Screen shot from Coeur Mining’s presentation during the Smithers Exploration Group’s Rock Talk conference on Feb. 19.

Screen shot from Coeur Mining’s presentation during the Smithers Exploration Group’s Rock Talk conference on Feb. 19.

Rock Talk enjoys near record attendance despite going virtual

Smithers Exploration Group extremely happy with event as it kicks off its 50th anniversary year

In a normal year, Rock Talk is a chance for geologists, prospectors and general rock hounds to get together in Smithers to find out the latest and greatest information on mining and exploration in the Northwest.

But despite having to move online this year, the Smithers Exploration Group (SEG) enjoyed near record attendance for the event to kick off the group’s 50th anniversary year.

“Rock Talk is typically focused on presentations from geologists on projects in the north and the Zoom format that we used worked very well with this,” said

The group considered the conference a great success and a good trial run for future Rock Talks.

“SEG is extremely happy with Rock Talk 2021,” . “While we missed our in-person networking, this worked really well in our currrent circumstances and we will likely stream the conference live once we are back to in-person events for people who live away from Smithers.”

She also noted that while a great feature of Rock Talk is giving attendees a chance to actually see the rocks up close, even that was facilitated by technology this year.

READ MORE: Northwest B.C. mining and exploration briefs

“Because SEG has worked with sister organization BelowBC to photograph its unique collection of Cordilleran rock suites using 3D photography and interactive mapping technology, we were able to bring the audience as close as possible to actual rocks,” said

A total of 95 people plus presenters registered for the conference.

“This is on the high end for a Rock Talk conference, although virtually we anticipate next year to be higher,” said

“The near record attendance reflects how convenient it is to attend a virtual conference. We had attendants from around BC and across Canada. For instance one presenter handled the live question period for his presentation from the cab of his truck in Saskatchewan.”

The group also cited general interest in all the activity in northwest B.C. as a contributing factor noting that last year exploration spending reach a 20-year high at $225 million. Furthermore, that represents more than half of the cumulative spending for the entire province.

Highlights there were both general and specific according to SEG.

“The highlights of Rock Talk are always the highly technical nature of the presentations,” said. “Speakers know they are speaking to a professional audience and share information on exploration programs that might not make it into talks to more diverse audience.”

Specifically, though, they cited two specific projects that made significant advances in 2020.

Coeur Mining reported it has doubled it silver and zince resource estimates for its Silvertip mine with an aggressive drilling program.

Also, Ascot Resources expects to start construction this year and go into production shortly thereafter.

There are also a number of other projects in advanced stages reporting significant milestones (see Northwest B.C. mining and exploraton briefs on Page AX).

The last word on Rock Talk 2021 goes to an undisclosed long-time member who said:

“This is terrific! What a fantastic way to kick off SEG’s 50th anniversary year. What a difference from the first four to six person meeting at the old Smithers Hotel with a rock sample in one hand and a beer in the other.”

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