Mines and Money Online Connect cemented its status as the premier digital conferencing platform for the mining sector after its three-day December event welcomed 3,675 attendees from 119 different countries.
After delivering a series of hugely successful online events earlier in the year following the COVID-19 outbreak, Mines and Money attracted a record number of attendees, with 471 active investors among them – a 30% rise on its inaugural global event in September.
The latest Online Connect featured 89 expert speakers from across the global mining sector, project updates from 120 mining and energy companies, keynote panel discussions, mining pitch battles and Mines and Money’s ever popular 5@5 video sessions. Each attendee’s own unique portal for interacting with potential business partners was also open 24 hours a day over the duration of the event.
Mining pitch battles
Mines and Money’s highly competitive mining pitch battles once again proved to be one of the most entertaining offerings on the agenda, with a series of commodity-based heats taking place throughout the week.
The contest pits a selection of executives from junior mining companies against one another in a series of corporate updates presented in front of a ‘dragon’s den’ of investor judges and the live Online Connect audience.
On day one, a gold and precious metals heat took place, with four global companies – Cassiar Gold, Cabral Gold, Banyan Gold and Silver Tiger Metals – competing for a hypothetical $1 million investment handed out by the judges.
After each company presenter was suitably grilled by the investor panel, Cabral Gold CEO Alan Carter was voted the winner of the first pitch battle. Day two brought the battery metals round, which was contested by FPX Nickel, Nouveau Monde Graphite and Strategic Resources. Nouveau Monde came out on top after a tight contest. Finally, day three saw White Gold Corp CEO David D’Onofrio triumph in the second gold and precious metals pitch battle.
Mines and Money was pleased to host a keynote session from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on day one of Online Connect. Vice Minister for Mining Affairs & Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Mudaifer delivered a detailed presentation on the Kingdom’s plans to transform the mining sector.
“Saudi Arabia now offers mining investment opportunities supported by promising geological prospects, enhanced access to data and robust regulations. Together we can build a world class mining sector based on strategic partnerships and a strong mutual benefit,” he said.
Another keynote ‘fireside chat’ took place on day two between Electrum Group CEO Dr Thomas Kaplan and Kitco editor Neils Christensen. The two discussed the current gold market in depth during a 20-minute session.
“There are so many reasons to buy gold, it’s almost like a buffet, said Kaplan. “When gold pops and goes over US$2,000 per ounce, that’s when the big money will come in and you’ll see 10-fold multiplication in some gold equities.”
A number of keynote panels took place throughout the show, with two of the most interesting expert discussions taking place on day three. First, a four-person team took on the loaded topic of geopolitics and its impact on commodity demand.
Triple Flag Mining Finance founder and CEO Shaun Usmar shared his lucid thoughts on the influence of geopolitics in the energy metals space: “Metals are now energy. And one thing we know is that energy is political,” he declared. “To control your energy supply chain is one of the great games nations and statehoods play in projecting regional and international power.
“In the uncertain and volatile environment of 2020, we are seeing governments attempting to replicate China’s model of state capitalism, particularly in the strategic minerals space, which China has dominated for some time.”
Later in the day, another high calibre panel considered the likelihood of an explosion of M&A deals in the mining sector next year, following a bottleneck caused by COVID-19 in 2020.“I think we have seen a real bottleneck this year,” said Denham Capital Management director Justin Machin.
“In mining when you invest hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, the principals of the business like to get on the ground and see the assets before they buy them. That hasn’t been able to happen for most of this year. I’m expecting as things open up in 2021, we’ll see some of these deals that have been building in the background start to get launched.”
Mines and Money has been running its weekly 5@5 sessions – five industry experts at 5pm – since just after the world went into lockdown in March, and it would’ve been remiss of the organisers not to include the popular webcam-based series within the agenda.
The interactive meetings have helped the global mining sector stay connected during this unprecedented period of restrictions on travel and large-scale gatherings throughout 2020. In particular, the sessions have proved effective in providing a platform for mining firms to communicate their latest updates to the investment sector during the current situation.
The first 5@5 of Online Connect was hosted by RK Equity and featured a range of companies from the battery metals sector, including European Metals Holdings, Savannah Resources and First Cobalt Corp.
RK Equity’s Howard Klein struck on optimistic chord when discussing the global lithium market, which has suffered with depressed prices since the giddy highs of early 2018.“Overall sentiment in the lithium sector has greatly improved, largely driven by Europe,” he proclaimed.
“Europe is the new China in the sector. Lithium 3.0 started over the summer, when we had a number of companies rerated.” These sentiments on Europe’s emergence as the new dominant hub for the lithium market were echoed by Keith Coughlan and David Archer of European Metals and Savannah Resources respectively.
“Europe is now the largest producer of EVs in the world but has no current production of battery grade lithium. With the emphasis on developing local supply chains, we have a lot of catching up to do,“ said Coughlan.
Meanwhile, Savannah CEO Archer said: “We believe this part of the Portugal will become a leading lithium producing region in Europe.” The company is developing a spodumene lithium project in Northern Portugal.
The next 5@5 was hosted by IBK Capital and featured three of their portfolio companies: Canada Nickel Company, New Age Metals and SPC Nickel. IBK president and CEO Mark White revealed that the investment firm helped Canada Nickel go public last year and is helping SPC’s IPO process.
Later in the show, New Age Metals CEO Harry Barr told the audience about the company’s 100% owned undeveloped primary palladium deposits in North America and its lithium division in Manitoba, Canada. “Both contain excellent exploration prospects,” said Barr.
The final 5@5 on day three featured another smattering of exciting company presentations and subsequent analysis by leading mining investors, including Synergy Resource Capital managing director Paola Rojas. Visit Mines and Money’s YouTube page to view all the episodes in full.
Another great show concludes
Once again, Mines and Money delivered a seamless package of edifying content over the course of the December edition of Online Connect. Away from the presentations and discussions on the live feed, 2,539 video meetings took place over the three days – a 15.5% rise on the preceding show.
RGN would like to thank the Mines and Money team for filling the void left by the cancellation of its usual calendar of physical conferences around the world, not just in December, but throughout this most unusual year.
The next Online Connect will take place from January 27-29 and will be the first show to concentrate on a single commodity class. Please go to the events pages of this issue to register for Mines and Money’s precious metals-focused digital event.