This week’s been a busy one for London’s mining investment community. There was the Mining 121 Conference in Fenchurch Street in the first half of the week, and the Mining Capital Event on Thursday, at which nine companies and one private equity speaker lined up to speak to a packed house.
Underlying it all was Mines & Money, London’s biggest ticket mining event - at least for now - which seemed to go off pretty smoothly.
To be sure, it wasn’t as bubbling and vibrant as it was in days of yore, when the last mining boom was in full swing and Mines & Money was a factor in everybody’s December calendar and newsflow.
But this year there was at least a feeling that Mines & Money is beginning to recover its poise and work out how to make its way in this new mining world of ours, where booms no longer seem to run in tandem in different parts of the world.
Over in Australia, as many of the Aussie delegates in London were only too willing to testify, there is a strong feeling that a fully-fledged mining boom is well underway and indeed that it might be more than half way through.
Talk to the delegates with more local roots, however, or the ones that had flown over from Canada, and the mood is strikingly different. Yes, there is a feeling that things are better now than they were two years ago.
But boom? No, sir.
Mines and Money in London seemed to capture this anomaly fairly well. Plenty of delegates made new connections and reached out to new audiences, stalwarts like Lydian International (TSE:LYD) talked imminent production, booths were reasonably busy and the floor criss-crossed with investors and other delegates. The only surly faces on display were those of Nigel Farage’s security men.
Even so, it’s the 121 event, with its unique format of scheduling attending companies with full days of meetings with serious money in inflatable huts, that’s really working this market well.
Connecting the likes of private equity group Denham Capital to interested mining companies isn’t an easy trick to pull off. But 121 does it time and again, all through the day. To put international companies together with international money consistently and well, irrespective of varied economic conditions in specific jurisdictions, is a neat trick and it represents the future of London’s resource company conferencing at least for the immediate future.
As for the Mining Capital event, that was on a somewhat smaller scale, but also did what it said on the tin. Companies came with assets in jurisdictions all round the world, from Mexico, Zimbabwe and Romania, the UK, the Ukraine, Chile, Canada, and the US.
The private equity component was provided by Greenstone Resources, a company with around US$500 mln under management, according to representative Tim Simpkins, who spoke with particular eloquence on the upside for copper.
Simpkins said that Greenstone had looked at around 1,000 companies and that so far had chosen nine to invest in, a sign of just what a battle it is to jump through the hoops that private equity holds up. But once through those hoops, the case is made and the support is there. Greenstone remains a long-term and supportive shareholder with significant stakes in two of the companies that spoke at the Mining Capital event, Excelsior Mining (TSE:MIN) and Coro Mining (TSE:COP).
Both offer the market significant exposure to copper production with good margin, and copper is probably the market’s most favoured commodity at the moment, save perhaps the specialist metals that will be used in electric vehicles and batteries like cobalt and lithium.
Lithium was represented at the Mining Capital event too, in the shape of London favourite Bacanora (LON:BCN), as Peter Secker closed out the event with an eloquent exposition of the market opportunity and the state of play at the company’s key asset in Sonora, Mexico.
Expect much more on lithium and the speciality metals in 2018.