Glenn Mullan | 2018 Key Mining Trends & 2019 PDAC Convention Preview

In this interview, Glenn Mullan discusses the key trends and events of 2018 in the mining sector, as well as the upcoming 2019 Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention and what investors can expect and take advantage of by attending.  Glenn Mullan is the 36th President of the PDAC and has been in the mining industry for over 40 years.  The PDAC annual convention will be held in downtown Toronto on Sunday, March 3, through Wednesday, March 6, 2019.  For more information go to:

The PDAC annual convention is the world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention.  It is the leading convention for people, companies, and organizations in, or connected with, mineral exploration. In addition to meeting over 1,000 exhibitors, 3,500 investors, and 25,600 attendees from 135 countries, attendees can also attend technical sessions, short courses, and networking events. The four-day annual convention held in Toronto, Canada, has grown in size, stature, and influence since it began in 1932 and today is the event of choice for the world’s mineral industry.


Bill: Welcome back, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for tuning in to another Mining Stock Education episode. I’m Bill Powers, your host. One of the things that has caused me to really grow as a resource investor over the last few years has been attending mining conferences. And it’s not only listening to the speakers that are at the conferences, but even more so those face-to-face interactions, and discussions, whether it’s in the hallways or at a display booth, and then also the contacts and the professional acquaintances that you’re able to make when you go to these conferences. Well, the largest of all mining conferences is now only a few months away. And I’m referring to PDAC, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Annual Convention, which is held in downtown Toronto. It’s going to be held Sunday, March 3rd through Wednesday, March 6, 2019.

And here to discuss the current mining sector and the upcoming 2019 PDAC Convention is Mr. Glenn Mullan. He’s the 36th president of PDAC, and Glenn is also the president and CEO of Golden Valley Mines. And he’s been in the mining industry for over 40 years. So, Glenn, welcome to the podcast.

Glenn: Oh, thank you very much for having us. It’s an honor.

Bill: And I believe last year when I interviewed you pre-PDAC, you said you had attended or will attend 43 times. So, is this going to be your 44th time?

Glenn: Forty fourth straight and I, unfortunately, haven’t shown that kind of commitment to anything else in my life, but yeah, 44 straight conventions.

Bill: As you look back over the past year in the mining industry, what do you consider to be some of the most important stories, trends, or events?

Glenn: Well, there were a couple of catalytic, I guess, moments or transactions. By far the biggest transaction through the year was the combination of Barrick with Randgold. So, in terms of money or market capitalizations, that was probably the story that captured the interest of the media by and large. And given that both of them are focused on the gold space, creating the last largest gold mining company in the world, that was definitely story number one. In terms of headlines and new buzz words that we heard through 2018, definitely innovation, big data, analytics, cyber security. Those were things that dominated the spectrum not just for public companies, but for mining companies in general.

So, diversity and innovation are definitely key parts of pretty much all the trade shows, and forums, and discussions, and panels that are discussing topics of interest right now. And I don’t think you can talk about 2018 without confronting the harsh reality that gold prices were in a bit of a retreat. So fortunately, it wasn’t a precipitous, but it was constant. And so, losing about $100 through the year off the gold price was definitely, you know, a component to the discussions and business plan adjustments and so on and so forth. So, those would be the three main things.

Bill: And that Barrick and Randgold merger, can you speak a little bit from your perspective, what is the significance of that? What does that mean for the industry?

Glenn: Well, I suppose a couple of things when, you know, the best deals tend to be done in the worst of markets. And I’m not sure that we’re in the worst, but I am sure that we’re not in the best. And so, these kinds of transactions tend to proliferate or become more common in difficult circumstances. And that’s what, you know, has characterized the gold sector primarily. When you see transactions like that at the top end, it’s not uncommon to expect more of the same at the lower end, mostly in the junior space. So, I would expect that we’ll see more juniors looking at consolidations as well. It’s difficult to raise financing. It’s difficult to conduct exploration programs without new injections of capital, so you tend to see lots of combinations in challenged markets like these. I thought it was interesting, also in terms of the Randgold-Barrick combination, that they’ve really focused on different continents. So, Randgold being primarily in Africa and Barrick through the Americas, so, that truly creates a global phenomenon, a behemoth in the goldmining space.

