Topping out at over 27,000 attendees, the PDAC this year was one of the most diverse mining events the world will see in 2011.
CBJ was on hand at the Toronto event in March to hear all about the latest up-and-coming exploration regions, theories in mining sustainability, new projects and players in the game, and of course, to attend a few of the most exciting networking events.
COMPANIES TO WATCH:
Gekko Systems specializes in the design, development and distribution of innovative mineral processing equipment and systems with a particular focus on gravity separation. Long-term relationships based on trust and mutual benefit, as well as an emphasis on innovation, are the cornerstones of the company’s philosophy. With offices in Australia (Head Office), Canada and South Africa, the business owners and team of employees, contractors, consultants and suppliers are passionate about producing timely, high-quality products and services for our customers. Since commercialization in 1996, over 350 units have been manufactured and installed in 33 countries worldwide.
HudBay Minerals Inc. (TSX: HBM) (NYSE: HBM) is a Canadian integrated mining company with assets in North and Central America principally focused on the discovery, production and marketing of base metals. The company’s objective is to increase shareholder value through efficient operations, organic growth and accretive acquisitions, all while maintaining its financial strength. A member of the S&P/TSX Composite Index and the S&P/TSX Global Mining Index, HudBay Minerals is committed to high standards of corporate governance and sustainability. Hudbay Minerals were Gold Sponsors of this year’s PDAC.
Atlas Copco is an industrial group with world-leading positions in compressors, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. The Group delivers sustainable solutions for increased customer productivity, through innovative products and services.
Bear Creek Mining is focused in Peru, a mineral-rich nation with a favourable investment climate. The company’s Corani and Santa Ana Projects contain more than 500 million ounces of silver of which over 320 million ounces are in reserves providing near-term production potential and excellent leverage to silver prices. Bear Creek Mining maintains aggressive exploration programs to expand resources at its two future mines and make new precious metals discoveries. The company is led by a management team with an exceptional track record of mineral discovery and mine development in Peru.
Rambler Metals and Mining is Junior Mining Company that has 100 per cent ownership of the Ming Copper-Gold Mine in Baie Verte, N.L. The company’s objective is to become a mid-tier mining company by bringing the Ming Mine into production, discovering new deposits and through M&A’s. Following the acquisition of the Ming Mine, Rambler, listed on the London AIM in 2005 and Toronto TSX-V in 2007.
CBJ had the opportunity to talk with Fred Daley, Vice-President of Exploration from Teck, who explained why PDAC is the mining event to sponsor.
CBJ: How is PDAC sponsorship valuable, not just from a marketing perspective but from an industry point of view?
Fred Daley: I think it really starts with understanding of what the venue is and what the PDAC opportunity is.
The PDAC has evolved into the largest and best exploration and mining convention in the world. It’s certainly, in terms of profile, the largest and best-attended in terms of the global mining industry. The last few years there have been delegations from all over the world, including China and Mongolia, and some African countries—they’ll send their mines ministers and cabinet ministers to the PDAC.
It’s developed into a forum of not just industry attendees, but stakeholders: it’s mining companies, it’s service and supply industries, NGOs, and lots of Canadian governmental representatives. The PDAC has developed into a forum where you can connect with a lot of stakeholders. It’s not just about meeting other mining companies and doing deals—there is an opportunity to network, to interact. It goes beyond the traditional “let’s make a deal” approach.
In terms of mining events that are worth attending, I find that PDAC is at the top of the list. It’s just a good use of time.
CBJ: How is sponsoring the PDAC part of your brand development?
FD: Sponsoring an event like the PDAC gives Teck the opportunity to arrange meetings with certain delegations, and have a profile at certain events to get our name and our message out there.
In terms of the branding, we get lots of questions about the company like what are we doing in research? What are we doing in coal, or in the oilsands? We get questions from lots of people, like students, for example, and it’s about getting our name out.
We can tell our story at the PDAC, and what we’re trying to do is get people to come and talk to us about opportunities they have. We want people to see Teck as the partner of choice.
CBJ: How has PDAC changed since you first got involved?
FD: The sheer size of the PDAC has changed. There were only 2,000 to 3,000 at the beginning when it first started. But then it grew and it had to change venues.
