Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Observations on the 2011 Exploration Roundup

I was over in Vancouver yesterday at the 2011 AME Exploration Roundup, I was asked to provide some postings for the Core Blog.  Here is what I offered them:

I attended Roundup each year from 2001 to 2007 and then I took a four year break before coming back this year. Normally from year to year there are only incremental changes. Having taken a break has allowed me to see there are some significant changes to the Roundup.
First Nations are much more in evidence now than even five years ago and much more than 10 years ago. For way too many years the mining industry viewed the First Nations as an opposition group and not as partners. Dan Jepsen, who was at AME BC from 2002 to 2008, spent a lot of time and energy building a new attitude towards First Nations and it is very much in evidence at Roundup this year.
It is crucial in BC that companies have a good social contract with the nearby First Nations. For far too long many mining juniors did not take this seriously which has lead to problems down the road for many a promising project. The fact we are seeing leaders from First Nation communities at the Roundup means the sort of two way positive relationship needed to allow projects to move forward here in BC are happening. I am also happy to see that more and more aboriginal people are seeing mining as an important future for their communities.
Another change I saw this year compared to the past is a shift among who the exhibitors are. There has been a shift away from mining juniors to many more companies supplying services to industry. The Cambridge House Investment Show down the way at the Trade and Convention Centre seems to be where a lot more of the mining junior promotion is going on than at the Roundup. I only had a day to be in Vancouver and heavy schedule of people to see, so I did not get a chance to check out the Cambridge show.
With the exhibitors being much more about the suppliers than the mining juniors, from what I could see there were a lot more company executives and geologists were talking with each other. It seemed to me in the past that often many of the mining juniors at the Roundup were doing a lot of investment relations and not spending the time informally talking as members of the industry.
I have to admit that this shift makes it harder for me to track down people from specific companies and talk with them about what I do and how I might help them but that is my problem. Next year I will have to spend several days there so that I can spend some time at the evening receptions.

The one final observation I have is about the ability of Roundup to cope with the size of the event. Has it become too big to continue at the Westin Bayshore or is it time to move to a larger venue?

Monday, January 24, 2011

2010 Mineral Exploration Numbers are Out

In 2010 companies spent $322,000,000 on exploration in BC, this is more than a doubling from 2009 when it was only $157,000,000.  This is still below the figures for 2008 ($367,000,000) and 2007 (abt $430,000,000).

What needs to kept in mind that that a lot of this exploration expenditure was at existing mine locations or advanced projects close to production.   As an example, Mount Milligan had $33 million spent on it in 2010.

In the last six years $1.8 billion dollars as been spent on exploration in BC.   What is important in this spending is that a lot of the money is going on the work needed to move mines into production or keep them in operation.  

In the last few years large scale mines have been bogging down in trying to get through all the regulatory hoops.  What has been working not badly has been the small mine program.   The Shasta gold mine in the Toodoggone by Sable Resources that pulled out 700 ounces gold equivalent - $960,000.  Eagle Plains Resources has done much the same with the Yellow Jacket Project in the Atlin area.

In general there are about six of seven major mines that could very well be operating within the next couple of years.   New Afton, Cooper Mountain, Mount Milligan, Kitsault, Dome Mountain, and Kemess North (now as an underground project) are all clearly moving towards production.   This represents the biggest expansion in new mines in ages in this province.

It will be interesting to see what the mood is like at the AME Exploration Roundup when I go there tomorrow.