Vancouver Mining Exploration Group


The M.E.G. was formed in response to political events in 1957, when the provincial government, under the Social Credit leadership of the Honourable W.A.C. Bennett and his Minister of Mines, Ken Kiernan, decided to bring in royalty legislation and a tax on iron ore in the ground. At that time, Chris Riley, who was president of the British Columbia and Yukon Chamber of Mines, a consulting geologist, decided that a group of individuals separate from the Chamber and separate from the Mining Association of B.C. should join to fight the proposed legislation.

It was easy to form this group. During the 1950s the White Lunch on Pender and Howe was a common meeting place at lunchtime for prospectors, promoters, geologists, entrepreneurs, brokers, and anyone interested in mine exploration, development, staking rushes, stock prices or whatever. The tabletops in the back of this cafeteria were white marble and could be used to sketch out claim blocks, structural geology, terms of agreement or syndicate arrangements. They were used like blackboards. The waitress wiped them clean after each meeting. And so, the Vancouver Mining Exploration Group (M.E.G.) was born. Chris Riley was acclaimed its first chairman and weekly meetings were started, drawing about 20 people.

This group provided assistance to the Chamber and the Mining Association and as a result of these efforts, the provincial government withdrew the proposed legislation. The meetings had been so interesting that the members decided they should continue, and this forum could be used to keep all of us in exploration abreast of mining activities underway in British Columbia, and the Yukon and any place in the world.

Meeting venues were moved from the White Lunch to the old Eaton Building restaurant on the top floor, then to one of the boardrooms of the University Club and then to Chris' Grill on Granville Street. Part of the meeting time was devoted to complaining about proposed increases in the price of meals from $1.25 to $1.50 and the monotony of the fillet of sole lunches at Chris' Grill (if only they would have known the current price is $ 35 !). After several other moves, including the old YWCA gymnasium (now demolished), the Engineers Club (now defunct), the Devonshire Hotel (now demolished), the Hotel Georgia (1985-1999), the Hyatt Hotel and Four Seasons Hotel (1999-2010) ), meetings are currently held every second week between October and April at the Hyatt Hotel and the Terminal City Club.

Individual membership listings varied e.g. 1973=500; 1981=700; 1988=1100; 1992=800; 1993=1000; 1997=1150; 2001=1400. The largest attendance for the 10 to 12 meetings per season occurred in the late 1980s, coinciding with the high exploration expenditure years in Canada as a result of the flow-thru era. In particular, Samatosum drew 260 in 1987, Windy Craggy drew 280 in 1989 and Eskay Creek drew over 200 in 1990. In 2010-2011 season the average attendance for Luncheons was over 160 persons.

Between 1975 and 1991, a telephone committee of approximately 14 volunteers from mining companies notified potential attendees of M.E.G. talks and attempted to provide an estimate of the number of attendees for each meeting, to meet the hotel needs with respect to delivering a sit-down hot meal. For every number below the estimate, the M.E.G. would be charged for the meal; thus it was very important to provide a "best guess". Fortunately, the committees have been very close and we have NOT lost any significant amounts over the years. Between 1991 and 1995, the telephone committee dropped to 9 volunteers, as globalization of the industry took hold, and by 1996, the Executive decided to attempt to provide estimates on its own. Thanks to ALL of the past telephone committee volunteers!

In 1982 there was a noticeable increase in the number of individual and/or consultant listings in the M.E.G. Directory, as well as a corresponding decrease in the numbers of company personnel.

Between 1984 and 2002, Chemex Labs (now ALS Minerals ) faithfully and competently maintained the M.E.G. Directory. By 1985, the list of consultants in the Directory continued to increase. The cost of the meetings at the Hotel Georgia rose to $13. Seven out of the ten talks delivered that year were on BC properties.

In 1989, the M.E.G. published its first, coloured hard-covered Directory. Besides a complete alphabetical listing of member companies and cross-referenced listing of individual members, it included: Introduction; Editor's Message; Chairman's Message; University and Government Listings; Professional and Mining Associations Listings and Advertising. The Directory sold for $4 (raised to $5 in 1995). An abstract for each talk was made available. The importance of having 'qualified' and sometimes entertaining individuals introduce and thank the speakers was continued, as it is today. In the 1990 Directory, tables of conversion factors, formulas and constants were included. 1990 also marked a time of new interest in the international scene, especially Chile. In the 1994 Directory, an International Contact Listing was included.

