Geologists and prospectors compare notes during this break at the 2019 version of the Smithers Exploration Group’s annual Rock Talk convention. (Smithers Exploration Group photo)

Geologists and prospectors compare notes during this break at the 2019 version of the Smithers Exploration Group’s annual Rock Talk convention. (Smithers Exploration Group photo)

Rock enthusiasts gathering in Smithers Feb. 23-24

Community tops list where exploration companies spend money

The Smithers Exploration Group (SEG) is planning its annual convention here Feb. 23-24 bolstered by two reports placing the northwest first in the province where mineral exploration dollars were spent in 2021 and Smithers as first among all B.C. communities benefiting from the exploration industry.

Almost $366 million, or 55 per cent of total exploration spending in B.C., took place in the northwest last year and at an estimated local expenditure of $105.2 million, Smithers topped Vancouver in second place and Prince George in third place.

Historically Smithers has been the acknowledged regional base for exploration companies of all kinds, a factor affirmed in the report for 2021 prepared by the B.C. Geological Survey and by a survey conducted by the Association for Mineral Exploration.

Companies and individuals searching for commercially viable mineral deposits used Smithers as a base for a wide range of needs including camp equipment and other supplies, transportation, rentals. accommodation, food and specialized services such as drilling.

The $366 million exploration for the northwest region stretching from Haida Gwaii to Burns Lake in 2021 was the highest spend in the last 20 years, outpacing the $225 million spent in 2020, the $180 million in 2019 and far away more than the $7 million spent in 2001.

The SEG’s annual gathering is known as “Rock Talk” and this year’s theme is “Business as usual, Urgently”.

“The talks focus on the large amount of mineral exploration and are directed to geologists,” Rock Talk chair Jessy Chaplin says.

“However SEG welcomes suppliers and contractors to get a preview of the next field season.”

”Mineral exploration in BC has to meet upcoming global demands for metals during the transition to solar, wind and tidal energy,” says Chaplin. “Geologists and prospectors are critical to growing mineral resources. SEG supports this growth through its events such as Rock Talk 2022.”

Formed in 1971, the SEG is the recognized lobby group for the mineral industry in the northwest.

Rock Talk this year takes place at the Smithers Curling Club in person and there is also a virtual component.

~With files from Deb Meissner