Felix Lee,
President,
PROSPECTORS & DEVELOPERS ASSOCIATION OF CANADA (PDAC)
"It does not matter where you are or in which time zone you are in, you will have the opportunity to attend quality presentations and meet your peers and colleagues at the same time.”

The 2021 PDAC event will be the first time the convention is held virtually. What should attendees expect?

PDAC’s tag line has always been: “Where the world’s mineral industry meets”. By going virtual, that tagline really means something because now we are able to reach out across the globe and across time zones – anyone in the world can attend. Individuals that did not have the time or funds to attend PDAC before will be able to this year. We are ensuring that everything attendees expect from a PDAC convention they will find in the new format as well. We will have the trade show, the investor exchange and all the technical sessions on key strategic areas of interest such as sustainability, capital markets, indigenous participation and student programs.

How will the event allow for networking considering attendees will not be able to meet in-person?

The big thing at every PDAC convention is networking, and the virtual format will actually make it easier to meet people. In the past, due to the convention’s size, meeting people could be difficult; in the virtual format attendees can go straight to meetings. In particular, we are excited about the match-making services because they will be effective in bringing together potential partners. An important factor that has distinguished PDAC over the years is that it is a fun event, and we are incorporating entertainment that will keep people fresh and engaged.

Can you comment on PDAC’s role as an advocate for the Canadian mining industry?

For the 361 days of the year that the convention is not happening, PDAC works as an advocacy body on behalf of the mineral exploration sector. Our work covers a broad spectrum of issues that are important to our sector and our members, such as: sustainability, indigenous relations, health and safety, access to land, and capital markets. We are constantly working with the Canadian Federal Government and regional associations to assist them on matters related to mineral exploration. We have made really good progress in the last few years and that has been reflected in the convention itself. The Prime Minister of Canada attended the conventions in 2019 and 2020, and in 2020 we also had three of his cabinet ministers attend and stay for the full three days, which is very telling of the relationship that PDAC has with government. Our work is focused in two main branches. In the short term, working collaboratively to see how our sector can set the economy back on the path of recovery by increasing exploration and discoveries that can generate jobs. Secondly, working to set Canada on the path towards a low carbon economy. We have been working closely to identify the minerals and metals that our industry can help provide which are critical to making that transition.

Do you expect future PDAC events to return to the in-person format, or could a hybrid model be introduced?

The intent is to return to an in-person PDAC convention as soon as it is safe to do so, but from now on there will always be a virtual component to the event, so we may see a hybrid model in 2022. If there is a silver lining of Covid-19, it is that it has put us on the path of developing something we have always talked about internally. Industry veterans will remember the evolution of the convention from the Royal York Hotel to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and what we are seeing now is the next step, the virtual component.

Do you have a final message about what attendees can gain from attending the 2021 conference?

Due to the travel restrictions and social distancing brought on by Covid-19, staying in contact with your peers and networking is more important than ever. We cannot take for granted the collaborative aspects of the trade, and we must be much more proactive in reaching out to our colleagues. The PDAC convention is an opportunity to do that. We are expecting to have a fantastic event that is not dissimilar from previous conventions except for its format. This time, it does not matter where you are or in which time zone you are in, you will have the opportunity to attend quality presentations and meet your peers and colleagues at the same. The convention has always represented fantastic value for money and the virtual event will be no different.