For a businessperson involved in the mining sector, attending a Mines and Money conference is like going on pilgrimage to the Vatican, Mecca, Jerusalem or Varanasi.
The journey begins with a longing desire to see and experience something sacred and holy. Next, preparations are made for the journey. Suits are packed, along with presentations and plenty of business cards. Upon arrival, the pilgrim joins a large group of devotees and listens to the voices of the enlightened few.
The believers are bound by a shared set of beliefs. At Mines and Money, those beliefs can be summed up into one sentence: “What lies beneath the ground holds untold riches.”
Mines and Money
In a nutshell, the event brings together mining companies, investors, brokers and other third parties so that they all share information, exchange ideas and – hopefully – do business.
I decided to attend the December 2013 conference in London. The event took place in the fashionable Islington district.
For one, a friend and former client had a stand there. His was one of the gold mining companies present. I wanted to catch up with him and his team on the progress of the company. Secondly, some of the most prominent figures in the business were in attendance and it was a good opportunity to discuss current trends in global mining. Amongst other things, it had been a challenging time for the sector as a whole. Many businesses had difficulty accessing capital.
On the 2nd day of the conference, whilst taking a little break, I accidentally bumped into an acquaintance of mine by a coffee table. This older gentleman, almost twice my age, happened to be one of the shareholders of the group that owns the Mines and Money conference brand. We had a brief chat and agreed to meet up the following day and go for lunch as it had been a while since we last saw one another.
The next day when I arrived at the pre-agreed meeting point I found my friend holding two sandwiches in his hand.
Odd. Aren’t we going out?
“Come, no time to eat out. Let’s go listen to the speakers,” he said.
Not interested. The last thing I wanted to do was to listen to more speakers. I had listened to a few already and preferred to mingle with the people on the floor who manned the stands. They included geologists, CFOs, business development executives and even CEOs. “Look, I’m not so keen on listening to more speakers. Why don’t we meet up afterwards?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The most successful mining entrepreneur of our time is speaking. You want to listen to him.”
Interesting. I reconsidered.
“And he’s a born entertainer.”
Done. “Let’s go.”
We set off in the direction of the large designated room where the speakers took turns to pontificate. My friend manoeuvred his way to the front row, asked a random stranger to move down one seat and the two of us ended up sitting next to one another. We ate our sandwiches and listened to the talk.
And then, finally, the speaker I was persuaded to listen to came on stage. Let’s call him Mr. Mining (or Mr. M). [READ MORE…]