The Northern Ontario Mining Showcase has evolved to the point where it's become a mini-trade show within the international mining industry's largest convention.
The Temiskaming Shores-led pavilion has 100 Northern Ontario companies and organizations signed up to attend the annual Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) mining convention, March 4-7, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto.
That's up from the 92 exhibitors who displayed at the 2017 event.
"We've been full (with registrants) for months," said Marla Tremblay, now in her fifth year of organizing the regional pavilion.
The showcase has quickly grown to become the largest of the pavilions at PDAC.
Tremblay estimated more than 10,000 people strolled through their 9,600-square-foot space in the North Hall of the convention centre last year.
"It's pretty cool. It's an international show and Northern Ontario has the biggest presence," she said.
The intent of the Northern pavilion is to give small and medium-sized mining suppliers affordable access and international exposure to display their wares and make deals.
For an exhibitor's fee of $500, companies and organizations get a 10-by-10-foot fully wired kiosk.
FedNor is paying the bulk of the costs this year for the pavilion's setup with $535,000.
Tremblay said about 25 per cent of this year's registrants are exhibiting at PDAC for the first time.
"The goal is really to get these businesses to a point where they see the value and say OK let's get a big booth outside of the pavilion and to rotate them through. You don't want the same people. You want to give an opportunity to different people as well."
The pavilion is not for large mining suppliers of more than 500 employees who usually have the budget to buy a booth on the trade show floor.
"We're trying to help people who can't get there," she said.
Tremblay said the showcase review committee is pretty selective about the quality of the companies they allow in.
"The objective is to have suppliers that really do supply the min ing industry," she said, whether they be exploration, mine construction, rehabilitation, or in the operational field. "We get a lot of applications from people that aren't a fit."
Companies or organizations must be headquartered in Northern Ontario and must be involved in some aspect of the industry.
But the door is always open to companies working in other sectors, like forestry, that may have skills transferrable to mining.