Now, there is also a wider cross-section of stakeholders in the global mining community attending—instead of just Canadian prospectors and companies trying to do deals. There is also more involvement in the service supply industries—services we rely on. It’s really developed into a first class event.
CBJ: Why would you recommend the PDAC to other companies who are interested in sponsorship, and why should someone attend PDAC?
FD: You can get as much done at the PDAC in a three days as you would get done in a week at the office. You can simply get a lot done in a short amount of time.
Significant focus at this year’s PDAC technical sessions and presentations was placed on diamond exploration. During the Monday technical session “21 years of Canadian diamonds: Coming of age?”, De Beers and MDRU/UBC representatives chaired presentations on the Chidliak diamond district in Nunavut, Quebec diamond resources explored by Stonoway Diamonds, and development of the Victor mine in Timmins.
Jennifer Pell from Peregrine Diamonds spoke to the audience about recent highlights from the Chidliak project, which is a joint venture between Peregrine and BHP Billiton. According to Pell, 50 kimberlites have been discovered in the project to date, 24 by prospecting and 26 by drilling. This district is Canada’s newest, and covers an area of 70 kilometres north-south and 40 kilometres east-west. This year’s exploration efforts include the evaluation of kimberlites with potential for more exploration, and will “set the stage” for bulk sampling of priority kimberlites next year.
Other Monday technical sessions covered topics ranging from “Is gold a bubble?” to the challenges of developing CSR strategies while working in a developing nation. Under the finance development umbrella, Paolo Lostritto from Wellington West Capital Markets spoke about gold and silver equity and financing trends, and John Nyholt from PricewaterhouseCoopers addressed M&A trends and an overall outlook for the mining industry.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, new mines in Canada’s remote north were a hot topic, and as one attendee pointed out “an area to keep a really close eye on.”
Presenters also focused on regional exploration in Africa, and presentations were made on Canadian sedimentary basins and tactical approaches in geophysics. Uranium deposits were highlighted in afternoon sessions with updates from Wyoming, Western Australia, Zambia and Russia.
Other technical sessions included reviews of new discoveries and developments in Ireland—the Pallas Green Project, the Tujuh Bukit copper-gold system in Springfield, Australia, and the New Serra Pelada in Brazil. Rare metals were a highlight at PDAC’s Wednesday morning closing sessions.
PDAC’s CSR program began on Saturday, March 5, and continued through Tuesday. The program covered a wide range of topics, including how to develop a CSR program with a small budget, minimizing risks to the environment, and developing a transparent approach to community relations.
Speakers attended from AECOM Canada Limited, the Mining Law Committee of the International Bar Association, NRCan, and major mining companies such as Pluton Resources.
The Fenix: Chile rescue capsule on display for PDAC visitors
One of the most interesting highlights at PDAC this year was the display of the “Fenix”—the phenomenal rescue capsule built to rescue 33 Chilean miners trapped underground in 2010.
The capsule, one of three used to rescue the miners who were underground for a whopping 69 days, towered on the floor of the MTCC, reminding visitors of the captivating rescue. A tribute was paid to the rescue team at PDAC, and Laurence Golborne, Chile’s Minister of Mining, was presented with an achievement award as well.
WOMEN IN MINING
Women in Mining Canada International Networking Reception
CBJ was privileged to be invited to the fourth Women in Mining Canada International Networking Reception. The event brought together mining professionals, students, and those who are actively engaged in the minerals and mining industry—men and women.
Women in Mining (WIM) Canada is a not-for-profit organization that was formed in 2009 and focuses on advancing the interests of women in the minerals exploration and mining sector. Last year’s networking event brought out over 550 delegates, and this year’s numbers indicated that the event was a success once again.
MineAfrica presents events supporting investing in African mining
On March 8, MineAfrica presented the 12th Annual Mining Breakfast and 9th Annual Investing in African Mining seminar in conjuction with the Canada-Southern Africa Chamber of Business and supported by Premier Sponsor SGS. A record 360 delegates turned up to hear key industry leaders speak, including South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, who kicked off the morning’s events.
