The old stager is of course Mines & Money
This event was first conceived in the days when the last mining boom was just a twinkle in a Chinese government policy-maker’s eye. It got going in the early part of the last decade, and grew and grew until it became the go-to event of London’s mining calendar, attracting such luminaries as Robert Friedland, Rick Rule, Ross Beaty to its roster of speakers.
It has not been unusual in the past to see the weaving in and out of the event of all the top fund managers of the day.
These days, with international reach and a global brand, there is some skepticism in the market that the whole event might not now be spread a bit thin, and next week the jury will deliver its verdict.
The card is strong enough this year, to be sure, with Friedland making a welcome return, and joined in the list of headliners by Evy Hambro of Blackrock and Sean Boyd, the chief executive of Agnico Eagle (TSE:AEM).
Also on the card is Nigel Farage, a key player in the Brexit campaign, and a man who may receive a mixed reception as the UK economy continues to underperform international peers in Europe, North America and Asia in the aftermath of the vote.
There’s a case to be made too, that the recovery in the global mining sector has been less marked in the UK than it has been in previous cycles precisely because of the ongoing economic uncertainty around Brexit. And after all, why would you price your equity raise in pounds, one of the weakest currencies around at the moment, when it could be in Australian dollars, Canadian, US, or even - who knows? – Euros.
Certainly, this economic backdrop will be on the minds of delegates as they tour the floor in the Islington Business Design Centre trying to work out if the mood is reflective of the mining sector as a whole and not just London.
Certainly, there’ll be a different sort of atmosphere across town to the south, in Fenchurch Street, where the Mining 121 event is also taking place mid-week next week. This event has a younger, fresher feel than Mines & Money, and indeed was set up by the former events team at Mines & Money who found themselves in need of gainful employment at the height of the bear market.
It started small, but has now become a destination event in itself, distinguished by its unique inflatable meeting booths and highly sophisticated networking software. Last year’s speaking slots were its weakest aspect, but this year the line-up boasts representatives from Pala, RCF, and yes, Blackrock too, covering both bases, with well-known analyst Cailey Barker working the younger crowd.
It’s a fair bet these days that the 121 afterparty will be more fun than the Mines & Money dinner, which has become something of a ponderous affair in recent years. And it’s also worth not hitting the sauce too heavily on the Wednesday night, as Proactive’s own one-day event, Mining Capital, is taking place across Thursday morning and into lunchtime.
This is a simpler affair, involving a line up of ten different companies each giving presentations for twenty minutes to an audience of upwards of a hundred sophisticated mining investors. These will cover a diverse range of commodities, jurisdictions and opportunities, and should be the perfect way to ease out of what will no doubt be a very hectic week for London’s mining investment community.