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New energy in the mining sector as PDAC 2023 attracts more than 23,000 attendees

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(Kitco News) - Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has once again established itself as the world's mining hub as attendance at the 2023 annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention attracted more than 23,000 people to the nation's largest city.

Wednesday, PDAC said that attendance at its annual conference rose to pre-pandemic levels, with more than 1,100 exhibitors representing governments, companies and leading experts worldwide.

While the precious metal sector has been a major driver of PDAC, a key theme in this year's conference was the growing demand for critical metals. Nearly all presentations during the four-day conference highlighted the increasing demand for critical metals.

Analysts and presented regularly commented on the need for commodities like lithium, cobalt, and rare earth minerals that will be required for the global green energy transition and the growing electric vehicle market as the world adopts carbon-neutral policies.

"There's never been a more critical time for our industry to gather, share and learn as we drive progress, tackle global challenges and seize opportunities for a better future," said Alex Christopher, PDAC President, in a statement. "And the energy and optimism witnessed during PDAC 2023 was palpable—it is clear the mineral exploration and mining industry has entered a period of great transformation and growth."

Keynote speakers during the conference included Ken Hoffman, McKinsey & Company; Sinead Kaufman, Rio Tinto; and Alex Dorsch & Kevin Frost, Chalice Mining.

According to some attendees, growing interest in critical metals and minerals is attracting a lot more new investors to the sector.

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Byron King, editor and precious metals expert at Agora Financial and author of the Whiskey & Gunpowder report, told Kitco News that this was one of the youngest and most diverse crowds he has seen at PDAC in recent history.

Randy Smallwood, President and CEO of Wheaton Precious Metals, told Kitco News he felt a new energy at PDAC. He explained that consumers are starting to realize that if they want electric cars or the latest smartphone, they need to support the mining sector.

"I have never felt more embraced by society than right now," he said.

Matt Geiger, managing partner at MJG Capital, said in his presentation that his firm's mining portfolio has a 50/50 split between precious metals companies and critical metals companies. He added that he is not surprised that critical metals exploration is attracting a lot of attention.

"Gold doesn't really help us live our 21-century life," he said. "Critical metals demand is bringing investors -- new investors -- to the mining space."

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