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 $50!). 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 (1999-2000), the Four Seasons Hotel (2001). Between 2002 and 2016, meetings were held every second week between October and April at the Hyatt Hotel. Since 2012, occasional meetings were also held at the Terminal City Club. In 2016, the Terminal City Club became the meeting venue.
In leafing through M.E.G. Directories for the years 1973 to 2018, the following list gives some indication of the numbers of employees and mining companies which have participated over the years to make the M.E.G. what it is today [Note: maximum number of technical employees = (..); year = [..]]:
Abermin (9), ['87]; Amax/Canamax (14), ['80]; Amoco/Cyprus (5), ['73]; Anaconda (11), ['80]; Anglo American (7) ['16]; Archer Cathro (12), ['89]; Asamera (3), ['78]; Asarco (7), ['73]; Ashton (5), ['01]; Atna (7), ['01]; Beaty Geol. (8), ['88]; Bema (14), ['81]; Bethlehem/E+B/Mascot Gold/Corona (9), ['80]; BHP Billiton (> 25), ['01]; Billiton (1) ['82]; BP (16), ['84]; Brinco (5), ['84]; Canadian Superior (11), ['75]; Chevron Standard (12), ['82]; City Res. (5), ['87]; Cities Services (8), ['76]; Cogema (1), ['90]; Cominco (65), ['80]; Cordilleran Engineering (11), ['81]; Cyprus Anvil (12), ['81]; Dupont of Canada (8), ['82]; Duval (5), ['75]; Dynasty (7), ['75]; Echo Bay (5), ['89]; El Paso (5), ['73]; Equity Engineering (7), ['01]; Esso/Imperial Oil (15), ['87]; Falconbridge (8), ['74]; Fox Geological (7), ['89]; Freeport-McMoran (6), ['89]; Getty Mines (7), ['82]; Granby (7), ['73]; Granges (4), ['74]; Hecla (5), ['73]; Homestake (21), ['90]; Hudson Bay Expl'n and Dev. (6), ['74]; (11), ['01]; Hudson Bay Oil and Gas (7), ['73]; Hunter Dickinson (13), ['01]; Imperial Metals (11), ['89]; Inco (8), ['91]; Independence Gold (5) ['16]; J.C. Stephen (3), ['81]; Kaiser Expl'n (70, ['74]; Kennecott Canada (17), ['96]; Kerr Addison (18), ['85]; Kidd Creek/ TexasGulf (8), ['84]; Lac Minerals (4), ['84]; McIntyre (5), ['74]; Minequest (5), ['92]; Minnova/Inmet (10), ['92]; Nevin, Sadlier-Brown (9), ['79]; Newconex (3), ['73]; Newmont (12), ['81]; Noranda (24), ['85]; Northair (5), ['85]; Orequest (7), ['90]; Pamicon (7), ['01]; Pechiney (3), ['73]; Phelps Dodge (4), ['73]; Placer Dome (30), ['85]; Preussag (4), ['76]; Prism (7), ['84]; Quintana (6), ['74]; Rio Tinto/Algom (12), ['84]; Sabina (9) ['16]; Serem/Cheni (10), ['80]; Silver Standard (6), ['74]; Stokes Expl'n (5), ['78]; Sumitomo (6), ['73]; Teck (18), ['90]; Total Erickson (9), ['87]; Union Carbide (12), ['80]; UMEX (7), ['75]; Utah/BHP (13), ['80]; Welcome North (6), ['84]; Western Mines/Westmin (15), ['88]. PLUS...a) consulting companies, b) engineering and service companies, c) drilling companies, d) brokerage houses, e) banks, f) analytical labs, g) helicopter companies, and h) several Japanese companies. Quite a "Who's Who" list!
Individual membership listings varied e.g. 1973=500; 1981=700; 1988=1100; 1992=800; 1993=1000; 1997=1150; 2001=1400; 2016=750. 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.
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 were very close and we did NOT lose 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 totalled 1112; 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.
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 an important 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". The M.E.G. presented additional similar workshops entitled "Iron Oxide Copper - Gold Deposits: Separating Fact from Fantasy" (Nov. 2000), "Exploring in the Third Millennium: Upgrading Your Toolbox with New Technologies, Strategies and Techniques" (Dec. 2001), "Geology and Ore Deposits: Thinking Outside the Box" (Dec. 2002), ""Exploration and Ore Forming Systems" (Dec. 2003), "Magmatic Ni-Cu-Co-PGE Deposits" (Nov. 2005), "Silver Deposits: Geology, Genesis and Exploration Methods" (Dec. 2006), "Gold Deposits -- Exploration and Economics'' (Dec. 2007), "Guns, Crops and Steel: the rise of civilization and all the commodities you never learned about" (Dec. 2008), "From Rocks to Metal: What Geologists need to know about Metallurgy" (Dec. 2009) and "Resource, Now What? -- Making the Transition from Exploration to Development" (Dec. 2010), "White Hot Yukon -- Rocks and Beyond" (Dec. 2011), "Mexico: Emerging Trends in Established Mining Districts"(Dec. 2012) and "Ore Deposits of Nevada -- more than just the Carlin Trend" (Dec. 2013), "Porphyry Deposits in Northwestern British Columbia" (Dec. 2014), "Precious Metal Deposits of the Northern Cordillera" (Dec. 2015), "Advances in Exploration Methods" (Dec. 2016), "B.C.'s Golden Triangle (Dec. 2017) and "Structural Geology of Deposits of the Western Cordillera" (Dec. 2019).
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 2007, 3500 copies were printed for Roundup and the PDAC - great exposure for the advertisers! Between 2015 and 2018, 1300 copies were printed annually. In 2019, a printed copy of the annual M.E.G. Directory was discontinued (see: www.vancouvermeg.com).
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 (still in use today) for the luncheon, to encourage attendance and participation.
From 2003-2014, Hunter Dickinson Inc. very kindly took over both the M.E.G. Directory listings, as well as the luncheon reservations (rose as high as $50, with reduced costs for underemployed individuals and students). Between 2015 and 2017, OceanaGold looked after these items. Since 2018, IMDEX Limited is looking after the reservations. Since 2009, the M.E.G.'s individual website has been designed and powered by Adnet Communications. In 2018, the M.E.G. introduced "Mix and Mingle" talks at 3:30 pm to compliment the regular luncheon talks; both are held at the Terminal City Club. Reservations for M.E.G. talks and workshops can now be made online, including assistance from Evenbrite since 2015. In 2019, the M.E.G. established a Student Engagement Committee, whereby the M.E.G. sponsors students to attend talks. For information on past and upcoming M.E.G. events, contact: http://www.vancouvermeg.com
The mining industry has suffered through some very difficult economic and market conditions between 2007 and 2009, and most recently between 2012 and 2016. This has had a profound effect on the junior exploration sector. Nonetheless, the mining community based in Vancouver remains a resilient and essential component to the provincial economy; the M.E.G. is proud to be part of this important resource.
Since the M.E.G. was organized, I estimate that over 700 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 62 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.