All attention will focus on who tonight’s winners of the prestigious Diggers & Dealers awards will be. One would expect the awardees to be well received. In the meantime news that former BHP Billiton iron ore boss Jimmy Wilson would take over as CEO of WA’s members-owned grains giant CBH kept us entertained. Change coming.
We have heard lots of great success and turnaround stories over the past two days, so the choices for the Digger and the Dealer will no doubt be well received. The Geoff Stokes Memorial will be interesting. Spotted in the marquee were some old faces who hadn’t been to Diggers for a while.
IN THE MEANTIME, as the wind was shaking the light rafts in the marquee yesterday, Gold Fields boss Nick Holland delivered his first address to Diggers & Dealers. It was a good one, too, highlighting just how big the big South African’s presence in Western Australia is.
The four mining centres – St Ives, Granny Smith, Agnew and Darlot (about to be sold to Red 5) – contributed 942,000 ounces to Gold Fields’ 2.14m ounce global footprint.
All-in cash costs in WA were $1261 an ounce, a figure Holland conceded was higher than many of its local peers but included a $100 million annual exploration spend.
As Holland was quick to point out to the audience, “people here are starting to talk about exploration, and that is great, but we have been doing that for quite some time”.
“We are spending one-third of the total gold exploration budget in Australia,” he said.
Certainly the results coming out the exploration push are impressive, particularly around the St Ives complex where the Greater Invincibles resource has grown to 1.4m ounces. Pit mining at Invincibles will continue until mid-2019 while development of the underground operation kicked off last month.
Concepts studies at the palaeochannel project are under way, and Holland said “this could be a multi-million ounce opportunity for St Ives”.
Expect Gold Fields to ramp up promotion of its West Aussie assets.
EARLIER, St Barbara boss Bob Vassie took to the stage to possibly spell out for the final time the incredible turnaround effort he has achieved at the Gwalia and Simberi (PNG) gold miner over the past three years.
Discussing Monday’s pre-presentation news that St Barbara had declared a 6c full-year fully franked dividend, Vassie quipped: “We hadn’t seen money for a while so I was going throw it on the ground and roll in it.”
As to why the dividend was set at 6c, Vassie said he wanted it to be 7c – the St Barbara share price low about three years ago, it is $2.81 at the moment – while his wife bought in at 10c, the second option for the divi level. Alas, it stayed at 6c, or worth about $30m in aggregate to St Barbara shareholders.
Vassie, meanwhile, confessed on the sidelines he drives a Tesla – like Northern Star Resources CEO Stuart Tonkin – which could also explain his enthusiasm for joining the board of Mark Calderwood’s lithium hopeful Tawana Resources. Tawana has an interest in the Bald Hill project south-east of Kambalda.
PETER COOK is no stranger to Diggers, neither is Westgold Resources, though yesterday marked the first Diggers presentation since Westgold was spun out of Metals X late last year.
Cooky didn’t disappoint – with his long-time accomplice Peter Talky Newton in the audience – and captured the reserve life theme that has been dominating the gold stocks this weeks.
Always good with a one-liner, Cooky pointed out that Westgold had one of the biggest resource portfolios in Australia (pipped only by giants such as Newmont and Newcrest) and that his company remained one of the cheapest stocks based on various valuation metrics.
“We’re not fancy but we’re cheap,” Cooky said, before adding: “We arguably have the most growth (ahead of us) in the gold sector.”
Bring it on!
Cooky finished by turning the tables on Keith “Three Questions” Goode by paying tribute to the analyst, who has attended most – or all? – Diggers.