Throughout the morning, more than 20 mining companies and a host of African Ministers and mining industry experts covered key aspects of the mining industry in Africa including investing, building community programs and up-and-coming projects.
CBJ friends from Macleod Dixon, namely Avril Cole (a guest writer for George Media), spoke about changing expectations within the mining industry in West Africa, and how new concepts of responsibility are being developed as the industry grows. Cole’s message was loud and clear: as development continues in West Africa, stakeholder expectations of mining companies continue to increase. Cole explained to the audience that now, more than ever, mining companies are faced with increased regulation designed to help them keep pace with regulation dominating the world’s mining activities.
For the first time, we are seeing mining codes with environmental and community requirements. Effectively, West Africa is catching up with the rest of the world,” she summarized.
Indeed, Africa’s place on the world mining stage has been solidified, and the turnout at MineAfrica booths onsite at PDAC was evidence of this. Nine exhibitors, including African government representatives and mining companies, spread the word about mining in African during the trade show. In attendance were the Algeria Ministry of Mines and Energy, CA Mining, Global Recruitment, Guinea Ministry of Mines, MDM Engineering, Mining Weekly, Mintek, Niger Ministry of Mines and Energy, Senegal Ministry of Mines and Industry, Spidersat Communications Limited and Webber Wentzel Attorneys.
CBJ heard a lot about West African mine development from presenters, including Dr. Moussa Sylla, from the Senegal Ministry of Mines. Dr. Sylla highlighted key reasons to invest in Senegal: “Senegal is a stable and opened country with a healthy and competitive economy. It is the first African country noted B+ by Standard & Poor’s, and has modern and successful infrastructure,” he explained.
“There is a high quality of human resources and a renewed legal and fiscal framework,” he added.
CBJ investigates: NRCan’s Green Mining Initiative
On the trade show floor, Natural Resources Canada had a very interesting visual display. A model of a mine site, complete with buildings and vehicles, shafts and processing facilities, all were demonstrated on the small scale to help attendees see the scope of ventilation and waste management systems on a mine site. NRCan representatives said that the display was part of illustrating the organization’s Green Mining Initiative, so CBJ went to task finding out more about the Initiative.
CBJ followed up with the very busy NRCan representatives to find out more about the Green Mining Initiative, which was created to help the Canadian mining industry address the environmental issues of mining.
CBJ: How far has the Green Mining Initiative come so far?
NRCan: Since its launch in 2009, the Green Mining Initiative has spurred green mining innovation across Canada, which led to significant progresses on a number of key R&D projects and new projects being launched. Examples include testing the first worldwide electric-diesel hybrid loader in a Canadian mine in collaboration with a Canadian manufacturer and meeting strength requirements for a unique alternative binder process that could be used for mining backfill. Patenting of this technology is underway. Results of a second year of monitoring on mine sites as part of the Green Mines Green Energy initiative continue to demonstrate that the growth of biomass crops on mine tailings is feasible to rehabilitate mining sites.
Canada is one of the top mining countries in the world, with rigorous environmental and safety standards. Canada is continuing to lead the way forward in reducing the environmental impacts through the Green Mining Initiative, and improving the corporate social responsibilities best practices through the CSR Centre of Excellence. That is why there has been significant investment in new ventilation on demand field demonstration projects that could lead to considerable energy consumption reduction. NRCan has also established a number of partnerships and strengthened linkages with key stakeholders, including the Canada Mining Innovation Council (CMIC), a network of industry, academic and government leaders, to work collaboratively across Canada.
The mines Ministers across Canada have also endorsed the Initiative in 2009. A formal federal/provincial/territorial working group on the GMI that enhances the exchange of information on R&D and other activities has been implemented. Partnerships with other stakeholders have led to, for example, the publication of an Acid Rock Drainage Prediction Manual that provides useful guidance to companies and the various levels of government on this important issue.
CBJ: What is the long-term vision of the Initiative?
NRCan: The longer-term objective, or vision, is to provide the innovative technologies and practices that will allow the mining industry to leave behind only clean water, rehabilitated landscapes and healthy ecosystems.
