"All of our indicators are positive and pointing towards a rising tide for the industry. Prices for the major commodities have been on the rise since the beginning of the year, which is a positive sign for us going into the convention," she told Mining Journal.
She said the association was encouraged by the recent wave of mergers in the gold sector, such as that of Barrick Gold and Randgold Resources, and Newmont Mining Corp and Goldcorp.
"I'm it sure will provide for a lot of the talk on the exhibition floors and in the presentation halls. The topic of mergers and acquisitions will certainly be front-of-mind for most attendees, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out over the near and longer term."
McDonald, who was installed as the PDAC's new executive director in December, said a significant effort went into compiling the programming for this year's event. The organising committee endeavoured to provide something for everyone, covering a diverse variety of topic streams.
This year, the spotlight falls on the next generation of mining professionals and investors.
"Our keynote presentation by Charlene Duffett of Carleton University in Ottawa will focus on millennials and mining. It will aim to explore how millennials with their tech-savviness and connectivity will impact on mining."
In particular, Duffett will explore how miners will have to respond to the generation's improved technology and social media use, their demands for gender equality and equal pay for equal work and improved Indigenous engagement and relations.
The planning committee has put together a suite of programmes targeting the younger generation, spanning the technical, sustainability, capital markets, Aboriginal, and student and new graduates programmes.
"These dovetail with the concepts of innovation and technology, which form a major component of the event," she said.
"This is covered-off in our technical programme which has a technology-metals section, as well as a section on responsibly sourced minerals. The capital markets programme will build on the technical sessions and look at the electrification revolution."
The Aboriginal programme alone is expected to attract more than 550 self-identified Indigenous people to four sessions over two days.
"These are topics that are crosscutting all the perspectives we try to represent at the convention," McDonald said.
Careful not to tip her hand, McDonald said all indicators were pointing towards at least a similar number of attendees and exhibitors attending the 2019 event as last year's 25,606 from 135 countries, "if not some more".
She said a convention of PDAC's size and volume had about an 18-month planning cycle, which meant planning had already started for the 2020 convention.
"PDAC, as an organisation, is more than just a convention. While we are best known for our convention, we are the voice of the mineral exploration sector of Canada the other 360 days of the year. The convention gives us the opportunity to showcase that work," McDonald said.
The next PDAC convention will be held March 3-6 in Toronto.