-- Posted 7 March, 2007 | |
The Wallace Street Journal
By David Bond, Editor
The Silver Valley Mining Journal
Toronto, Ontario – It is becoming painfully obvious that the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's annual bash in this otherwise somnambulant capital of Ontario is responsible for two phenomena: the most miserable weather on the planet, and that gigantic retching sound one hears every March 3 or so when the metals regurgitate their recent gains like so many bulimic bullion bars. How else can one explain these miseries, except to blame them on the descent of miners into an otherwise respectable part of the world?
But never a stranger to innovation nor a creature of habit, Peedac came up with a new and we might say dazzling display of dyspepsia when, upon the day of our arrival here this year the venerable CN Tower, which has stood its unsupported 553 meters of height over the city, as uncomplaining and patient as a Canadian wading through a U.S. Customs and Security cue for lo these 30 years, began suddenly and inexplicably to hurl dangerous shards of ice down upon the rabble below, bringing the Gardiner Expressway to a screeching halt and constipating commerce downtown with such a vengeance that it even bothered this peaceful populace's normally unflappable cabbies.
The CN Tower apparently learned its trick during its last winter visit to Wallace, Idaho, where at the Probalistic Centre of the Universe, to wit, the corner of 6th & Bank Streets, the second-storey turret of the Rossi Building begins, about this same time of year, to drool dagger-shaped icicles angled like fangs aimed at the unsuspecting pedestrians below until, finally, somebody comes out of the Rossi and strings a yellow strand of police tape around the killing zone's perimeter until Spring Breakup arrives and the icicles go wherever it is icicles go. But no, not in Toronto. Having sprung to life, the CN Tower hurled frozen cudgels from its half-klick heights for a half-klick or more, boosted by some nasty 40-knot on-shore winds off Lake Ontario.
A late booking for PDAC this year denied us access to any of the usual downtown haunts, relegating us to an agreeable Sheraton hotel on West Lakeshore unfortunately nearer to Winnipeg than to the Royal York, meaning the CN Tower's hissie-fits insinuated themselves in our commute to and from the Toronto Metro Centre every morning and eve.
Meantime during PDAC, Silver fell from its $14-plus heights to $11-something faster than blue ice off a Boeing, and Gold dumped about $80, which prompts us to send a “nasty memo to follow” letter to the PDAC, again to wit: “We are astounded by your ability to move the weather to 30 degrees below (Celsius or Fahrenheit, when it's this cold they're the same) and to pull the drain plug on the metals markets. We have learned to live with these annual phenomena. But ice flying at trebuchet-flung speeds is meteorological Bre-X we'd care not to repeat.”
That said, we must admit that PDAC 2007 was one impressive sumbitch. A population approximately 20 times the size of Greater Metropolitan Wallace's 900 folks (counting women and children) shoe-horned itself into the Metro Centre for more than a half-week of, well, whatever it is folks at a mining conference do. Four thousand more than last year, which was a 74-year record. The three floors of the center reverberated with several dozen languages, colours, creeds, and causes – all bearing concerns central to the issue of mining's future on this intellectually compromised planet. The price drops were not a worry: China and India are still going to grow; paper currencies are ever more precarious; mortgage lenders sleazing off the carry trade will continue to crater, etc., etc., and the PPT will be there to ensure continued Global Prosperity. The major worry amongst this crowd is only, “Where am I gonna find a drill? Or why have they replaced the Heineken with Stella?” But alas, in this new world order, it seems that most of the drill-steel may have been melted down into golf clubs or cocktail shakers for the service economy. Yes, it's still tough to mine. Miners get no respect, even amongst themselves.
Peedac broke camp Wednesday morning. Dawn broke and a blue sky beamed down over a light fresh dusting of snow; the temps were back above freezing; the Gardiner Expressway had reopened; traffic was moving smoothly; and Silver and Gold and their equities were recuperating nicely, inching back up to their pre-Peedac highs. It promised to be a beautiful day. As we sunned ourselves at Pearson Airport, finishing a smoke and waiting for one of Northwest Airlines' coal-powered DC-9s to whisk us back Stateside, the truth from this year's mining convention became obvious: PDAC should leave town more often.
-- Posted 7 March, 2007 | |