This week saw the resources industry’s annual pilgrimage to Kalgoorlie-Boulder for Diggers & Dealers. 2,700 delegates were in attendance for the hottest ticket on the calendar.
In the unseasonably warm weather, the temperature in the marquee meant that the carefully thought out branded beanies languished on the booths, as did the famous Gold Fields socks.
The conference presentation started with a focus on critical miners, with leading British-American economist Dr. Linda Yueh presenting a keynote speech on the importance of building Australian critical minerals processing to diversify the global supply chain away from China dominance.
It wasn’t all battery metals this year, however, as gold producers reminded the audience of the fundamental role gold has to play for years to come. Stuart Tonkin reinforced that message and also garnered some attention for commenting that Northern Star – soon to be Australia’s largest domestic gold producer – would seek to monetise copper, lithium or any other minerals found on their ground.
The annual WesTrac Gala Dinner was for most a highlight, and for some an endurance event. The DJ and light show proved that rhythm really is a dancer, and the use of novelty light sabres remains the highly creative way to direct the food service for 1,300 weary diners.
With critical minerals an ongoing focus, it’s no surprise that lithium players dominated the annual awards presentation. Digger of the Year was awarded to Pilbara Minerals, whilst Dealer of the Year went to Allkem after its $16bn merger with Livent was announced earlier this year. Many of those who scarfed down a Patriot Battery Metals kebab in the early hours of Wednesday morning were delighted to see PMET take the Emerging Company Award for their lithium discovery in the James Bay region of Quebec, Canada.
M&A was a key theme for the event, with MiningNews reporting that the acquisitive Chinese major Zijin Mining had been sighted, and much was made of the attendance of Canadian Gold major B2Gold, apparently on the hunt for an Australian asset of scale. B2’s SVP Engineering and Project Evaluation, Dennis Stansbury, was in high demand as he attended various functions over the course of the three-day event.
Many small-cap gold equities remain undervalued versus the gold price, which has jumped to record highs and has a strong outlook for the precious metal through 2023 and beyond. The disconnect in valuations for the gold majors compared to the juniors presents an attractive proposition for large producers to acquire additional resources for existing mines.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the M&A focus, the lawyers were out in force, this was most noticeable upstairs on Monday evening at the Palace to find three competing houses all hosting their functions at the same time.
More so than ever before, the conference was dominated by fringe events to accommodate the insatiable demand for brokers and investors to meet with the full spectrum of industry participants, including the smaller companies who were unable to secure a presentation slot or a booth at the conference.
The wide choice of events included multiple well-attended forums for small cap explorers hosted at the local drinking establishments, the now annual Core Yard event hosted just 150m away from the main event and the Goldfields Gold Club, which saw plenty of golf played.
In line with the unseasonably high temperatures in Kal, there were also ongoing complaints about the costs associated with the conference, with ticket prices, flights and accommodation all at a premium. This might be why a certain PR company MD (who will remain anonymous) was (over)charged a ridiculous $130 for a three minute taxi ride from the Palace Hotel to Hannans…..
White Noise communications is provided a fee for service working with companies which may have exposure to commodities or securities mentioned in these articles. All articles are the opinion of the author and are not endorsed by, or written in collaboration with, our clients.