By Jack Caldwell - Mining Engineer - Robertson GeoConsultants

A professor from far away came today to ask why Vancouver has so many junior mining companies. I had not hitherto pondered this question. We ate, walked, and talked; and here are some of the possible answers we formulated.

First, maybe just because Vancouver is a nice place to live and do business. But that hardly explains anything, so we wondered if it is an accident of history. Both the west coast of the USA and Canada are where there were all the gold rushes of mining history. Maybe the Pacific coast and its cities simply attracted people of independence and initiative. In the old days they panned for gold in rivers and streams. Now they pan for gold in shares and stock exchanges.

We cogitated that in Vancouver you have to be prepared to do something bright and new and far away; for there are not that many ways to do things that make you rich in the town as it is. Maybe in the past it was easy access to ships and now to a fine airport and planes to South America.

We wondered if it is the British Columbian and Canadian legal system that make this place so attractive a location from which to seek new mines in far away places. We decided that the enforcement of law and ethics is probably less onerous here than in the USA. For one thing there are fewer class-action lawyers and no EPA. In my experience, things mining can still get done here in smoky back rooms with the shake of trusting hands. Transparency is so much more pervasive and demanded south of the border.

We speculated that the NI 43-101 is really a kind of facade that bookends but one tiny part of mining integrity and exploration honesty. Most NI 43-101s say there is ore in the ground, but do not really address the true viability of making money by mining it - as witness Rock Creek, Nome, Alaska.

I took the pale-faced Irishman to meet an urbane young geologist who runs a successful junior mining company. They will meet to deliberate in detail later this week. We will never know the ideas and facts they stumble on. But the urbane fellow is so typical of those in the junior mining industry: independent of spirit, smart, hard-working, pleasant, bold, blessed with a fine sense of irony and humour. He can persuade the monied investor to give him yet another try with ease and credibility.

The junior told us that his theory of why there are so many juniors in Vancouver is this: in the summer they can go north and find mines; in the winter they must go south and find mines. There is no perpetual stay; no stasis; no too-much focus on one prospect.

The Irishman asked if the preponderance of junior mining companies in Vancouver has to do with government support. We all thought this was not the case. Regardless of whether you mean Provincialor Federal government. The politicians in Quebec may do thingsto actively promote Quebec mining, but that is tribal instinct at work, not a Canadian way of doing things.

So we left the topic. He will return to Ireland and write erudite papers on the questions this blog only touches on. Maybe I will be able to share the papers with you some day.