Some important upcoming precious metals conferences

One of the better ways of keeping up with with what’s going on in the precious metals sector is through attending some of the major conferences  being held around the world, and there are three such we would commend coming up in the next four to five weeks which we would consider worth attending, depending on where you are located around the world.  They can also be invaluable in creating networking opportunities - probably the reason a good proportion of delegates will attend.

The first of these is Mines & Money Hong Kong, which takes place next week.  While not specifically a precious metals event, it always has an important precious metals element within it and the forthcoming one is no exception.  It is expected to be a smaller event in terms of exhibitors this year, which is not surprising given the torrid times faced by virtually all sectors of the global mining industry.  Companies attending are mostly based in, or operating in,  the Asian and Australasian areas which tends to set it apart from European and North American events.

As usual there is an impressive array of speakers to complement the more commercial presentations from the sponsoring mining companies.   For event details click on http://www.minesandmoney.com/hongkong/ 

The next two follow shortly after Easter.  The now long established European Gold Forum takes place in Zurich on April 14th and 15th.  This is the European offshoot of what is perhaps the most impressive precious metals event of all - the Denver Gold Forum (which takes place in September)  - and is run by the Denver Gold Group whose director, Tim Wood, in a previous existence, was largely responsible for building the Cape Town Mining Indaba up to being a must attend event in Africa - and prior to that was the key driving force behind firstly, the Mineweb and  later the Resource Investor mining investment sector websites.

Again the European Gold Forum attracts some good keynote speakers and is aimed primarily at the larger and mid tier precious metals mining companies with a smattering of the better juniors thrown in.

The third forthcoming event we would recommend attending (but they are picky as to who they will let in!) is the new kid on the block - the 121 Mining Investment London conference being held in the heart of London’s financial district on April 20th and 21st.  This will be the third 121 event following a successful launch conference in Hong Kong in October last year and the equally successful similar event which ran alongside the Cape Town Mining Indaba in February this year.

The 121 team is led by former Mines and Money/Beacon Events executives and offers a rather different environment to the bog standard mining investment conference in that it is entirely aimed at bringing together miners, investors and fund managers by facilitating one on one meetings around which the conference is built.  Again while not specifically a precious metals event, precious metals companies tend to represent a significant number among the participants.

As to the conference itself, again the non-commercial presentations are largely taken up with Panel discussions pulling in some key experts in their field and opening up the forum to a more diverse range of opinions, and rather more audience participation, than can be put forward by a limited slate of key individual speakers.

For more information on this event, click on http://www.weare121.com/121mininginvestment-london/

PS - Another incentive for attending the 121 event - or maybe a disincentive - is that the Precious Metals panel discussion on the 20th at 11.30 am will be moderated by this writer and I will hope to generate some good discussion on some of the more controversial elements of today’s gold market

Cape Town Mining Indaba spawns competitive event

Is the Mining Indaba, being held early next month in Cape Town, beginning to become a victim of its own success?

Lawrie Williams

I suppose the success of a major mining conference can be assessed in part by its potential to spawn other events around it on the sidelines (or ahead and immediately after) and the big Cape Town Investing in African Mining Indaba, being held in three weeks time now, is a great example of this.  Over the around 20 years it has been existence, the Mining Indaba (www.miningindaba.com ) has grown from a small to mid-sized investment conference and exhibition to a mega event which now claims to be the world’s largest mining investment conference, although that obviously depends on exactly how you define ‘investment conference’.  Arguably Canada’s PDAC, which is far bigger in terms of attendance numbers, should carry that title, but it is both narrower (in terms of its concentration on mineral exploration) and broader in that it has been built out of an equipment/services trade show.

Nowadays the Mining Indaba attracts around 7,000 people to the annual Cape Town conference and accompanying trade show, and boasts a slate of highly regarded speakers – this year for example there will be a special keynote address from former U.K. Prime Minister, Tony Blair who may well know more about global mining issues than many realise given his involvement as an adviser to the Guinean government.  The conference programme itself is very much aimed at those companies looking at investing in mining and metals in Africa and indeed globally.