Bill: For those that aren’t familiar with the PDAC, what is the PDAC Convention and why should investors attend?

Glenn: Well, first of all, it’s fun. You know, and that’s a good reason to do anything. But after 86 years, the PDAC Convention has become known for a couple of things. One, probably the premier networking platform for the mining industry. So, the main reason to go to anyone’s convention in any sector is the networking that occurs and the opportunity to hobnob or to have general discussions not just with co-investors, but CEOs, geologists, vice presidents, people involved in every sector of the industry, and not just geology. So, it’s definitely an investing convention primarily as well. So, 1,000 exhibitors, 3,800 maybe even 4,000 investors this year, that’s what makes it so huge. Last year, we had over 25,000 in attendance, which by itself is remarkable. And probably the greatest attribute is how international it’s become.

So, last year, I think we had folks from 135 countries and, you know, we’re proud of that because nobody else in Canada, no other industry can count those kinds of numbers. Not the fishing industry, not pharmaceuticals, not cannabis or cryptocurrencies, but the mining industry brings people from 135 countries. And there’s a lot of stellar programming at our convention. That’s probably why so many people seek it out and continue to come: capital Markets, Aboriginal Affairs, CSR to name but a few. There’s about six different key components to the programming strategy and some of the best speakers from their respective domains, so certainly our keynote sessions are always extremely well-attended. Governments attend so not just the Canadian federal government, but governments from the provinces territories, municipalities. And this will be the fourth year we do our International Mines Minister summit. So, that’s attesting, again, to the international fabric that’s become dominant. It’s a lot of fun though. So, I mean, that’s what kicks off the convention and that’s what usually causes the closing Gala. They’re really fun type events to attend. So, definitely I encourage people that haven’t done it to seek it out.

Bill: I was communicating with one full-time mining investor who’s been in this sector for about 15 years. And I asked him what he appreciates most about PDAC, and he said one of the things is learning about specific jurisdictions. You can often ask a mining CEO about a jurisdiction and, of course, they’ll probably give you some positive reply. But he said he liked going to PDAC because he can actually speak to many of the delegates that are from some of these countries. Can you speak more about how a mining investor can learn about specific jurisdictions while attending PDAC?

Glenn: Yeah, and it’s not hard to notice. So, when you’re walking around Toronto, or the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, in particular, where the convention is hosted, there are huge delegations from certain countries. So, certainly Australia and China would dominate the list. They both send very large delegations. And so, that’s great fun in its own right because there are these groups of people that are circulating through the city for most of the week. And beyond that there are very small delegations from so many African nations, including some who began attending just over the past few years. So, whether it’s Cameroon or Sierra Leone, or Kenya, or Burundi, you know, we’ve got delegations from most of the 34 African nations that are producing something in the mineral space.

And amongst the other 20 countries on the continent of Africa, there are lots of delegates that are seeking out the convention as well to see how they might participate in mining development, mining exploration, mining infrastructure, as their respective domains begin to become more receptive to foreign investment. So, that’s really quite interesting when you do have the opportunity to ask not just residents, but participants in either the corporate side or the government side from respective nations. And the same is true for Central America, South America, most of Asia. You know, amongst those 135 countries that are represented are some very small ones who are attending for their very first time, and then there are some of the behemoth mining powers like South Africa, United States, and again, Australia who continue to attend in robust numbers. So it’s a great opportunity to get the real background on what’s happening in different jurisdictions.

