AHEAD OF THE CURVE CONTENT: Andrew on Andrew... Mr. O'Donnell chats about the realities of exploration in northern BC with Andrew Wilkins, QP from Mountain Boy Minerals.
Hi there mining friends!
Sending this 24 hours early as, I'll be somewhere over the Atlantic on a 777 for most of tomorrow!
What a weird week it has been. I've found reactions across social media to Teck's withdrawal from Alberta projects and the pipeline protests thoroughly distasteful. A quick scour of Twitter or Facebook will expose CEOs, newsletter writers and company reps insulting First Nations people, environmental principles and being sexist in a way I find completely unacceptable in 2020.
The same people who stand up and celebrate regional communities at events and showcase their company's environmental principles across the web, have flagrantly disregarded them in toddleresque rants, probably in reactionary anger, because we've all had a tough week in the market, but notably in public without consideration.
We have a severe PR issue in mining. Whether we like it or not, we have all but lost an entire generation of potential investors and skilled workers, because we've failed to address their concerns openly. While miners have really cleaned up their act, behaved better and made real efforts, the words of a select few 'dinosaurs' have now dragged us back to an 'us Vs them' loggerhead. The hard work we've all done to educate and excite people about exploration and resource extraction, is being wasted.
What these stone-set and backward-looking statements about 'all protestors being paid for socialists' do is polarise. My experience, as a protestor myself against the Adani coal projects and UK onshore gas, is that the majority of people involved want answers and resolution, they need to understand the issues better and what is being done to fix them, that’s why they're protesting! The companies are the ones making the $$$ and asking for access to our shared resources and thus, they are responsible for proving their commitments and engaging people in every way they can. Remember, I am an occasional protestor, but also a pro-mining geologist and commentator. I will support honest and successful projects; I will also stand up when I see a poorly run and planned project.
Not all protests are right. They are mostly a result of poor communication, but sometimes a result of genuine issues not being resolved.
Often, I think a nice cup of tea with the company, local government and protest leaders can solve the problem, from direct experience. We trialed this technique in Portugal in 2015 with a local protest group. We bought beers and food and sat down together in a locked room, gave our no BS presentation about a project and got them on side after honestly answering a long and heavy series of questions about funding, environmental damage and impacts. Having answered those questions face to face, the protest group got behind the mining project (which sadly never came to anything) and we all worked together for land access and monitoring. The cost was €200. If the company can't sit down and make these promises and answer these tough questions, they shouldn't be operating and, the protest is justified.
Take a step back for a moment, whichever side you're on. Look at the polarisation of the UK over Brexit and the US over its political nightmares and take a deep breath. We are better than this nonsense as a community. We are mostly educated professionals able to absorb critical evidence and we should know better than to fan the flames of volatile protest groups. We should know from experience that protests win against mining. Insults, threats and anger do not silence ideas. Positive communication and engagement can however change ideas.
As we approach PDAC and a major gathering of our mining family, Think carefully about your position on sensitive topics. It's my job, and yours on the line if a few two-faced commentators keep rubbing people the wrong way. Encourage positive dialogues, go and chat with the protestors outside the event, every one of us may be able to mention a fun fact, an interesting story or an example of a clean project and eventually, bring them inside to learn with us over an even table, rather than protest against us from outside.
Remember, you're being threatened by a very real issue. Industry can leave Canada quickly and be replaced in China, Europe or the USA... Which China, the USA or Europe would love. Canada has a proud modern history of being calm and reasonable. Now would be a good time to exercise it and bring everybody together.
As always, this is just my opinion. I am always open to replies and chat over a beer and I'm (very) often wrong and ready to change my beliefs. I just think together, we can do much better.
I'm really looking forward to catching up with you all again! We'll have a little of our video work showcased on screens with GeophysX Jamaica and Mountain Boy Minerals so, be sure to check out their booths!
We'll also be hosting a stack of interviews and trying to focus on positive projects that aren't so sensitive to a random virus or political tweet. Some have stayed even or even grown despite the crash... Supporting these reliable and strong teams and projects is what will get us through volatile times.
Thanks and have a wonderful day!
Rock of the Day Video: Bruce Gemmell introduces a high-grade silver beauty from Mountain Boy Minerals' project just outside of Stewart, BC.
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