Now in its 12th year, Mines and Money London is Europe’s leading mining investment and capital raising conference and exhibition. It attracts more than 3,000 investors, financiers, brokers and mining executives from 75 countries around the world and showcases more than 200 mining companies. In addition to providing excellent networking opportunities, it also offers inspiration and knowledge-building in the form of keynotes, market analysis, company presentations, panels and workshops.
Mines have a history of attracting money, and money a history of seeking out mines. But in the past year, it seemed the two found it far more difficult to find each other. Opinion polls have found that miners both large and small found 2014 a challenging year for securing funds, managing funds and reaping back funds from past investments. Given this, you might expect that the annual Mines and Money event would have suffered; but if anything, the sombre backdrop served to lend extra vigour and optimism to the event’s attendees and speakers. “We know that it is at the bottom of the market where the best opportunities lie,” said the event’s Global Head of Content and Production Andrew Thake. And that sentiment seemed shared by everyone at the event.
Monday and Tuesday
The five-day event began on Monday with the ‘Around the World Mining Investment Day’, comprising country-focused presentations from every continent. Particular focus was given to Australia and Canada, and other highlights included panel discussions on global investment opportunities in the mining industry and, specifically, opportunities in the diamonds and precious stones market. Frank Holmes, CEO and CIO of US Global Investors, presented a keynote address on royalties, ETFs and private equity, and Dr Joanne Warner, Head of Global Resources at First Estate, presented another in which she identified catalysts in mining for recovery and growth.
The main conference and exhibition launched on Tuesday with a keynote address from Peter Boockvar, Chief Market Analyst with The Lindsey Group, looking at where the global economy is heading five years after the Global Financial Crisis. Other highlights included a keynote address from Robert Friedland, giving an update on his company Ivanhoe Mines’ latest projects; and a ‘Fireside Chat’ with Ross Beaty from Pan American Silver Corp, one of the world’s largest silver producers, entitled ‘The Broken Slot Machine’.
Wednesday yielded keynote addresses from the esteemed Mark Bristow of Randgold Resources and Peter Grosskopf of Sprott Inc. A morning panel discussion considered whether the current investment climate is the ‘new normal’ and what it means for the mining industry, and the afternoon began with 10 ‘Meet the Investor’ roundtables. RGN columnist Chris Berry launched a series of talks on base, bulk and industrial minerals, and gave his own presentation of assessing and evaluating the latest breakthroughs in speciality metals. Commenting on the event itself, he observed: “Despite the doldrums in the mining space, the interest is still clearly evident.”
One of the best-attended talks of the day was ‘Analyst outlook: From A to Z – key market themes and investment climate’, presented by Paul Robinson of CRU. No doubt ruffling a few feathers, Paul recommended investing in zinc, nickel and palladium and advised against investing in the traditional stalwarts of gold, silver and iron ore. Prices for the latter will only return to equilibrium after five years, he said, and copper will reach surplus in 2016. In contrast, zinc has moved into structural deficit and CRU expects concentrate and metal inventories to decline at an increasing pace over the next three years, which will push the price up. Regarding China, Paul said the country will continue to be resource constrained; its production costs rising faster than in other countries, while its environmental issues escalate. He closed his presentation with a recommendation that listeners took a position on these environmental issues, as well as on resource nationalism.
Wednesday was brought to a glamorous end by a Champagne Diamond Reception hosted by Women in Mining, in which a Rio Tinto diamond was raffled off to one lucky winner: Tom Yingling from Arctic Star Exploration Corp.
The main conference and exhibition was wrapped up on Thursday with a programme focused on innovations in mining investment and finance, as well as the ability for mining to benefit the local communities and areas it impacts. Tom Albanese, CEO of Vendanta Resources and former CEO of Rio Tinto, contributed to a discussion on gender diversity in mining boards and Clem Sunter, former Chairman and CEO of the Gold & Uranium Division for Anglo American, delivered a special address on the mining ‘megatrends’ of the 21st Century.
