The world’s largest mining conference Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) has confirmed one of its delegates tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19 after attending the event last week.
PDAC revealed a male delegate underwent COVID-19 testing in his hometown of Sudbury, 400 kilometres from the Toronto-based venue of the PDAC 2020 convention held from 1-4 March.
He was experiencing a cough and had difficulty breathing following the event, and has been in self-isolation since being tested.
It is believed to be the first case of COVID-19 community transmission in Ontario province.
PDAC said it was supporting an investigation by Toronto Public Health and Public Health Sudbury & Districts into the man’s activities during his two days at the conference.
It will provide more information on potential risks to other attendees as more details become available.
“The health and safety of conference participants remains of the utmost importance to us,” PDAC said in a statement.
“We have been working with public health officials to provide detailed information so they can follow-up directly with individuals and their close contacts.”
A statement by Toronto Public Health said large gatherings with transient interactions – including walking by a person who may be infected with COVID-19 or briefly being in the same room with that person – are considered a low risk.
In the lead-up to this year’s conference, PDAC said it would implement additional health measures in light of concerns around the coronavirus.
These included increased cleaning of “high-volume touchpoints” such as digital touchscreens and door handles, and increased availability of hand sanitiser.
Attendance at this year’s conference was reported to be down 10.4% due to coronavirus fears – final numbers totalled 23,144 compared to 25,843 in 2019.
World’s largest conference
The PDAC conference is a staple on Toronto’s mining industry calendar and has grown in size, stature and influence over 88 years to become the largest of its kind worldwide.
Each year, over 1,100 exhibitors, 2,500 investors and more than 25,000 attendees from 132 countries spend time at the four-day event which offers an expo, technical sessions, short courses and networking opportunities.
The conference brings together investors, analysts, mining executives, geologists, students, and government officials and is believed to inject more than $70 million into the local Toronto economy annually.
“This is the must-attend event for anyone connected to the mineral and mining industry across the world, and marks my 33rd straight year,” PDAC president Felix Lee said last week.
“It is an opportunity for industry professionals to gather and best position themselves and their companies for the year ahead.”
Trudeau in attendance
Toronto is the mining investment capital of the world and Canada is home to more than half the world’s mining and exploration company headquarters.
This year’s event was attended by Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, making him the country’s first sitting leader to appear for two consecutive years.
Other Canadian Government officials such as the ministers for natural resources and international trade also made an appearance.
Mr Trudeau said he had not been tested for coronavirus since the conference but had been following the advice of health experts to stay safe.
PDAC itself has over 7,500 members worldwide, including prospectors; geo-consulting services; equipment suppliers; industry associations; and junior, mid-tier and major exploration and production companies.