What to expect from PDAC 2016 (other than being cold)

I can’t make it to Toronto’s this year –shocking, I know, don’t even remind me– but I thought I could join in the fun by doing one of the things I like best, writing.

PDAC is by far the most exciting, lively and useful mining conference I’ve been, and I have been to quite a few. The best part is EVERYONE goes there –granted, except some Australians–, depending on the year and budgets, 20,000 to 25,000 people are there for 4 days; so even if you don’t set up a meeting beforehand (which you should, of course), chances are you’ll run into someone interesting while walking to a meeting, attending a conference, riding a cab, or going to one of the many social functions. I’ve gotten great, long term assignments in the past by just running into someone I had lost contact with.

This past year has been tough for our sector. Completed M&A in 2015 accounted for only $54b[1], the lowest since 2003. But, as an optimist, I can’t help but think things will be improving this year. I already see some signs, and I am hopeful.

Anyway, back to the mega event. My way of participating is this: I decided to do some futurology and predict what I think could happen. So here goes:

  • Latin America will be this edition’s sweetheart, with lots of interest in the region. Several delegations will be present, promoting mining in their countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have official presence. I will be posting all the events related to these and other Latin American countries so make sure you follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
  • More (aspiring) small producers, as Canadian juniors keep moving from the pure explorer model to producer. Red Eagle Mining (TSX-V:RD) is on such a quest.
  • More juniors becoming toll mill operators, in a bid for accessing easy cash flow and enticing investors looking for safer options. One example of this model is Inca One (TSX-V:IO).
  • Several private equity funds on the lookout for undervalued mines in operation. Again Latin America is high in the list of priorities, although Africa will do well too, especially with the latest Survey of Mining Companies from the Fraser Institute.
  • The suppliers that attend are probably the stronger ones so they are doing well. Expect them to have invested a reasonable amount in some parties. Not much merchandising and souvenirs in the booths though… that proved too frivolous for marketing budgets now, so got reduced severely last year.

What’s your take? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. I will post an update the week after, we’ll see if we are right!

Paola Rojas is a resource specialist from Argentina, focused on connecting capital and opportunities in Latin America. She is a director at Synergy Resource Capital, based in Sydney. She holds a Master of Commerce in Finance, from the University of New South Wales.

[1] According to Bloomberg: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-08/private-equity-mining-deals-seen-rising-in-2016-as-majors-sell

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