Thursday ended with the prestigious Mining Journal Outstanding Achievement Awards dinner, held at The Ballroom Marquee on the City of London’s Southbank. This recognised a number of select people, companies and even a country for their achievements in 2014 (see box for the winners). Australian Rugby Union Legend Nick Farr-Jones spoke at the event, and the judging panel was made up of Mike Price, Advisor, RCF; Mark Wellesley Wood, ex-Chairman, DRD Gold; Ian Henderson, ex-Fund Manager, JP Morgan Asset Management; Mark Bristow, CEO, Randgold Resources; and Richard Roberts, Editor, Mining Journal.
Speaking after the event, awards judge and mining veteran Mark Bristow said he was “delighted” to support the awards and commented: “Each year, the Mining Journal Outstanding Achievement Awards provide an important opportunity to recognise the men and women who play a role in making our industry the fascinating and varied institution it is – from running high-risk exploration projects to the companies who make deals and deliver opportunities for countries and investors alike.”
Another successful year
After the event, RGN caught up with Andrew Thake, Global Head of Content and Production for Mines & Money, to ask him how he thought it went.
“Feedback we have received from sponsors, exhibitors and delegates has been extremely positive,” he said. “Delegates packed out the exhibition aisles, networking functions and conference rooms throughout the week. Despite challenging market conditions for miners and investors like, Mines and Money London yet again delivered a forum where management teams of quality mining projects can access hundreds of resourced-focused investors, source capital and make deals.
“As an educational forum it delivered insights and advice from industry leaders so delegates can position themselves correctly moving forward into 2015 and beyond. It once again proved its crucial importance on the calendar of several thousand senior mining financiers and developers.”
We asked whether the “challenging market conditions” he mentioned had seemed to affect the mood of participants, or to weigh upon the event’s atmosphere in any way. Andrew said that, to the contrary, delegates had maintained an optimistic outlook on the future.
“It’s tough out there for many, but we’ve seen a process of the industry accepting and adjusting to a ‘new normal’ in the current climate,” he adds. “The market will come back and it’s the people who position themselves in the right way now that will benefit the most when it does. Our delegate audience are those people so because of that, optimism – with a sense of realism – prevailed during the week.”
Andrew said that the event had many highlights for him. One was seeing “packed exhibition aisles, with companies mixing with investors and other delegates,” throughout the week, showing that the event was truly functioning as a deal-making forum. Within the programme, his standout presentations were those from Blackrock’s Catherine Raw and Evy Hambro, Randgold Resources’ Mark Bristow and Pan America Silver’s Ross Beaty, whose ‘fireside chat’ Andrew said was “fascinating”. He also praised the “valuable” market insight on M&A and financing trends provided by EY, Standard Bank, Nedbank and others.
“The investor roundtables again provided a valuable opportunity where delegates could discuss specific subjects in an intimate environment,” he adds. “And the online meeting planner made it convenient for delegates to organise their meetings and create deal making opportunities with each other.”
He was also very pleased with how the evening events went – their offerings of champagne, canapés and glamour unsurprisingly attracting hundreds of people.
“The Mining Journal Outstanding Achievement Awards drew 800 attendees to honour excellence displayed throughout the industry and was a glittering way to close out the main programme of events,” said Andrew. “Also on the social front, the Women in Mining Champagne Reception on Wednesday was excellent.”
Incredibly, Andrew and the rest of the Mines & Money team are already planning the next event – they began on the next working day after Mines & Money London 2014 finished. They are busy gathering feedback on the concluded event in order to make Mines and Money London 2015 even better.
“But in the more immediate future, our team is busy preparing for our Hong Kong event in late March,” he added. “We expect to see the success of London replicated in Hong Kong and current indications on registrations are that will be the case. We’ve assembled a really strong speaker line-up for our eight event in Hong Kong and have increased our focus on delivering a more Pan-Asian programme and delegate audience.”
Evidently the Mines & Money juggernaut just does not stop. Mines and Money Hong Kong will be held between the 23rd and 27th of March next year; it will be interesting to see how the mood in Asia compares with the cautious optimism we saw here in London.