Every year, resources companies need to think about their marketing budgets for the year and how they will use shareholder funds to promote the company in the hope of attracting new investors. The budget includes conferences, roadshows, advertising and social media. Unconstrained, this can add up to a lot of money over the year.
Of course, we don’t work in an unconstrained environment and for many, budgets have been pared following the past few months of ASX price action.
On the conference circuit, there is an ever-increasing choice of events at which one can present, both in Australia and globally. These come at a variety of price points as well as size and type of audience.
With conferences nearly held year-round, the circuit kicked off this week with the Mining Indaba and 121 conferences in Cape Town. Following on the heels of this event will be the RIU Explorers Conference next week in Fremantle, MiningNews Select in Sydney and the PDAC conference in Toronto.
The 121 Cape Town conference started out in 2015 as a bit of guerilla marketing on the back of the successful and well-established Mining Indaba conference. Since then, the two events have come together under the same umbrella, although operated as distinctly different events.
As ‘destination’ conferences, 121 and Indaba attract a global audience with big representation from Australia, UK, European, Canadian and African delegates. With no local office for delegates to duck back to through the day, investors are generally better engaged than conferences in the major capital cities like London or Sydney.
This year, 104 companies presented to over 700 investors over the two days of the 121 conference in the form of speed dating, with preorganised 30-minute meetings filling the schedule. Presenting companies noted a stronger interest this time around, with many having 20+ meetings locked in over the two days.
Down the hill, the big brother Mining Indaba conference continued its status as one of the largest mining conferences globally. 8,000+ delegates braved massive queues to hear from companies, large and small, as well as hearing from a range of African mines ministers, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The exhibition booths at Indaba opened at midday Monday, with humungous and expensive two storey structures becoming the norm as suppliers and large miners try to outdo each other.
So, what were investors generally upbeat about at the conference?
Uranium companies had a very good reception, along with gold and rare earths, not to anyone’s surprise. Nickel and lithium companies faced more difficult investor conversations; however the general feeling was that the tide would turn (at some point).
At a 121 panel session on debt financing, the mood was generally positive, although Nick Farr-Jones from Taurus Funds Management noted the decline in fortunes for juniors and pointed out that Taurus’ recent tie up with Regal Funds Management means they can offer equity as well as debt.
In the same session, Corey Posesorski from Sprott Resource Lending recommended that investors and debt providers look at the real risks on the ground, rather than perceived risks, as they aren’t generally the same.
The after-hours networking sessions once again were in full force with VSA Capital, BMO, TMB, Caterpillar and Canaccord hosting events throughout the event. Dinner bookings at the Waterfront are a must at this time of year unless you want to wait over an hour for a table.
As Cape Town winds down and the pilgrims make the long trek home, the conference juggernaut continues rolling forward, with the organisers at the RIU Explorers conference next week finding innovative ways to fill the space to good effect. As one of the most popular resources conferences in Perth, let’s hope the sentiment is as buoyant as the registration numbers.
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