Black Press file photo
Back; Bill Hickman and Victor Maskulak, front, Debbie Oviatt, Minerals North president Andrew Webber and Ron Burnett. This meet-up to sign the deal for the 2021 Minerals North Conference in Kitimat happened in early 2020, but has been put on hold for 2021 due to the pandemic.

Black Press file photo Back; Bill Hickman and Victor Maskulak, front, Debbie Oviatt, Minerals North president Andrew Webber and Ron Burnett. This meet-up to sign the deal for the 2021 Minerals North Conference in Kitimat happened in early 2020, but has been put on hold for 2021 due to the pandemic.

Quesnel still hoping to host Minerals North Conference

The city said they’d be willing to host in 2022 when COVID-19 dies down

The Minerals North Conference that was set to be held in Kitimat this May has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and likely won’t be held this year, Minerals North Conference Association president Andrew Webber said.

Kitimat was awarded the 2021 conference in 2019, but Webber said with COVID restrictions still in place, it doesn’t seem like things will be ready in time for the conference in May.

“The best way to explain it is like, everything’s on hold,” Webber said. “We were to be in Quesnel last spring and were forced to cancel and now, we anticipated being in Kitimat this spring, and certainly have postponed.”

Webber said they aren’t looking to do a virtual conference as the in-person aspect is one of the key features of the conference.

“One of the things about Minerals North is we like to go to communities across the North — we actually want to go there. And now is not the time for in-person meetings,” he said. “So we haven’t really considered going virtual as Minerals North, certainly not for the short-term; not for this year will we go virtual for Minerals North. We’d rather be in a location where they can showcase their capabilities.

Webber said Kitimat was chosen due to the variety of industries, even if it’s not strictly a mining town itself.

“Kitimat’s a good example of why we like to move it around because they may not perceive themselves as a mining town — many Northern B.C. towns don’t — and then you start feeling out, oh, you know, well, we’ve got some port potential…some industrial services there that, you know, built up around Alcan, and now oil and gas that are easily transferable to the minerals sector. So it just alerts people to whole other resource centre of opportunities.”

Webber said that, going forward, they’re not really sure at this point how things are going to run, or when and if they’re going to run. However, he added that if Kitimat or Quesnel, who was supposed to hold the 2020 conference, are interested in hosting once things are back up and running, they would definitely look to those two towns to see what could be done.

“I think we’re just in kind of a ‘wait and see’ mode. And at some point, if Kitimat or Quesnel were prepared to host, then we would look at how to arrange that,” he said. “However, it’s also possible that we may have to hold Minerals North in some other fashion to kind of get the brand re-established, and then start travelling again.”

Mayor Phil Germuth said Kitimat would absolutely be interested in hosting should the opportunity arise.

“It is tough to think about hosting events as we continue to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. However, I do think our community would be a wonderful host for the Minerals North conference once things have normalized and hosting larger events is once again a safe and common practice,” he said. “Kitimat is a warm, welcoming community with an abundance to offer potential guests, so we are more than happy to showcase our community if it can be done in a safe manner.”

The City of Quesnel responded, saying they, too, would be interested in hosting when things are back up and running in the future.

“The City of Quesnel looks forward to hosing a future Minerals North conference. Should a decision be made to go forward with an in-person event in 2022, the City of Quesnel would be happy to work with the Minerals North organization to host a safe, successful event,” a statement from the city said.

Webber said they’re still working things out on their end, and that they encourage people to check out other virtual mining and industry events happening in the coming months, such as the Smithers Exploration Group’s ‘Rock Talk’ happening in February.

“I think it’s unlikely that there will be a Minerals North Conference in 2021. Not impossible, but unlikely,” Webber said. “And other than that, I think it’s just, stay tuned!”

READ MORE: PeeWee Provincials and Coy Cup cancelled in Quesnel due to COVID-19 pandemic

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