Northern prospectors look to brighten their visibility: Tough times in grassroots exploration prompt Ontario Prospectors Association to boost its image as lobby group.

AuthorRoss, Ian

Gold and palladium prices are reaching lofty heights but there continue to be troubling signs on the grassroots side of Ontario's mining industry.

Garry Clark, executive director of the Ontario Prospectors Association (OPA), said the mining sequence of discovery and development is faltering right now.

Since the economic crash , of 2008, investor interest in early-stage exploration has largely been in the dumper, despite the uptick in value of various mineral commodities.

"Grassroots exploration isn't happening as much as it should," said Clark.

Part of the problem, he said, has been competition for investor attention from other high-risk, high-reward ventures such as Bitcoin, Blockchain and marijuana stocks.

The OPA has been pushing the government for more incentives to stimulate the exploration side of a $10-billion industry and spotlight the province as one of the world's best mining jurisdictions.

The conditions are prompting the OPA to make internal structural changes.

Besides the cosmetic rebranding, the intent to become more of an effective lobby group to better represent its 700 members at Queen's Park, and be more visible to the general public, who have little idea on what the grassroots stage of the industry actually does.

One item under consideration is the appointment of a full-time president and CEO.

Since being handed the OPA's reins in 2001, Clark has handled the duties on an ad-hoc basis out of his geological consulting firm's office in Thunder Bay.

"We want to try and change the focus, as not just prospectors but try and capture the junior companies.

We do that fairly well, but 1 don't think that's overly reflected to the junior companies.

The Ontario Mining Association represents operating mines in the province, leaving the OPA to be the voice of a critical bridge between exploration and production.

Junior mining companies, Clark pointed out, do the bulk of the industry's heavy lifting in conducting the due diligence and in-depth exploration to push deposits down the development pipeline into operating mines.

The OPA is also waging a campaign to convince the Ford government to increase the provincial flow-through share tax credit to help fuel exploration.

Flow-through shares have historically been the exploration in- * dustry's lifeline during commodity downcycles.

The exploration community is circulating an online petition to boost the credit from 5 per cent to 25 per cent to put Ontario on a competitive plain with other...

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