May 17, 2024

Reflections on PDAC 2024

Written by: Sabrina Dias

I’ve been in mining for 24 years. That sounds weird to me because, technically, that could be defined as a “long time”. But it doesn’t feel so long.  Except when I attend PDAC.  Then I see how much has really changed over the years.

From business convention to friendly reunion

This was my tenth year (eleventh? I’m losing count) attending PDAC. PDAC is supposed to be the big annual hustle – for investors, for business, for clients. However, for the past few years I’ve been approaching PDAC like a school reunion. These days, PDAC is a chance to meet up with and hug former, current and new colleagues and clients from around the world. This is my biggest source of joy for PDAC, my fuel for the intense marathon that it is. And, as SOOP continues to grow, so do the number of hugs and walks down memory lane. It’s one of my favourite times of the business year now.

Sustainability line-ups

Perhaps it is the wisdom I’ve collected in my almost quarter century in this industry, or perhaps it is the many bumps and bruises and the get-back-ups and recoveries over the years, but lately I find myself experiencing PDAC with wonder too – wonder at who else I will meet and connect with this year, wonder at how sustainability is on the tip of almost everyone’s tongue, wonder at what fun swag I will find to bring back to my son (squishy rocks and mints or candies) and husband (socks and USB keys), wonder at the price of coffee/tea in the MTCC kiosk.

For the most part, there were many positive changes this year. Here are a few I thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in:

This year, everyone – not just me! – noticed the cross-listings of the Sustainability program with Technical and Capital Markets programs. Not going to say, “I told you so for many years” (😉) but I will say “Thank you” to PDAC for taking yet another step to normalize sustainability by trying to seamlessly incorporate it into the program. Well done, PDAC! Well done for now; and still more to do.

The more subtle things of note, though, were wonders and clear markers (in my opinion) that the mining industry is truly evolving, inch by inch.

Firstly, tons of fellow females ran the PDAC marathon à la Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl (the ‘80s Hollywood movie). We rocked our New Balance running shoes with our stylish suits in fashionable comfort, cheerfully hugging and high-fiving “sans” back pain and aching feet. I swear I could have gone another three days if the Convention did.

Running shoes were timely this year since most of the sustainability sessions were standing room only – whaaaat?  I know! 24 years ago, this demand for sustainability was only a vision in my head. A long time ago I also swore I’d never stand in another line for anything ever again – for a trendy restaurant, hip nightclub, a Boxing Day sale, nothing. I broke this golden rule on March 4, 2024 for the Indigenous program at PDAC. Do you know how significant this is??

In 2005 I practically had to beg people to come to my Lunch & Learn sessions (these were held in the basement of my old employer’s building for knowledge sharing amongst employees) about the ahead-of-its-time sustainability program by Rio Tinto at the QMM site in Madagascar.  At PDAC 2024 though, the crowds were lining up to learn and understand more about Indigenous relations and all other things sustainability; it was standing room only for almost all sustainability sessions! As mentioned earlier, luckily (or rather, smartly, due to my wisdom) I was wearing my running shoes and was, therefore, able to happily chat with other eager delegates while we waited in the lineup for entry.

Secondly, PDAC installed a quasi-wellness space. “A” for intention, “D” for effort, PDAC. A medical-style curtain separating a couple of stiff chairs from a high-traffic area is a small step in the right direction. PDAC, please call me and I’ll point you in the direction of experts who will help you raise your grade and create a useful quiet space for delegates to escape to for a few moments, to take deep breaths and self-regulate, before heading back into the PDAC chaos.

Winners of the best swag are…

Exhibit booth with bananas on table
Northstar Gold booth, PDAC 2024

Bananas. Early in the morning on the last day of PDAC ’24, I meandered around the quiet Investor Forum before the start of the sessions and came across an exhibitor with a bunch of bananas on their desk. I passed by slowly, eyeballing the bananas, then stopped, turned around and paused at the table, staring at the bananas in wonder. “Is this your swag?” – I was curious so I had to ask. Plus, I was mildly hungry. (PDAC week is in some ways similar to trekking through the bush, tracking villages in the area of influence.) With smiles and nods, the lovely fellows at the exhibit said, “Yes for sure. Help yourself.” Fantastic! The best swag of the week – a shot of potassium to get a delegate through the last day of the PDAC marathon.  I felt so cared for. Brilliant, Omai Gold Mines, brilliant.

And SOCKS! How can I forget the swag socks this year? In past years, I would return home daily from the Convention with swag, including one or two pairs of men-sized dress socks sporting corporate logos in corporate colours. Due to size, I always regifted them to my husband.

This year, however, one of those pairs of socks was FEMALE-sized. Whaaaattt?? I know, right?? Who would have thought? Bravo, STANTEC, bravo!!! Clear inclusion in its most subtle and understated form is a huge stride forward in realizing that women are half the planet and should (one day, will) make up half the mining industry.

Did you attend PDAC this year? If so, what were your biggest Aha moments? Your best swag? We’d love to know – drop us a line at