels, is its position as a social event: “One of the main reasons people come to the PDAC is to reconnect with friends that they have all over the world. It is probably, for the exploration and development industry, the premier networking event in the world. It’s one of those places that you have to be so that you can meet and greet and be up to speed with what’s going on in the industry.”