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Volume 95 Number 6

The Global Mining Newspaper

Apr 3 - 9, 2009

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Daily News Friday, April 03, 2009

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Filling Bay Street's mining information gap

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George McIsaac, David Love and Boyd Davis all want to fill in an information gap. While Toronto is known as the capital of the world for raising mining capital, the three men see no reason for Bay Street to rest on its laurels. After all, the whiz kids on Bay can sometimes be out of touch with the nitty and the gritty of the mining business. With mathematics and financial prowess often the chief criterion for gaining eminence on the Street, there can be more than a few people that find themselves in important research positions while lacking a sound grasp of the fundamentals of mining. The three adjunct professors want to change that and are bringing the intense two day mining course back to the financial district towards that end.

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The course is the brainchild of Michael Doggett , a geology professor at Queen's, and was first offered in November 2006. It has since been coming to town once or twice a year. Doggett explains that while teaching a one week course geared towards getting mining students up to speed on the financial side of things, he was approached by a number of people who wanted to see a "‘rocks for money people' instead of a ‘money for rocks people' course." While the course is geared towards analysts and research associates, the difficulty of the material is not out of reach for the average investor with a passion for the mining game. Each of the three instructors tackles the key elements of mining that they specialized in: Love takes on geology, McIsaac resource estimates and mining and Davis metallurgy. And while investors and associates make up the bulk of the students, the course also delves into the technical aspects of mining in a manner that a few mining companies could benefit from as well. Boyd says he realizes just how much knowledge some companies lack every time he goes to the PDAC and visits with smaller companies. "Often you have some kind of venture fund with $100 million, so the guy that's running it will take 20 different companies at $5 million a pop," he says. "All you need is a couple to work, but 17 of them have got a whack of cash for nothing, hired a hole bunch of guys, and they're out of business in a couple of years because either their process stinks or the people running it don't know what they're doing, or they can't bring in any more money." And while courses like the one they are offering can help, Boyd says companies going public with a project that relies on a metallurgical process need to get some top end consultation. "For a few thousand bucks they could get an expert review of something and get some guidance," He says. "I'm surprised that no one ever does it." But projects run by individuals that are more interested in spinning a story than doing the tough technical work are only one problem, another is the much discussed lack of people with sound technical knowledge available to help keep the

industry and markets as informed as they could be. And while the industry has fought hard over the last many years to try and convince high school graduates to enter into mining related studies at university, the problem doesn't stop there. McIsaac says it's not only a lack of people studying mining, it also has to do with people who already have such degrees moving on. "A few friends of mine that are miners with MBAs went to work with banks or brokerage firms," he says. "They stayed in mining at first then worked their way out of mining. That's expertise that is leaving." To get expertise back into the system, the adjuncts are careful to explain what can be at times opaque terminology in geology, exploration and metallurgy, using succinct examples and spending generous amounts of time taking questions and providing clear answers. And they have the academic chops to back up those answers. Boyd did his post doctoral in metallurgy and has been consulting since 1988. In 2002 he started his own company which runs a lab that buys copper and then electro-refines it. McIsaac, who teaches the resource estimate and mining sections of the course, is a mining engineer that spent and 8 years in Chile as senior project engineer and superintendant engineering for Lac Minerals before returning to Canada to do his PHD at Queen's. He now works as a private consultant, helping junior miners with a range of issues from scoping studies to valuing a deposit, to devising exploration plans or how to properly deal with mine abandonment. Love also did his PHD at Queen's and has considerable experience both in the field and in the classroom. And while none of the three are tenured professors they have a wealth of real world experience that pure academics often lack. "We're operators," McIsaac says. "Other professors have a different approach to problems. They might be trying to come up with new theories and new processes but don't necessarily take a look at what's being done out there in the world and analyze that." The Basics of Geology, Mining, and Processing course will get underway at the Marriott Hotel in Toronto on May 10th and 11th.

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