Thunder Bay

Conference aims to build interest in prospecting

About 500 mining industry workers are expected to be at Thunder Bay's Valhalla Inn this week for the annual Ontario Prospectors Exploration Showcase.

Ontario Prospectors Exploration Showcase running this week in Thunder Bay

The 2018 Ontario Prospectors Exploration Showcase, taking place this week in Thunder Bay, hopes to build interest in prospecting. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

About 500 mining industry workers are expected to be at Thunder Bay's Valhalla Inn this week for the annual Ontario Prospectors Exploration Showcase.

The three-day event — running Tuesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 5 — will include guest speakers, a trade show and awards banquets, all with the overall goal of building interest in prospecting, said Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association.

"The biggest thing we can hope is that some of these people that come here either get interested in becoming a prospector, or interested in prospecting, or that prospectors hook up with companies that they can sell their properties to," Clark said Tuesday.

Shortage of prospectors in the province

Clark said there is a shortage of prospectors in Ontario; in addition, the current workforce is aging.

"There is some younger people that are getting into it, and I think they're finding it to be quite rewarding," he said. "They're working both as prospectors and as consultants, and working for other companies. So they're getting a wide range."

And, Clark said, it is a good time for people to enter the prospecting business, as Ontario's mining industry as a whole is in a good place.

"Right now, the industry's getting back on its feet after a number of years of hard times," he said. "Hard times raising funds, and hard times getting things completed in the field without any money."

"The speculative capital is back into the market, and people are back out prospecting and doing exploration."

Guest speakers, trade show

The showcase itself includes about 40 speakers, and a trade show with about 80 booths. Mining companies, geologists, prospectors and suppliers are all taking part, Clark said.

Also, both the Northwestern Ontario Prospectors Association and the Ontario Prospectors Association will hold their annual awards presentations.

The theme this year is "grassroots prospects lead to new mines," Clark said.

"We have these grassroots prospects that are found by prospectors, and eventually, if they're big enough, they'll turn into a mine," he said. "It's usually a prospector that moves them forward, and then a junior company comes in."

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