As the world's mining community meets for the annual Prospectors and Developers Association conference, the federal government is also talking about its role in promoting development.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver met with junior mining companies at the conference on Monday and he released the latest information government researchers have gathered on remaining mineral deposits.

Oliver said the data is particularly important at a time when the mining industry is going through a downturn.

“We all know that exploration for these type of deposits, especially deeper ones, impales significant financial risk,” he said. “And yet the discovery of these deposits can ensure the industry's longer term prosperity.”

Oliver said the goal is to help companies better understand where new mineral deposits are — as well as their potential size — so they are more willing to invest.

The PDAC event got underway Sunday in downtown Toronto.

Organizers said they're expecting to attract more than 30,000 delegates from 125 countries this year.

The trade show is sold out, and the investor's exchange has more than 500 exhibitors.

This is the 82nd year for the event, which attracts many who work in the exploration industry in northern Ontario.

'A lot of talk' around Ring of Fire

The president of PDAC said there's reason for optimism at this year's event, even though junior mining companies have struggled to find investors, and they've been spending less on exploration.

"We seem to have gotten through all the bad news at this point in time and companies are starting to now get positive ratings in terms of their cost cutting measures and things are looking a little bit more rosier out there these days,” Ross Gallinger said.

Last year at this time, there was concern that close to 600 junior companies would go under, Gallinger noted, but most of them have held on.

Some are holding on for more news on the future of the lucrative, mineral-rich region in the James Bay lowlands.

“[There’s] a lot of talk about the Ring of Fire, that's for sure,” said Bruce Jago, executive director of the Goodman School of Mines at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

“It's on everybody's mind … companies are waiting for a decision.”

In a recent report, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce called on both the provincial and federal and governments to commit funds to building roads and other transportation infrastructure.

Jago also said that the government has to help resolve some of the issues with affected First Nation's communities before development in the Ring of Fire will move forward.