In January 2018, AME’s Mineral Exploration Roundup conference will celebrate its 35th year.
The idea for the Roundup conference was born on a ferry in 1982 during a conversation between Jack Patterson, Managing Director of what was then the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines, Bob Cathro, the sitting President, and Nick Carter, soon to be the second vice-president of the Chamber.
The trio decided to turn the Chamber’s traditional all-day annual general meeting, followed by a dinner and dance, into a three-day conference. They approached the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and the Geological Survey of Canada to combine the Chamber’s AGM day with the geological survey open houses, where survey results from the previous field season were traditionally shared with the public.
The idea became a reality in 1984, when the first “Cordilleran Geology and Exploration Roundup” was held at the Holiday Inn Harbourside in Vancouver (now the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront), attended by around 700 people. Although the event was a success, the world was in the midst of a global recession and BC was not immune. As Bob Cathro noted in his Presidents Report that year, “…1982 had been the worst year ever for the Vancouver exploration community…”.
The industry rebounded, and the successful Roundup format continued for the next 15 years, under the volunteer management of the previously named “AGM Committee” which included representatives from government and industry. Attendance steadily increased, and Roundup outgrew the Harbourside venue, then the majestic Hotel Vancouver, then the combined Hotel Vancouver and Hyatt Regency, before settling into The Westin Bayshore for 12 years. In 2015, Roundup moved to its current location at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
“Between 1993 and 2000, management of Roundup transitioned from volunteers to staff,” explains Robert T. Boyd, a seven-year Chair or Co-Chair of the Roundup Organizing Committee during that period. “1998 was pivotal year for Roundup,” says Boyd, “It was the year we partnered with the Society of Exploration Geologists (SEG) to host the “Pathways ‘98’ conference”. As a result, attendance jumped by more than 60 per cent between 1997 and 1998, from 1,850 to 3,000 individuals.
“Partnering with the SEG triggered a change in the Roundup format,” said Boyd, “Budgets at the federal, provincial, and territorial governments were shrinking, so industry stepped in to fill two complete days, with the BC Government, GSC, the Yukon, and Alaska now sharing one.” Roundup became a more technical and industry-focused conference, while still true to its roots as an industry-government conference.
Attendance numbers have ebbed and flowed in-step with industry highs and lows, from fewer than 1000 in the 1980s, to just over 2,000 in the year 2000, and up to a peak of 8,320 people in 2012.
The Core Shack has been a mainstay of the conference since 1984, displaying samples from exploration projects around the world. It is always buzzing with activity, along with the busy Trade Show floor. Roundup is so much more than a technical conference, though. Several changes to the format and additions to the schedule in the last decade now demonstrate the full breadth of the work AME does for its members.
“In 2013 and 2014, we looked for ways to bring everything we do as an Association to our members,” said Kendra Johnston, Chair and Vice Chair of the Roundup Organizing Committee between 2013 and 2017. “The Gathering Place moved in to encourage conversations about Aboriginal relations in 2013, and in 2014, we introduced the showcase sessions to talk about land use and access, corporate social responsibility, health and safety… aspects of exploration that all explorers need to be aware of to be successful in BC.”
Public outreach is a priority for AME and Minerals Ed have been touring school groups around Roundup for some 14 years. In 2015, AME welcomed more members of the public with a new initiative called Discovery Day.
But beyond all this, Roundup is a time for friends and colleagues from the close-knit Vancouver exploration community to meet and reconnect. Nothing cheers a rainy January day in Vancouver like laughing with friends, old and new.
Roundup 2018 Program: http://roundup.amebc.ca/
Roundup 2018 Registration: https://reg.conexsys.com/ame18/register
Mineral Exploration Magazine Article, 2007: On the Road to Roundup