Alex Letourneau of Kitco News interviews Brent Cook of Exploration Insights, Alex Davidson of Yamana Gold, Catherine McLeod-Seltzer of Bear Creek Mining and Lowell Copper, and Miles Thompson of Reservoir Minerals and Lara Exploration, at last week’s PDAC convention in Toronto.

This is an impressive gathering of credible exploration and mining industry figures.

McLeod Seltzer, the Bear Creek Chairman and Lowell Copper Director, seemed to give a nod to friends as she suggested that smart retail investors are seeing contrarian, long term potential in this sector. Mining cycles are quite simple, McLeod Seltzer believes: Sell when you can maximize value. That time will come over the next few years. Staying power is key for companies in the current environment, the accomplished executive said.

Miles Thompson, Chairman and CEO of Lara Exploration, impressed me. Thompson said higher grade, deeper mining projects with a smaller visual and physical footprint, could be the future of the industry. He complained that mining is a long term business, while financiers come and go on a daily basis; the trick for exploration companies is to build a sustainable business. Thompson said retail investors don’t trust the mining industry anymore, but good companies are finding finance institutionally. He thinks the recent rebound in junior mining equities will be sustained and “go up from here over the next few years.”

Brent Cook, Editor of Exploration Insights, said good quality discoveries are very hard to come by. He thinks a real increase in metals prices will be needed to justify the next cycle of mining projects, especially in the gold sector, if current production levels are to be sustained.

Alex Davidson, a veteran explorationist with Barrick Gold and later Yamana Gold, said he hasn’t got a clue if the bear market in mining and exploration stocks is over. He was however optimistic the industry will find potential in new areas.

“The term peak discovery is silly,” Davidson said.