Despite the doom and gloom, the mining industry is good at rising above it all, confident that good times always follow bad ones, so even when times are tough they try to give a little back.
Pronounced by its citizens – the 30,000 or so global mining industry players that attend each year – as the Peedac (PDAC), the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada annual conference is more than just a marathon of presentations by miners, analysts and industry service providers.
Attracting industry players from 125 countries around the world, the PDAC is the world’s largest mining convention, and also the first big event in the calendar year, providing a unique opportunity for CEOs, engineers and financiers to rub shoulders with allies and rivals.
Amidst the schmoozing along Bay Street hot spots are the events that mix socializing and networking with charities to support the communities where companies mine, in Canada and abroad.
One such event is Bullion Belts, a boxing match at the Ritz Carlton hotel in downtown Toronto that pitches professional boxers against one another while investors and mining executives watch on. The proceeds from sponsors like Iamgold, an Africa-focused miner, go to the Right To Play charity, which aims to take children in poor countries off of street corners and put them on playing fields.
Another annual fixture is Mining4Life, which brings together the movers and shakers of the industry over a friendly game of Texas Hold’em Poker. Only sponsors can attend the event. A buy-in of $100,000 buys 10 tickets, with $50,000 and $15,000 buy-ins getting five and two tickets respectively.
The event, on Wednesday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto, has raised an average of $2.75-million per year for the past four years, with $11-million going to charities including SickKids International and BC Children’s Hospital and causes they support.
The events mix charity with opportunities to talk about the industry and hatch ways to be profitable even in trying times. PDAC is as much about ideas as it is about corporate presentations.
Ideas are pitched and discarded, and plans are hatched in whispered conversations on the sidelines of corporate presentations and luncheons.
In the evening, hordes of miners rejuvenated after the day’s travails hit some of the city’s top restaurants, bars and clubs. Everybody has an angle and everybody is a willing listener, always hoping to stumble on the next great idea, or to commiserate with a rival about the state of an industry that has seen better times.
This year’s PDAC unfolds at a time when all but the most credit-worthy of companies have seen access to financing cut off, as investors worry about the future trajectory of metals prices. While many fight for survival, others are looking for opportunities to pick up devalued assets at cheap prices.