Against all odds, a bustling Kalgoorlie once again played host to the annual Diggers & Dealers mining forum, with opening remarks delivered by Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan and plenty of excitement is buzzing around the industry’s newest engagement; Super Pit co-owners Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings.
But, the Premier admits, he wasn’t the forum organisers’ first choice for the delivery of opening remarks. That honour was first handed to an Oxford University professor by the appropriate name of Ian Goldin.
“What I deduce is that all I needed to do in order to get an invite to open this event was lock everyone else out,” Mr McGowan said in his opening lines of a speech heavy on the state’s textbook handling of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the prevention of casualties (both human and industry) that most certainly would have been.
He wasn’t exactly coy about his other 2020 victories either.
“What a year it’s been. We have been fighting tooth and nail against a dangerous health risk to our state, and we’ve been successful in keeping this great threat out of Western Australia,” the Premier said.
“But now that we have successfully dealt with Clive Palmer, we can now turn our attention to Covid-19.”
Initial nervous laughter was quickly followed by cheerful applause.
He also paid tribute to Bill Beament and Raleigh Finlayson of Northern Star and Saracen (respectively) for the major roles they played in the recently announced $16 billion tie-up between the two WA-based gold miners.
“We saw (this news), in which the deal will create the 10th biggest gold mining company in the world,” Mr McGowan said.
“It shows that there is a great deal of confidence in WA, to do a deal like that right now. We have the most stable and reliable jurisdiction in the world… and it is our future prospects that are exciting, and are a fundamental reason to bet big on WA.”
In a last minute shake-up of scheduling, Northern Star’s follow-up segment was combined with Saracen’s, with Mr Beament and Mr Finlayson tag-teaming the podium to give us a bit of a taste of what the soon-to-be merged gold miner will look like.
Sticking to the script, there wasn’t much else revealed on the merger by either party, but as Mr Beament put it, “Following what the Premier said this morning, it’s time to bet big on WA; I’ll add, it’s time to bet big on Northern Star and Saracen”.