Metals News had an opportunity to speak with Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference Co-Chair, Victoria Yael of Teck Resources Limited about the event. Said Yael, “We just did something exciting, celebrating AMEBC's 100th anniversary this year and our 29th annual roundup.”
One of the new features for this year was a live gold pour. Yael said, “We did a gold pour this year. We've got some prospectors that really exemplify the theme of this year's conference which is 'Celebrating 100 years of Global Discovery.'” To complete the live demonstration, the prospectors brought gold in from a local area in celebration of a new discovery. Said Yael, “These guys brought us some gold from the Parkerville area, which is a historic placer camp that has had some recent drilling discoveries, so some actual mineralization as opposed to placer.” These discoveries have led to new options for an old district. Said Yael, “These two gentlemen that were with us today, who are independent placer miners, have found a new placer source in a very old district and so maybe there is another 100 years of gold to be found in the Parkerville area.” Using portable equipment, the prospectors completed the pour on-site as conference onlookers watched. Yael said, “So, they poured us about a thirty ounce gold bar today. It is a portable furnace that is 1500 degrees and is the size of one of those pot-bellied barbeques.” Yael explained why the conference went to the trouble of creating this type of live demonstration. She said, “What an exciting way to show the public how gold is made and what happens to it. They poured the same kind of bars that they ship off to the Canadian mint.”
The gold pour was part of the 100th anniversary of the AMEBC, Yael explained. She said, “This is the 29th Roundup. Again, we're celebrating the 100th anniversary of AMEBC, which is the Association for Mineral Exploration in British Columbia.” It is also their largest turnout in the history of the event. Said Yael, “We have our largest conference ever. We like to believe we are the technical center for mineral exploration excellence in the world and we have over 8,000 delegates this year, smashing our 7,000 delegate registration last year.”
Professionals in the field are not the only participants. Yael said, “One of the things we do every year is we have about 600 students. We call them the 'Rock Hounds,' and we take students in grades four, five and six, plus some high school students and we insert them into the conference so they can meet real geologists, drill scientists, drillers, operators and suppliers so that they understand what minerals and mining means to them and how it relates to their daily lives. So they learn a little bit about the world around them.” In addition to attending the conference with the delegates, the students actually contribute their own displays. Said Yael, “The students make projects that are similar to the companies that display here at the conference. We get the students to make similar displays on what they've learned from mining and about mineral exploration and this year's is the best crop we've ever had.”
At the core of the buzz at the conference was the rapid development that British Colombia has seen in recent years in terms of mineral exploration. Said Yael, “What we are excited about going forward is, ten years ago, investment in British Colombia was at $29 million dollars in exploration. In 2011, last year that just finished, it is estimated that $463 million dollars was spent in British Colombia.” That large an increase is dramatic enough, but that is not the only change that British Colombia has seen in recent years. Yael said, “Not only that, in Vancouver itself, we have 600 to 800 mining and mineral exploration companies based here and they go out and about to the world. Somewhere between $6 and $12 billion dollars were invested in these companies and went both to British Colombia and Canada for global exploration. That's an exciting new trend in ten years to move from $29 million to $463 million of investment.”
Given the increase in the size of the industry, it is no wonder that there was a record breaking 8,000 delegates at the conference. When asked about the biggest challenge for the organizers, Yael said, “Our biggest challenge is always our space. We have so many people here with 8,000 delegates at the Westin Bayshore, but the Westin staff is so tremendous. Our biggest challenge is working with them to make sure everybody has a good time and everybody sees and does everything they need and want to do here at the conference.” Over the next few years, the conference is hoping to expand. Yael said, “We are looking for new ways to accommodate all the people that want to attend.” There are so many people in attendance that there are numerous outdoor events. Yael explained, “We've had things outdoors for a number of years. It is sort of expanding on what we can and cannot do and the Westin works with us to build these tent spaces to expand the area that we have available.”
For those working in exploration who did not attend the conference, Yael had this challenge: “This is the place to be. If you are an explorer, you'd better be here and you'd better see what is going on. We are the best place to learn about new discoveries and new exploration techniques. Please join us again in 2013.” With a record breaking crowd, community support and the coordination of the Westin Bayshore the Mineral Exploration Roundup Conference is already looking forward to 2013.