The 2019 Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum was billed as one of the biggest and brightest in the event’s 28-year history by outgoing chairman Nick Giorgetta, and after overseeing a general mood of optimism among the 2,450 attending delegates, it can be stated confidently that Giorgetta delivered on his claim. Taking place once again in Australia’s gold capital – the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder in WA – the three-day conference coincided with a resurging confidence in the domestic mining industry, particularly in the gold sector as the Aussie gold price hit a record high of $2,207 per ounce during the event. RGN’s editor spoke to Giorgetta after the close of the 2019 event to get a deeper look at the key themes and discussion topics of what was a highly successful Diggers and Dealers.
Jacob Ambrose Willson: Nick, congratulations on another successful Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum here in Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Can you summarise the general mood of the 2019 event now that it has come to a close?
Nick Giorgetta: Thank you. The mood was very buoyant this year, with the strong gold price and the second highest attendance at Diggers on record (2,450 delegates). We also witnessed a very high standard of presentations from the junior resource companies.
JAW: What were the main points you made relating to the Australian resources sector in your opening remarks on day one of the event?
NG: The main point I wanted to get across is the enormous contribution that the resources industry makes to the Australian economy, and the importance of a strong mining sector to the nation’s wealth.
I also made the point that it is very encouraging to see the current government taking steps to reduce the red tape involved in getting mining projects up and running.
Following on from my comments last year regarding the need to have more students enrolled in mining-related courses, I wanted to highlight a couple of new initiatives in this area, and also make the point that we still have a way to go if we wish to meet the future demand for skilled mining workers.
JAW: How was the keynote address, delivered by the Hon. John Howard OM AC, received by the audience and what insights on the contemporary resources sector did the former Prime Minister offer?
NG: We received a great response from the delegates to the keynote address. Many of the delegates wanted to meet Mr Howard, and he was kind enough to walk around the marquee and speak to people and have photos taken with them.
Mr Howard used his keynote address to highlight the importance of the resources sector to the Australian economy, and his belief that our strong mining and banking sectors are some of the main reasons that Australia emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis.
He also spoke about the need to find a balance between legitimate concerns about climate change, and the desire to preserve energy supplies at affordable prices in Australia.
JAW: The Australian gold price reached highs of $2,207 per ounce during the event. What conversations were had about the current gold price and how Australian miners can benefit from the record highs of this year?
NG: There was a belief among delegates that this high gold price should be sustainable in the short-term. Gold miners are fortunate in that they can take advantage of these prices by hedging their future production and locking in these record prices.
JAW: How much attention was paid to the implementation of advanced technology across the sector by presenting companies and exhibitors throughout the conference?
NG: Almost every presentation this year mentioned new technologies. There was a lot of focus on automation and driverless vehicles, and how these can be used to achieve efficiency and improved safety.
JAW: Who were the winners of the various Forum Awards and how successful was the WesTrac gala dinner as a means of rounding off the 2019 event?
NG: The award winners were as follows:
The WesTrac gala dinner was a lovely way to round out the event, with tickets selling out early this year and 1,300 attendees present. The mood was very upbeat, with the gold price breaking through US$1,500 during the dinner.
JAW: Finally, on a personal note this is your last year as chairman of the event. How much have you enjoyed heading up Diggers and Dealers for the last five years and what can we expect from next year’s event under new chairman Jim Walker?
NG: I have very much enjoyed my five years with Diggers and Dealers. I have made new friends through my involvement with the event and have been able to catch up with old friends and colleagues at the forum each year.
I believe that Jim will make a very capable chairman. Every year with Diggers, we try to make small improvements so that the event will be a little better each year, and I’m sure that Jim will continue this.