This week, it was my pleasure to be involved in the selection of nominees for AME BC’s 2015 Gold Pan Award. This award is given for exceptional meritorious service to the mineral exploration community through AME BC. My pleasure in participating in this process lay in studying the biographies of several of our members, and reminded me of their abundant enthusiasm, dedication and optimism. It also served to remind me that among our members are volunteers who serve their families, professions and society.

I believe that our common motive is that we know that mineral exploration and development can positively affect the society we work and live in. Most of us have seen it first-hand – minerals are essential to our world, and their availability is critical to a healthy society and economy. The real impact of responsible mineral exploration is developing the local society’s resources, paying infrastructure-building, region-stabilizing taxes, and making it possible for people to have family-supporting, health-care-providing, children-educating jobs.

No culture or society can avoid consuming. Societies that do not produce what they consume must buy the commodities they need, and the transport or import of those commodities adds social, environmental and financial costs. By producing the materials or their equivalent values, regions can achieve socioeconomic balance. As explorers and developers, we can tip these important scales by finding the minerals, fertilizers and fuels that change social circumstances.

We know that the current state of the market, commodity prices and perceived antipathy toward development are strongly affecting our industry and our members. We also know that these are temporary issues that will be resolved. Consumption continues, and demand will follow, and to the extent that we are delayed in discovering new supply, commodity prices will increase. Indications are that the trend of rural-to-consumer conversion is continuing. Also, while the global population growth rate is slowing, population is still increasing by 75 million per year – and mostly in regions of rapid conversion from a rural-based to consumer-based society.

Minerals are not becoming more readily discovered. Nor are they becoming more readily depleted. They are, however, deeper, more remote, less apparent and more challenging to find. The methodologies used to locate economic mineralization are also advancing. These new technologies are very dependent on high quality regional geology maps and models. In B.C., these maps and models are generated by the expert geological mapping scientists of our Geological Survey Branch.

On top of being essential to land planning, road building and good governance, public geoscience is the infrastructure of our mineral economy. At the heart of the search, prospectors and geoscientists need reliable information and good tools. AME BC continues to advocate for public geoscience, acknowledging the real value of our geologists and their maps to our work and the economy. AME BC also showcases new tools, information and methodologies at our annual Mineral Exploration Roundup conference.

AME BC is a 103-year-old association of volunteers who advocate successful and responsible mineral exploration and development. We have attracted and grown an industrial cluster of geoscientists, prospectors, engineers, entrepreneurs, exploration companies, suppliers and mineral producers to the province of B.C. We have become a global centre of mineral exploration management. Roundup, our flagship annual conference, has become the world’s premier technical mineral exploration event. Public geoscience, new knowledge and new technology come together at Roundup, making Vancouver a January destination for explorers.

Minerals are not becoming more readily discovered. Nor are they becoming more readily depleted. They are, however, deeper, more remote, less apparent and more challenging to find.

I am excited. I look forward to meeting old and new friends, learning new things and making new discoveries at Roundup, and I look forward to the contagious optimism embodied in the event. This year’s conference, themed “Innovation in Exploration,” features emerging trends in our sector presented by leaders from around the world. I hope to see you all there!