A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016

WITH Diggers & Dealers is over for another year, MNN editor Kristie Batten looks back at the highlights and gossip from the week.
A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016 A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016 A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016 A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016 A look back on Diggers & Dealers 2016

Kristie Batten

Site visits

Sunday site visits included new mines Thunderbox (Saracen) and Deflector (Doray), as well as AngloGold Ashanti and Independence Group’s Tropicana, Gold Road’s Gruyere, Sandfire’s DeGrussa and Northern Star’s Kalgoorlie ops.

On the latter two trips, guests were treated to extensive seafood buffets for lunch.

However, Northern Star perhaps slightly edged out Sandfire, given its seafood buffet was held in the underground workshop of the Kanowna Belle mine.

Northern Star boss Bill Beament joked that the unique restaurant was called 400 by 400 – because it was 400km from the coast and 400m underground.

The Northern Star trip also featured a twilight cocktail party for around 100 guests, which was kicked off by the blasting of the portal for the new Millennium underground mine at Kundana.

Sentiment

The mercury may have dropped to zero degrees (just ask the analyst who was forced to sleep outside on the tray of a ute), but the sentiment among the gold players was hot.

But Evolution Mining executive chairman Jake Klein noted that although gold miners were currently in “Hollywood”, other commodities had their day in the sun in the past and likely would again.

Saracen Mineral Holdings MD Raleigh Finlayson told MNN the sentiment towards gold at Diggers had almost been “feverish”.

“How long it will last, who knows? But sentiment is as strong as it’s ever been,” he said.

Official attendance numbers reached 1910, but there were many more people that didn’t have delegate passes or “shared” badges with others.

Booths

More people at Diggers equalled a higher level of foot traffic, with almost all exhibiting companies we talked to pleased with the response.

Among the busier booths was S2 Resources (which also had a polar bear mascot for its flagship project) after its recent gold success, and lithium developer Pilbara Minerals.

First-time presenter and exhibitor Newmarket Gold reported strong interest, and chief financial officer Robert Dufour said that unlike PDAC, which was almost too big, Diggers was a good size that allowed people to interact.

Dacian’s Rohan Williams was pleased with the response but said the booth was quieter than last year.

“We are not as busy in our booth as we thought we would be and I think that is because the market gets it,” he said.

Other attractions like the Emeco simulator, the Ausdrill Hockeyroos challenger, and Perth Mint’s Australian Kangaroo One Tonne Gold Coin were also a hit.

Presentations

Keynote presenter John Lipsky drew a few early laughs during his presentation.

“There are three types of economists – those who can count and those who can’t,” he said.

But it was Metals X CEO Peter Cook who stole the show again this year, delivering his presentation in a North Melbourne Boomer Harvey commemorative jumper and hat.

“We need to see more of the fun side of Diggers,” he said.

He also had a jab at Neometals’ Chris Reed (“great presentation of lithium Chris – I nearly believed it!”), while Saracen’s Raleigh Finlayson gave it back to Cooky later in the week by sledging him over his beloved Kangaroos.

Leading gold miners Evolution and Regis were the highlights of Tuesday morning, while there were three female presenters this year in Gold Fields’ Kelly Carter (who made a case for diversity during her talk), Lynas’ Amanda Lacaze and last-minute addition, Sipa’s Lynda Burnett.

Burnett got the call-up the Friday before when OceanaGold pulled out after a fatality at its Waihi mine.

Events

There were a number of dinners on Sunday night, followed by parties hosted by investment banks and broking houses.

One strange phenomenon was despite the bigger crowds, the pubs were unusually quiet, with the Palace and Exchange hotels nearly empty at 2am.

There was a much larger number of site visits during the week with trips to Evolution Mining’s Mungari operations, Metals X’s local mines, Silver Lake Resources’ Mt Monger, and Independence Group’s Nova project, which may have explained the slower nightlife.

“I think everyone’s getting in the mood for business. There doesn’t seem to be as many pissheads this year,” one long-time attendee told MNN.

“The mindset last year was ‘shit, there’s not much to look forward to, we may as well get drunk’!”

And it seemed people were getting down to business.

Diggers had seven meeting rooms onsite which were solidly booked. There were 76 meetings held over the three days and countless more offsite and inside the marquee.

Chairman Nick Giorgetta said at least two explorers had received commitments to raise $5-7 million, and a number of deals were initiated.

He was pleased with the mood.

“For our 25th anniversary, we could not have scripted it better ourselves.”

Tomorrow: our photo gallery from Diggers & Dealers.