Visitors to the Ontario Exploration and Geoscience Symposium in Sudbury could find booths displaying large-format printers to the latest in geophysical technology.
The two-day event, which focuses on junior miners and exploration and development companies, also showcased some of the services that could be of interest to them.
While geotechnical companies made up the majority of booths, a law firm and an engineering firm said the symposium offered them an opportunity to reach out to the exploration industry.
Weaver-Simmons LLP, based in Sudbury, is the largest full-service law firm in northeastern Ontario with a staff of more than 30 lawyers.
“We have a lot of exploration companies and mining clients as well as some mining supply companies,” said Matthew Dorreen, who focuses on mining in his practice. “We are pretty busy right now so it is good to see faces from time to time and we thought it would be a good idea to have a presence (at the symposium).”
While the firm has attended similar mining events, such as the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada's annual international convention in Toronto, it never had a booth.
“This is the first year we have had a booth at a trade show like this and it has generated some interest from a wide range of people,” he said.
In Sudbury, only a few people practise in the area of mining, but some of the bigger firms in Toronto are involved.
“We are seeing them on the other side of some transactions, but in Sudbury, it is still a fairly niche practice.”
The firm deals with a range of clients including prospectors who might be contesting claims, to large mining companies acquiring large areas of property.
“It could be people who want to enter an option agreement, or parties getting financing. It is pretty varied, but, at the end of the day, it is just mining property,” Dorreen said.
While some law schools may offer a few courses on mining, it is an area lawyers get into after they are called to the bar.
“There are some certificates you can get, and continuing professional educational courses you can take. My practice has its roots in property law so it just grew from there,” he said.
The provincial government introduced some new changes to the mining act and Dorreen said it is something everyone will have to get used to.
“Ultimately, it is designed to protect everyone, but it does create more and more hurdles to get over in the exploration phase,” he said.
For global engineering firm Exp, which has an office in Sudbury, junior miners and prospectors represent a market the company wants to grow.
“It's very much a growth market and there are a lot of people (at the symposium), so we want to express our interest,” said Don Alarie, vice-president of business development.
The company, previously called Trow, is involved in the industry, except for process work.
“We do have a very broad spectrum and mining is a particular focus,” he said. “There is still some confusion about what the name is, and some people in the mining sector don't know us so that's why we are (at the symposium).”
Alarie takes every opportunity to explain what the company is about and how it can generate solutions for mining companies at any level.
“We are the only engineering firm here (at the symposium) and it is a good opportunity for us,” he said.