Setting the stage
Yellowknife booth was a popular spot at Toronto conference

Cindy MacDougall
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 15/00) - Yellowknife has made its presence felt on the international mining stage.

A team of municipal and business representatives made an impression during the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference and trade show in Toronto, Ont., last week, as they shook the hands and talked the talk with mining explorers and developers.

"We aced it," said Mayor David Lovell Monday. "We've been going for six years and I think it finally culminated."

Lovell said the city's booth was packed with people interested in Yellowknife as a place to do business permanently.

"No one was asking if Yellowknife existed," he said. "People were asking what it's like to live here, do business here, what are the schools like.

"Those questions are exactly what you want."

The city's booth even made the front of the Globe and Mail's business section last week, he said.

"We are a factor now," Lovell said. "We are known as a mining industry type of place."

Ellie Sasseville, executive director of the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, said the conference -- attended by more than 10,000 people -- is essential to pushing Yellowknife as a place to invest.

"I think it's important to go because we need to be seen as out there, looking for business for Yellowknife," she said. "Going to PDAC is one way to do that."

Sasseville said the conference is also a way to boost chamber membership.

"We were in contact with businesses who do business in Yellowknife and those interested in doing business here," she said. "Many of them were interested in joining our chamber as members."

The NWT Chamber of Commerce ran a hospitality room at the trade show, inviting anyone interested in the North to drop in.

Mike Vaydik, the chamber's general manager, said some good contacts were made, but caution was the order of the day.

"I would say the mood in the exploration business was cautiously optimistic in that the (international) downturn is turning around," he said.

Some explorers and developers were nervous because of the Diavik situation, he said.

"I had more questions on Diavik than anything else," Vaydik said.

In the end, Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories need to prove three things, Vaydik said.

"You have to prove you've got the mineral potential, the cost structure for production, and the regulatory and political framework favourable towards mining," he said.

"The conference makes you very aware that we are competing against the world."