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Postcard from PDAC: Where have all the people (and freebies) gone?

Codename NRI is the brand new IncaKolaNews Canada correspondent (ok ok…it’s a friend at the show). Anyway, NRI sent this dispatch with some impressions of PDAC day one (Sunday). Hope you enjoy:
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Nondescript Retail Investor (NRI) corresponding from the PDAC (Prospectors & Developers Assoc of Canada) conference in Toronto, Ontario…

General impressions from yesterday, Sunday, the first day: Compared to last year which was like a moshpit, the turn out Sunday was noticeably sparser. So, the setting is a big convention centre next to the Rogers Centre (home of the Toronto Blue Jays) and a longer walk than many attendees would venture from the downtown hotels at which they’re staying. Hence, there are free shuttles every 10 minutes during peak times from 4 or 5 of the major hotels. Riding in from the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel at about noon yesterday (not a peak time – a half hour’s worth of ride), there were only 5 of us on this big bus; riding away at about 5pm (peak time) to the Delta Chelsea there were, I believe, 8 of us on the big bus. One guy, an exhibitor, told me that exhibitor registrations were down 25% from last year; another guy told me that that there were also many registrants who didn’t show up.
The convention floor for the Investors’ Exchange – my territory – is maybe the size of a football field; as an NRI I have free access to this territory as I have been issued a large blue bordered name tag which distinguishes me from an Exhibitor or a Trade Show participant. Adjacent to the Investors’ Exchange is another large area – maybe another football field size area? – which is the site of the Trade Show – government types and professional services to the mining business people and equipment vendors , etc – to which I do not have access, as the special name tag facilitating admission to that space costs more hundreds of dollars than I wish to spend and also I have no interest in buying a man portable drill or speaking with a representative of the Ministry of Mines in, say, Sierra Leone. Last year, I did manage to sneak past a guard – who, by prior arrangement, was looking the other way – to get into the Trade space in order to speak with a geologist with the Mexican government; so, I do have a sense about what’s on the other side.

Anyway, back to the turnout – and the Investors’ Exchange – no exaggeration…I believe the Exhibitors and their entourage easily outnumbered the Exhibitees with their blue bordered name tags and black cloth satchels for stashing promo material, etc. And, predominantly, the Exhibitors were clustered together chatting with each other with no captive Exhibitees to whom to promote.

And many booths were unmanned/unwomanned. For example, I passed the Dia Bras Exploration booth; but was unable to posit Otto’s suggested question about whether they had financing as there was no one there. And I went to another exhibitor, the CEO of which I wished to speak with, three times; and no one was ever there.

Another observation: No freebies. Last year, everybody had complimentary pens and notepads and drink holders and raffle tickets and gold foil covered chocolates and stacks of Interra maps and encyclopedic compendiums of analysts reports and satchels and water bottles and on and on…this year, I was hard pressed to get a free pen. And no kidding, I believe there is even a dearth of paper promotional material of the companies themselves – so all these white clothed display tables are considerably more barren. As I talked to an IR person of one explorer company I reached to pick an foldered investor’s package; and the IR guy intervened and offered to email it to me.

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