Bill: And as an attendee, you really get a good first-hand feel on the sentiment for the mining sector, not just from investors, or governmental representatives, or company executives, but you have a whole exhibit hall where you have those that supply services or products to the mining industry. I remember walking for a whole afternoon talking to people that run drill rig companies, geophysical survey companies or drone companies, and you can engage them and ask them , “how’s business going?” You know, “how many companies have called you up?” So, it’s quite the opportunity that many other mining conferences don’t afford the attendee.

Glenn: Right, and that’s what some refer to as the split personality of the PDAC. We have the trade show side which is occupied by, as you’ve said, the suppliers and service providers. And also a lot of the nations that attend have their boots in that location on the trade show side. And then there’s the investor side or the company side where most of the junior mining companies and mining companies are hosted. So, certainly between the two there’s a great opportunity to get a real sense as to how companies are really doing and what the state of the industry is at this moment in time.

So, it’s also a great opportunity for the curious to look at some of the new products and supply services that are out there. Some of the virtual reality, artificial intelligence components have displays that are available for, you know, the simply curious. The drone manufacturers are always quite keen to show how small, how useful, how versatile their products are. With drones you usually assume that you’re talking about airborne, but there are just about as many submarine applications now, so that’s always quite fascinating to look at. And in terms of the drilling technology, it’s always something to look at, you know, how important drilling is to the mining industry. So, certainly the drilling industry and Canadian Diamond Drilling Association always have huge displays as well. Anyway, it is a great opportunity not to be missed.

Bill: Last year in our interview, pre-PDAC, I really appreciated the thoughts you shared about how mining investors should prepare to maximize the conference. Can you share, again, about how one should set their schedule and plan out their PDAC attendance?

Glenn: Yeah, well, for veterans, it’s not difficult. They already know the shortcuts. So, the application that you can use for your cell phone, you know, folding the key pages from your hard copy of the program and so on. But for first-time attendees, the best investment that they can do with their time is to actually plan the convention. So, go through the program and highlight the areas that are of personal interest. So, not everyone is going to be interested in specific programming content in the capital markets or CSR program, but many are. So, it’s a fact that most of the sessions are attended and not just well-attended, but to bursting capacity. So, you really need to plan your day in advance and not just let it unfold.

You know, there’s so much noise, so much activity, so many competing things that are happening during the four days of the convention that you can get lost in the shuffle if you don’t actually have a strategy. So, we always encourage, especially the students who don’t have the practical industry experience to go through the whole program and tick off the areas that are of interest for each day. And we try to do that in a way that makes it easier on a daily basis, sending a daily snapshot of key events. But the program is the best source and the best resource for going through all of the details from the morning through nighttime events. There’s always the social events that complement the daytime technical sessions, but there’s also the drill core that’s on display at the prospectors’ table that have their rock samples on display as well and not just from Canada but from anywhere. So, it’s a great opportunity for the simply curious to really find out what’s going on across the whole spectrum from the most junior of prospectors and independents to the largest mining companies in the world. They’re all there.

Bill: And for listeners looking to learn more and to register, you can go to Again, the convention is gonna be held in 2019, downtown Toronto, that’s March 3rd through 6th. Glenn, any concluding thoughts in light of what we’ve spoken about today?

Glenn: Well, I think the first time I went I was amongst those who were overwhelmed. And I continue to be overwhelmed each year, but for very different reasons. Now, the whole day is still abuzz, mostly filled with obligations, and speaking opportunities and so on. But it’s always amazing to see how many people from foreign delegations come to Toronto. And they’re not coming there because of the fine weather and so on. It’s pretty much the lousiest weather of the year and we get 135 countries or more attending. And it’s simply phenomenal. That’s the power of the brand. That’s the power of the mining industry. So, anyone who’s curious or an investor should definitely seek out the PDAC convention and come to Toronto and do the networking.

Bill: Glenn, thanks for coming on the show with me today. I really appreciate it.

Glenn: Thank you very much. What a great opportunity. Thanks.

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