PDAC 2024 – The Death or Resurrection of Canadian Mining Investors

Published on: Mar 22, 2024
Author: Gilbert Chan

The PDAC felt very differently for me this year. Well, to begin with, I didn’t attend last year cos my baby boy was due, one of the rare times that I missed the event during my last 20 years in the business. So the 2 years’ absence has made my previous memory feel more distant.

Firstly, I remember people all rushing in during the beginning hours of PDAC on Sunday morning, but quite contrary that wasn’t the case. It was a steady flow later in the morning, maybe people have learned their lessons and taken their name badges already beforehand?

Then there was the absence of the amazing shuttle bus that transported participants from various downtown locations to the Convention. I had to ask the Info Center person to confirm such news. I am devastated.

The lighter printing of program materials also reminds me that this is 2024 already, not 2004 when we had to cut down on waste and save the planet.

Then, there was the weather, which is extremely warm for Toronto standard during this time of the year. I really don’t recall when was the last time during PDAC I had a 16C outside temperature with the sun beaming down at me.

With age I grew wiser, I tried to balance my time spent on useful talks and interaction with people on the floor.

I attended 2 keynote addresses and a few talks during the conference. The keynote by Michael Stanley from World Bank was eye-opening with many useful data provided. While Caterpillar’s Denise Johnson’s key message really was telling people that lowering carbon emission is one thing, having the mine economical is another thing. There is no point in going all in for EVs or other renewable energy in terms of equipment without their customers fully on board. It has to go step by step. Mines cannot operate if they are not profitable. I think investors also have to realize that as well, instead of pushing companies to go all-in for carbon reduction.

I am particularly impressed by Pierre Lassonde’s honest comments on the state of Canadian Mining, that we have become irrelevant in the world mining space. He is always charismatic. You can definitely feel that energy in the room when he speaks. He pointed out the main issue is that even the Pension Fund in Canada is not even investing in our own mining businesses anymore. He used Australia as an example when their major funds have always had ownership in BHP, Rio Tinto. Australians are proud of owning a piece of the mining businesses, while we Canadians, are nowhere near to supporting our own. “The government has given up on its own mining business 25 years ago.” Mr. Lassonde stated. He even urged us to advise our MPs (Members of Parliament) if they can push the government to support more local mining companies funding, including a must for the pension fund to invest in select sizable Canadian public mining companies.

So where are the Canadian Mining Investors?  

While I still have a few mining stocks (old or new) in my portfolio, the same cannot be said for most Canadians.  In fact, I doubt if you ask any of your friends who are NOT in the mining industry if they have owned a mining stock in recent years.  Chances are very slim that the answer is Yes.  

The minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, actually made a trip to PDAC this year and said its critical minerals supply is important to Canada and that they won’t allow other countries like China to try to own these assets, and there are laws to be respected by Canadian companies.  On another hand, did the government really do much to support the miners here in Canada besides drumming for a critical mineral strategy in the headline?  Critical Minerals strategy has to include the explorers and miners in the equation, but capital funding is so few and far between.  Why are the miners not getting any love at all?  Or Do I miss something here?    

Even though it may seem like doom and gloom overall in the mining capital markets, one of my client companies Pulsar Helium was enjoying a surge in its stock price during PDAC time. I went to their mingle event one night and it’s a rare scene that the guests and hosts mostly celebrate, while in other events people are mostly whining and dampening in spirits.  So there you go, there is always a million dollars in the room, you just need to know where to find it.  

So what did I really learn after this PDAC trip?  I finally realized I am really part of the value chain of the entire mining industry, I promote mining, I invest in mining, and I believe in mining.  

So far as investment goes, I will be loading up gold stocks this year.  I am fairly confident that some of the quality gold explorers and producers will do very well in 12 months.  They have already risen so far since the beginning of the year, due to the rise of gold price.  But it’s only just the start.  I believe I will probably make a bit of money by next year.  But that wouldn’t change the Canadian mining industry much, would it?   Can we Canadians be proud of our mining industry?  Or like others, who mostly think Mining is out-of-date and becoming out of touch with what’s going on in the world?    

By Gilbert Chan, President, NAI Interactive Ltd. (NAI500)


PDAC 2024 Convention Recap