I guess that at least 90 percent of the readers of this site are not members of the Canadian Institute of Mining. So like me they cannot get the papers from the 2006 CIM conference in Vancouver without paying large sums of money. And as my daughter says: “Why pay when you can get the same information for nothing elsewhere on the web.”

As a non CIM member and without paying you can access the abstracts of the 115 papers from the conference. I did and here is my report.

At least five of the abstracts I called up have no text—only a simple blank. Sad, as those papers sounded interesting. Probably there is no paper either? This posting of non-abstracts and non-papers reached fascinating heights in the case of the paper entitled: “Perspectives from Communities” by Mr. TBA TBA. And in the paper entitled: “TBA” by Mr. Didier Fohlen.

The great majority of the abstracts point to papers that appear to describe the geology or mineralogy of a Canadian deposit. At random I chose one and quote: “Mount Polley, 56 km northeast of Williams Lake, B.C., is a copper-gold alkalic porphyry, hosted in Late Triassic Nicola Group intrusive rocks. Exploration is continuing on the property. Also planned for 2006 is further delineation of the still undeveloped Springer deposit, which will sustain mining for the longer term.” I suppose if you are exploring in the same area, this, and similar papers, are worth purchasing. I do not write further about them because they pertain to so narrow a focus of interests.

Then there are the papers by the manufacturers and suppliers. Obviously they are marketing their products. I find their products interesting, so in the absence of access to their papers, I simply went to their websites, and there I found as much as I suspect is in the for-sale paper. I will write about some of the more interesting in due course—stay tuned.

Then there are the papers by the academics. Intriguing sounding topics. Luckily academics repeat their material, so a quick visit to their websites usually produced another free paper on the same topic. And when this did not happen, a quick e-mail to the academic rapidly produced a reply and lots of information. Thanks to them all—I will write about them too in the near future.

But somehow I cannot shake the conviction that papers by professors at universities supported by the taxpayer should be available at no charge. After all the public paid for the research, the building, the salary, why should they have to pay again to benefit from the research? Similarly with the authors from CANMET.

My boss read this radical statement and reminded me that this site charges people who want to access its more valuable information, and asked if I would be prepared to write stuff like this for nothing. Of course the answer is no. But then my writing is for entertainment and perspective, not for advertising, knowledge transmission, or general benefit. (A lame excuse, I acknowledge.) The quick reply was that it costs CIM money to load the papers and the members pay, so should the paper-seeker. Too true. This all sounds like the debate in Hollywood over the years about CDs and free downloads. CD sales continue to plummet, but 99c downloads continue to soar. Maybe a lesson there for our professional organizations.

There is no way I can recommend paying $20 for any one of the papers [over $2,000 for the hundred or more that are posted] behind the abstracts I read---unless you are seeking information about a property. If you are involved in a due diligence evaluation or a class action law suite, the cost is trivial and the information priceless. Amazing what you can find out about a property and their practices in these unedited, uncensored papers written to support a few days rest and relaxation in a nice city. I have used such papers and the lawyers I have worked for have used such papers to save their clients millions. There is only one mining company I know of that has an effective policy controlling the flow of unfettered information via casual technical papers, and even now they are the target of a hostile takeover bid.