A Tale of Two Conferences – 121 and Mines & Money head to head

The past couple of weeks in London have seen two major mining-oriented conferences/exhibitions which in many respects went head to head in attracting participants.  What is perhaps ironic is that the individuals who run the conference organisation for the first of these to take place – the 121 Mining Investment conference- used to be the organisers for the other – Mines & Money – until they deserted virtually en masse a few years back to set up their own conference business.  This they have built up very successfully with events in London, Hong Kong, Cape Town, New York and Singapore and have expanded conference focuses from mining to oil and gas, technology and property.

Mines & Money on the other hand has retained its mining focus and has also expanded geographically from London to Hong Kong, New York, Brisbane, Melbourne and Toronto, but is now run by Beacon Events which does have other conference streams too.

The revenue generating patterns for the two events are somewhat different.  The 121 conference generates all its income from the organisations (mostly junior mining and exploration companies) which give 10 minute presentations to mostly sparsely attended delegate sessions, but generate most interest from meetings set up at their individual display areas in a 2-day event, but with free admission to qualified delegates.  It would seem that Mines & Money might have the edge here as it provides something similar, plus has more general ‘expert’ presentation slots over 4-days, and attracts a number of service companies and national exhibits, but makes its money from attendee fees as well as exhibitor and presentation charges.  However, talking to paying participants, it appears that the 121 event had more of a buzz, perhaps better networking and, in general, the paying participants seemed happier with the overall benefits which may have accrued.

In general the 121 conference’s event facilities, were perhaps better, being held at the old County Hall on the Thames South Bank; the catering was definitely better and the printed conference programme was streets ahead of that given out at Mines & Money.  The latter held its event at the Business Design Centre in Islington as it has almost from the start (its first event some 16 years ago was at the Excel Centre much further from London’s City Centre) but at this year’s event the organisers do, on the face of things, appear to have been cutting some of the costs involved – notably on the catering front and in the printing of conference materials.

Mines & Money also has a very successful associated Awards Dinner, organised by Mining Journal, the original founder of the whole series of Mines & Money events.

So which is the better event?  Both have their strengths, but for paying participating companies we think 121 may have the edge.  The venue, close to Waterloo Station is arguably more convenient and it definitely comes out ahead on facilities and ambience as it does for the catering and printed material pertaining to the speakers and participating companies.. Mines & Money has a much broader conference programme and more ‘expert’ speakers plus the Awards dinner so there’s probably room for both although Mine & Money may have to make more of an effort in future years to retain any dominance it may still have.

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