Northern miners exploring for investors at Prospectors and Developers conference

Dozens of northern Ontario mining companies are in Toronto this week, hoping to sign up investors at the annual Prospectors and Developers conference. And after years of sagging metal prices, things may be finally looking up.

More dollars available for mining exploration, but cannabis stocks luring away many investors

The annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto is an important place for junior mining companies to find investors for their projects. (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada)

Pat Dubreuil is working late nights this week in Toronto.

The president of Sudbury-based Manitou Gold is courting investors who might want to inject cash into two potential gold mines in the north.

And at the annual conference of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, that usually means late night conversations over drinks. 

"Quite a few relationships and deals are built over a good craft beer. That's the nature of the business," says Dubreuil.

"You can do the math real quick on the back of a napkin and understand what's going on and what the plan is."

Pat Dubreuil is the president of Manitou Gold. (Manitou Gold )

On top of touting the drilling results from Manitou Gold's properties near Dubreuilville and Dryden, Dubreuil is also talking of his company's partnership with artificial intelligence exploration pioneer GoldSpot.

The northern Ontario mining business has been in a prolonged slump, but Dubreuil says the feeling at this year's conference is that a rebound is right around the corner.   

"I think there's a general feeling that we're turning and a new bull market is coming around," he says. 

"What's difficult is we're chasing exploration dollars and we're competing with cannabis market investors and with the blockchain people, so we haven't seen that much money trickle into junior exploration in the last couple of years and that's the big challenge. Everybody's fighting for the same dollars."

With the price up 12 per cent in the last six months, gold is starting to get the attention of investors again. (RNC MInerals)

Gwen Preston, who edits the mining investment newsletter Resource Maven, says there is a lingering question about whether cannabis and other new industries have "stolen the wind from our sails."

This despite things looking up for the mining industry, with short supplies of copper and zinc, as well as a 12 per cent growth in the price of gold over the last six months. 

"I mean it hasn't turned around dramatically, but there is more capital available than there was last year. I think there's a fair bit of optimism around the outlook for metals, the outlook for gold," she says.

Preston says the Prospectors and Developers conference is crowded with investors of all kinds, but she says with a crowd of 30,000 people, it can be tough to figure out where to put your money. 

"It's not super easy," she says with a laugh. "Conferences like this are always full of opportunity and dangers, I'd say."


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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