However one suspects Tony Blair’s involvement comes at a very high cost to the organisers suggesting that new Indaba owners, London-based Euromoney, are trying to pull out all the stops to counter some of the recent criticisms of the way the overall event has been progressing over the years.  Nowadays it seems to make a significant proportion of its revenue from the accompanying trade show which has very much been taken over by suppliers, many of whom have the money for big, very visual displays thus relegating mining company corporate exhibitors and African national government displays, who do not have the kinds of budgets of the big trade exhibitors and for whom the original trade show concept was developed, to an increasingly insignificant section of the exhibition.  These base exhibitors feel they are being completely overshadowed on the exhibition floor and indeed are now also unhappy about being subjected to sales pressures from delegates associated with the supplier section of the trade show.  It will be interesting to see how Euromoney handles the dilemma this poses – that of original concept against revenue.

But for several years now, the Mining Indaba has been big enough, and successful enough, to have spawned parallel events, mostly set up by brokers and financial institutions aimed at their own clients, but these don’t tend to impact on the main conference attendance – indeed may help add to it as long as the dates don’t clash.  There has also been, for the past five years or so, an ‘Alternative Mining Indaba’ in Cape Town which is mainly for NGOs, Environmentalists and their supporters but this is no threat as the relatively small number of attendees are not those who might be tempted to go to the main event anyway.

What has been a minor problem for the organisers is the seemingly ever increasing number of investors and institutional personnel from Europe and North America who descend on Cape Town to take advantage of all the networking opportunities on the periphery of the event without paying the high delegate fees ($1,900 for on site registration).  They also come to gain respite from the northern hemisphere winter weather of course.  Cape Town in February is usually a very pleasant place to be climate-wise.

But what has the potential to become more of a competitor to the Mining Indaba itself is a far smaller parallel commercial mining investment conference being launched this year by the 121 Group (www.weare121.com ) – a new event organisation, managed out of Hong Kong and London and set up by former Beacon Events/Mines & Money key personnel previously responsible for running the big, very successful, Mines & Money London and Hong Kong mining investment conferences.  With all their strong mining and mining financial sector connections they have come up with a two-day programme in a separate central Cape Town venue.  They have tied down a good number of major sponsors for their event, which clashes with the first two days of the Mining Indaba – Feb 9th and 10th – and developed a very strong speaker programme – pulling in, in several cases, some of the top speakers from the main Indaba event also – but not Tony Blair – one suspects he would be well beyond their budget!

121 says it is thus resurrecting a February Cape Town conference very much in line with the original Indaba concept for bringing mining companies into direct contact with investors and financial institutions without there being the distractions of the big supplier dominated trade show and supplier related delegates.  In their publicity 121 says what they have titled 121 Mining Investment Cape Town will be “an interactive two-day conference featuring investment strategies, market analysis and capital raising ideas, and a programme of 1-2-1 meetings matching investors with quality mining projects.”  Delegates, as at some of the other high quality mining investment conferences like the Denver and European Gold Forums, are being restricted to those meeting specific criteria deemed to be of interest to the participating mining companies.

In a note to Mineweb one of 121’s executives, Pablo Martin, said he reckons this brand new event will attract up to 100 highly focused delegates and 20 mining company speakers – maybe small in relation to the Indaba registration, but the idea is only to allow attendance from those directly interested and facilitate one-on-one meetings.  Martin comments that the format is more akin to that of the Denver Gold Group or the BMO events but it’s independent and cross commodity and allows for private companies too.  It is perhaps a small start but one which looks to have great potential for rapid growth although it seems unlikely to supplant the Mining Indaba event itself.

Meanwhile 121 Group already has two more similar mining investment events lined up.  The first of these will be in London from 20th to 21st April at a city centre location, and the second a return to Hong Kong – October 14th-15th – the location for the group’s inaugural event last year at around the same time and which has generated a whole host of favourable comment from participants.