In 1991, the map showing "Geo-Sites" was included on the back cover of the Directory. In 1992, total attendance at 12 talks was 1240 persons, including 164 at Kemess and 190 at Mexico.

The years between 1992 and 1994 were particularly dismal for the exploration fraternity, as a recession hit at the same time as globalization within the industry took hold and members began drifting abroad. Nonetheless, the M.E.G. continued to fulfill its traditional roles, with an obvious expansion to include an international flavour. Attendance at meetings in 1993 totaled 1,112; the price of meetings had risen to $17.

The 1995 Directory included the Cordilleran Roundup program as the centre-fold. By 1996, employment in the industry had recovered significantly as a result of the strong need for trained professionals abroad. Unfortunately the price of the M.E.G. meetings rose to $20 and is currently at $ 35 (still a bargain!).

In 1998 the M.E.G. adopted a "reservation" system for meetings, requiring people to FAX in their reservation (604-662-8956) using the available form, at least 48 hours prior to the talk (for purposes of 'guaranteeing' numbers with the hotel). The M.E.G. was very pleased to have made a donation to the international "Pathways '98" meeting, held in Vancouver in late January, 1998.

In November, 1999 the M.E.G., along with sponsorship from the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines (now Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia [AMEBC]) and the BC Geological Survey Branch, presented a very successful and affordable one-day meeting entitled "Eskay Creek-Type & Subaqueous Hot-Spring Deposits Workshop". Since the M.E.G. presented additional similar workshops entitled "Iron Oxide Copper - Gold Deposits: Separating Fact from Fantasy" (November 2000), "Exploring in the Third Millennium: Upgrading Your Toolbox with New Technologies (December 2001), Strategies and Techniques" (December 2002), "Geology and Ore Deposits: Thinking Outside the Box"(December 2003) and ""Exploration and Ore Forming Systems""(December 2004), "Magmatic Ni-Cu-Co-PGE Deposits""(December 2005) and "Silver Deposits: Geology, Genesis and Exploration Methods" (December 2007), "Guns, Crops and Steel: The Rise of Civilization and all the Commodities you never learned about" (December 2008), "From Rocks to Recovery: What Geologist need to know about Metallurgy" (December 2009), "Discovery to Feasibility -- Resource -- Now What?" (December 2010).

In 2000, the M.E.G. Directory included a good number of advertisers, thus allowing us to sell it for a very low price, and by 2002, enabling us to include it for free in the registration packages at the annual Roundup meeting in Vancouver. For 2006, 3500 copies were printed for Roundup and the PDAC - great exposure for the advertisers!

In 2001, the M.E.G. embarked on a transition for luncheon notices from a fax-based to an e-mail-based system, with the assistance of the AMEBC website. Also in 2001, the M.E.G. instituted a "student" and "under-employed" rate for the luncheon, to encourage attendance and participation. In 2003, Hunter Dickinson Inc. very kindly took over both the M.E.G. Directory listings, as well as the luncheon reservations.

With the strengthening of the mining industry globally over the past few years, the mining community based in Vancouver has rebounded to its vibrant status; the M.E.G. is proud to be part of this important resource. Since the M.E.G. was organized, I estimate that over 500 luncheons have been held. In retrospect, it is unfortunate that all of these talks were off the record; however, if we had been more formal, we might have lost the frank comments we have enjoyed. The M.E.G. has been a valuable "bulletin board" and has disseminated ideas, which have occasionally sparked staking rushes and in general furthered exploration.

The M.E.G. has maintained its informal atmosphere for 54 years now and is still going strong - thanks to ALL of the volunteers over the years, including the speakers. The venues and prices have changed, but as a lifetime member, introduced at a M.E.G. meeting, you will be welcomed anytime/anywhere! People remain the key to success and the M.E.G. still offers one of the best exploration NETWORK opportunities. The M.E.G. is thriving and encourages a strong membership support, as well as welcoming new members.

Tom Schroeter  
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