Diggers & Dealers guide: what to watch for at next week’s big mining fest
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Investors in mining stocks will need to think like farmers next week, separating the wheat from the chaff, when the annual Diggers & Dealers forum kicks off in the outback WA city of Kalgoorlie.
A high point (and sometimes a low point) in the mining calendar, Diggers is the most closely followed and best attended of an increasingly crowded conference circuit.
It is also an event with multiple personalities; being both a “must attend” and an “avoid at all costs” sort of conference where just being there earns brownie points — while not being there can be just as informative.
The problem, as regular delegates have learned over the years, is that while compressing around 2200 paying customers into the relatively small spaces available at the Goldfields Arts Centre and adjoining exhibition area can create an exciting atmosphere there is probably more to be learned by watching the “today’s announcements” section of the ASX website.
Technology, and the corporate cops, caught up with Diggers many years ago with tough reporting rules requiring every company saying something new to lodge it with the ASX first.
There is, of course, the thrill (if that’s the right word) of being in Kalgoorlie when so many mining types and assorted hangers-on are milling around looking for someone to talk to, and that’s when the odd gem of information can be gleaned, which is why Stockhead will be there on the look-out for things not on the ASX website or mentioned by a speaker on the podium.
It’s sifting the nonsense spruiked at an event where the beer flows freely and tongues wag incessantly that requires a farmer’s approach to the job; tossing a vast amount of chaff into the bin and hanging on a few ears of wheat.
So, to help investors keen to follow Diggers from the safety of anywhere but Kalgoorlie here’s a potted list of speakers who might have something interesting to say, or who have a project with the potential to move the market.
Expect the Arts Centre auditorium to be full when proceedings start at 9am on Monday August 6, (all times in this report are WA time, add two hours for eastern time) — but don’t expect anyone in the room to understand a word said with both accents and content a challenge, especially when the heavy-hitting Jose Manuel Barroso delivers the keynote address.
Why anyone at Diggers thought it smart to invite a former Prime Minister of Portugal, and former President of the European Commission to a mining conference in Kalgoorlie is anybody’s guess, though perhaps his new job as chairman of the international advisory board of the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, might have helped.
Whatever the explanation it would be wise to not expect too many nuggets (gold or otherwise) to be dropped by Jose.
The first of four companies of interest on day one is New Century Resource (ASX:NCZ), scheduled to present at for 11.10am with the potential for an update on its bold Century Zinc resurrection project which has just completed the commissioning of the slurry concentrate pipeline from the mine in far north Queensland to the export facility at the port of Karumba.
In theory, re-working a mine which was once one of the world’s biggest zinc producers could be a company-maker for New Century.
— Diggers & Dealers (@diggersndealers) August 9, 2017
Peel Mining (ASX:PEX), scheduled for 2.35pm, will be closely watched thanks to its emerging copper and zinc projects near Cobar in NSW, historic home to some of Australia’s best base metals mines.
The latest drilling at the Southern Nights project revealed a best hit of 13.1 metres assaying 5.49% zinc, plus 1.53% lead, 0.39% copper and 31 grams of silver a tonne.
There might also be an update on the Mallee Bull copper project which is close to a development decision.
Lynas Corporation (ASX:LYC) at 3.20pm is certain to attract as much international as national attention thanks to its crucial role as a non-Chinese producer of rare earths, a family of commodities with the potential to be dragged into the U.S. v China trade war.
Sandfire Resources, which has the 5pm slot, is another closely followed miner thanks as much to its flagship DeGrussa copper mine in WA, as its near-mine expansion plans and proposed mine development in the U.S.
With the formalities of the opening day out of the way it’s a very busy Tuesday at Diggers with 19 companies expected to tell their stories, and if anybody thinks they can absorb that much information in a single sitting they’re fooling themselves.
So, the top five on day two, in no particular order looks like this:
Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) at 11.35am, with most interest in the size of the discount it is being hit with by Chinese steel mills.
Western Areas (ASX:WSA) at 12.25pm, with its nickel assets benefiting from the admission of nickel into the battery metals sector.
Mincor Resources (ASX:MCR), a born-again gold and nickel story.
Gold Road (ASX:GOR), one of the most successful explorers in the remote Yamarna region and half-owner of a mine getting close to first gold, and;
Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), a lithium leader which is starting to crank up production just as the supply of lithium starts to overtake demand.
Another fully-loaded day, but one also when less stoic delegates start to head for home, unless they’ve paid for the full service which includes a surprisingly high-quality dinner for 1300 delegates in a marquee. The highlight is generally wine of the highest standard –almost enough to encourage lapsed delegates to make the trip back to Kal.
Companies of interest on the final day include:
Pantoro (ASX:PNR), at 8.55am, a re-emerging goldminer which churned out 52,000 ounces in the year to June 30, and roughly same expected this year.
Novo Resources (TSX-V:NVO) at 12.20pm, perhaps the highlight of the conference because it was Canadian-based Novo which initiated the Pilbara gold nugget hunt. Everyone at Diggers will be super-keen to hear what’s next from Novo.
Heron Resources (ASX:HRR), at 1.10pm, an emerging base metals producer which is redeveloping the Woodlawn zinc mine in NSW.
SolGold (LSE & TSX:SOLG), at 2.20pm, London-listed but with Australian management overseeing a promising copper discovery in Ecuador, and;
Roy Hill Holding, a company in which you can’t buy shares unless your name is Rinehart or Hancock, but a business which is making a big impression on Australia’s iron ore industry under the guidance of its multi-billionaire owner, Gina Rinehart.
As an event with mining at its heart, it’s hard to beat Diggers, but as an event which always produces several types of indigestion it can be an event best observed from a distance.