February 2015

President's notes

It all starts with exploration!

By Sean Waller

Sean_WallerMy first employment in the minerals industry was working in hard rock exploration during the summers while I attended the University of British Columbia, pursuing a degree in geology. Upon graduation in 1980, the oil industry was booming, and I headed to Calgary to start a career in petroleum exploration. Eventually, my career path led me into the operation and design of mining projects. Now, working with a junior mining company, I am once again involved with mineral exploration. Having seen all sides of the mining business, in my view, exploration is the most exciting aspect – discovering a new mineralized outcrop, drilling a well-mineralized intersection, or striking oil! Canadian exploration companies and geologists work in all corners of the globe searching for mineral and petroleum deposits, driven at least in part by this sense of excitement.

It bears repeating: exploration is the future of our industry. Yet, the importance of discovery of the future supply of minerals to support the demands of society is often underappreciated by the broader public. To complicate matters, recently the conventional sources of capital for exploration and development have virtually dried up, and those that have capital are deploying it sparingly, leaving many exploration companies curtailing, if not eliminating, their activities.

These downturns are not new but they are damaging, as the discovery of the minerals so critical for future supply is delayed. Furthermore, during these downturns academic and technological research slows, young people are discouraged from entering the industry and some veterans leave, not to return.

There are no easy solutions; we must wait for the mechanics of supply and demand to take effect. As we have seen before, this will cause mineral prices to rise, potentially dramatically, and then once again exploration will be big business. With that in mind, it is exciting to consider two important Conferences: PDAC in Toronto in March, and the annual CIM Convention in Montreal in May. The preliminary program for the latter can be found in this issue, and as you will` see, the very best of our industry will be on display – come and experience it!

Sean Waller
CIM President


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