For additional information on MMSL science and technology work, please consult the Compendium of government-funded GMI activities (available at http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/mms-smm/pubr-pubr/com-com-eng.htm). The document highlights MMSL research areas.
CBJ: What are some recent milestones achieved under the Green Mining Initiative umbrella?
Publication of a Acidic Rock Drainage Prediction Manual. In 2009, a comprehensive manual on acidic rock drainage was published. The manual will go a long way in providing insightful guidance on prediction to regulators and stakeholders and facilitates environmental assessments. It was produced by NRCan for the Mine Environmental Neutral Drainage (MEND) Program. It is available to the public at http://www.mend-nedem.org/reports/files/1.20.1.pdf.
Invention of an alternative binder slag technology in lieu of Portland Cement in mine backfill. Mine backfill is usually made of 10 per cent Portland cement for binding purposes. The Portland cement used for mine backfill generates approximately 0.5 million tonnes of GHG emissions. The Portland cement represents about 70 per cent of the cost of backfilling. CANMET-MMSL has invented a unique alternative binder that makes use of waste rock (i.e., slag). The results have been quite promising so far as strength requirements have been met. The technology is being patented in several countries.
Development of the first worldwide diesel-electric hybrid loader. In collaboration with a Canadian manufacturer, CANMET-MMSL has been developing and testing in real underground environment the first worldwide hybrid mining vehicles.
Publication of a Pan-Canadian Compendium of government-funded green mining activities. In collaboration with provinces and territories, NRCan has developed a compendium of government-funded green mining activities in Canada. The compendium highlights the breadth and depth of GMI activities underway and will help foster collaboration and synergies.
CBJ: Can you explain the four main research pillars and how industry partners (companies) are helping to educate the program?
NRCan: The GMI is composed of four strategic pillars:
Footprint reduction: The goal of the first pillar, Footprint Reduction, is straightforward. Minimize the quantity of waste produced, improve energy-efficient methods and extract valuable minerals and metals using minimum amounts of water and noxious chemicals.
Innovation in Waste Management: Mine Waste Management works towards preventing and alleviating impacts created by mineral processing. This includes minimizing and reprocessing waste and developing alternative waste disposal technologies to leave behind healthy ecosystems. developing better treatment and management technologies in waste processing, utilization and disposal.
Mine closure and rehabilitation: Mine Closure and Rehabilitation, research is being undertaken to reduce long-term liability and develop improved technologies for metal hazard and risk management; monitor environmental effects and assess metal toxicity.
Ecosystem Risk Management: The Ecosystem Risk Management pillar is about understanding the impacts on the fauna and flora. Stakeholders are developing a more holistic study of the biochemical reactions created by metals released after processing and their interactions with ecosystems;
CBJ: How are your industry partners (associations) helping to move the initiative forward?
NRCan: Although the GMI is under the collaborative leadership of NRCan, its vision will only become a reality if industry, governments, academia, manufacturers and Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs) collaborate. Industry and other stakeholders (academia, NGOs, etc.) have shown significant interest in the Initiative and have been proactively involved. We have established a multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee that is co-chaired by NRCan and CMIC where industry, academia, provincial and territorial governments, and non-governmental organizations are providing us with expert advice regarding our priorities. The industry is also a partner or a client in many of our projects.
CBJ: What are some targets for the initiative this year?
NRCan: Hybrid vehicles: After having tested a small underground hybrid vehicle (i.e., scoop), MMSL will, in collaboration with a Canadian manufacturer, start to develop larger underground mining hybrid vehicles.
Ventilation-on-demand: Two ventilation-on-demand projects will be finalized shortly. MMSL and its partners will seek to continue working in this area to move the technology forward.
Underground water filtration system: A new project will look at developing an innovative underground water filtration system. The objectives are to recuperate from the ‘mud’ valuable minerals and metals and reused the used water for other processing needs.
Bioleaching of nickel: Finalization of a collaborative project that examines the extraction of nickel from low grade ores using heap bioleaching process, which could reduce GHG emissions and energy consumption and allow metals extraction from low-grade ores, tailings and waste rock.
Addressing barriers to green mining technologies: In collaboration with provinces and territories, NRCan will develop concrete actions to address barriers to green mining across Canada.