It is a long way to the top on Day 2 at Diggers & Dealers, particularly when you are trying to emulate an opening 24 hours that featured a jokes-telling Premier, a $16 billion WASM-inspired gold mega-merger and a stunning performance by Peter Cook’s AC/DC tribute band the Smoking Guns.
But as one local entrepreneur summed it up, activity levels in and around the Goldfields Arts Centre are in serious overdrive as deal-making goes into another orbit.
“There are a lot of people who haven’t physically seen each other for a long time, because of COVID, plus the gold market is running hot. So everyone is looking for deals and opportunities and there’s just heaps of talking going on.”
At least for those who didn’t lose their voice on Monday night.
The M&A results won’t be made public for some time but chatter was everywhere in and around the Diggers & Dealers marquee yesterday – some discreet, some about as subtle as the Super Pit’s waste dumps on the Kalgoorlie-Boulder skyline.
Seeing two CEOs chat is not always just a catch-up and story swapping exercise – though seeing corporate advisers scurrying off into meeting rooms with a company CEO also does not mean a takeover is imminent.
But the stage is set.
IPOd to the hilt
Equity markets have made clear that they will back more exploration success, more gold start-ups and more value-adding corporate combinations.
Not surprisingly, upcoming exploration floats such as Chris Stevens’ Coda Minerals, Allan Kelly’s Miramar Resources and Will Belbin’s Metal Hawk had no trouble raising their IPO dough and are now waiting for the ASX to set listing dates as early as next week.
Expectations are that IPO investors could expect a handsome paper profit on listing.
Funny how it wasn’t that long ago that the industry was bemoaning a lack of IPOs.
Estrella Resources didn’t have time to secure a booth following its nickel sulphide discovery last week at Carr Boyd, 80km north of the Goldfields Arts Centre – so boss Chris Daws has been handing out information leaflets to anyone in the marquee.
Gibb River Diamonds boss Jim Richards, also basking from his gold discovery last week at Edjudina – 36m at 4gpt from 4m – is tomorrow driving investors up to site, 130km north of the Arts Centre.
Brokers love a good exploration story – just look at Chalice Gold Mines, which this week broke through the $1 billion market cap barrier on the back of its Julimar palladium discovery, 70km north-east of Perth.
Having exploration excitement stories Chalice and Andrew Muir’s NTM Gold – 679,000 ounces near Leonora with more to come – presenting in the last two slots of yesterday’s evening session was a perfect lead-in to the Kal Tire Traditional Bash.
Size doesn’t matter
Not that yesterday was all about the small stocks – the big boys and girls also came out to play.
If not for a technical glitch in his Melbourne home office, St Barbara’s new boss Craig Jetson would’ve been a welcome introduction to Diggers & Dealers. Instead, his slot was admirably filled by Meryl Jones, St Barbara’s acting head of business development.
Elizabeth Gaines returned to Kalgoorlie-Boulder to present the Fortescue Metals Group story and again highlight the dearth of women on the Diggers & Dealers’ presentation schedule.
Mt Gibson Iron chief Peter Kerr added to the iron ore story before Eddy Haegel, BHP Nickel West’s asset president, talked about his team’s efforts to not only contribute nickel to the clean energy world but clean up internal processes to reduce Nickel West’s own carbon footprint.
Haegel’s presentation also included the newly acquired Honeymoon Well asset, purchased from Norilsk Nickel in June for a speculated $US30 million. Honeymoon Well will add some much-needed higher-grade nickel sulphide tonnes to the Nickel West flowchart.
Nickel West is a hungry beast and keeping a close eye on some of the more prospective and advanced nickel sulphide players, not least St George Mining.
The Nickel West play is heavily focused on a cleaner world – “as decarbonisation accelerates, the world will require more copper, nickel, potash and steel”.
It’s music to the ears of WA’s emerging bunch of potash players like Salt Lake Potash, one of today’s presenters, and Australian Potash, chaired by the Diggers & Dealers chairman Jim Walker.
That should make Australian Potash a start-up speaker in 2021.
The cleaner energy world is not a new theme at Diggers & Dealers and increasingly becoming a core component of the corporate presentations here.
Interestingly, yesterday’s Gold Industry Group breakfast asked the more than 100 attendees whether “the low-carbon transition is a challenge or an opportunity” for the mining industry. The coffee was obviously good and put all in a positive mood – the votes on Menti came in at 34 to 15 (yes, not everyone voted) in favour of “opportunity”. Time will tell.
Alpha Beta Hunt
Finally, Karora Resources made its Diggers & Dealers debut. A new name but an old story – the Beta Hunt mine near Kambalda, the Higginsville gold operations and an expanding footprint in the Kalgoorlie-to-Norseman belt.
Karora boss Graeme Sloan said the company was on track to meet its 2020 guidance of 90,000 to 95,000oz and be producing at all-in costs of $US1000/oz by year’s end.
Having made new gold and nickel sulphide discoveries at Beta Hunt and adding ounces at Higginsville, Sloan also pointed to four consecutive quarters of consistent production and reduced costs.
Listed on the TSX, Karora – nee RNC Minerals – is likely to have another look at an ASX listing next year.
“We are an Australian asset and I think we should be on the ASX,” Sloan said.