Asia Pacific Mining Conference
Richard Mills, Chairman
during the second week of October, the Asia Pacific Mining Conference is
possibly the largest such event in the region and miners were out in full
The host and star of the show
was Philip Romualdez, President of the ASEAN Federation
of Mines. Many found it surprising that the annual event would be held in
Philippines. The mining industry has only recently become viable again in
country after many years of dormancy but it seems to have staged a
comeback in a very short time. This is said to be mainly due to the
tremendous sales skills and political connections of Mr. Romualdez.
Nick Sheard, INCO’s Vice
President of Global Exploration, was one of the highlight presenters of the
conference. His company’s planned buyout of Falconbridge was announced the
day before he spoke and the interest in his message was exhilarating
Nick documented convincingly
that demand for nickel will continue to be strong in the coming years.
Robust growth from China and the rest of Asia should create 4% growth per
year for some time. To keep pace with such demand, a new “Goro-size”
project would need to be brought online each year. (Inco’s Goro
development in New Caledonia should produce 60,000 tonnes per year of nickel
when it is fully operational).
His analysis of the industry
showed that this is clearly not possible. The 5-year slowdown in exploration
and development that began in the late 1990’s has created a mismatch
between supply and demand that will take years to correct. Nick feels the
most likely outcome will be continued high prices for nickel and most
Inco’s current projections are
that 45% of its worldwide production will come from Asia by the year 2009.
The company has strategic investments throughout the region and feels it has
the most to gain of any nickel producer from China’s continuing growth.
Peter Dimmell, President of
Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), gave a
motivational talk about the state of mining finance in the world. His
organization’s upcoming Mining Industry Financing Convention in Toronto is
expected to attract a record 14,000 attendees.
One of his slides showed a
picture of the 2 prospectors who uncovered the colossal Voisey’s Bay
deposit now owned by Inco. Peter said that junior mining companies are
responsible for a disproportionate number of discoveries and being nice to
them is vital if a country is to succeed in mining. He said that countries
with a great interest in developing their industry such as Philippines need
to reduce the amount of time and red tape required for approvals. The
corruption that is prevalent throughout Asia is also a serious hindrance to
Mr. Dimmell also talked about
the progress PDAC was making with its Environmental Excellence in
Exploration (E3) program which provides guidance to the highest levels of
environmental care and community engagement during mineral exploration. He
gave Philippines credit for signing up for the program in advance of most
countries in Asia.
There was some gossip about
Robert Friedland of Ivanhoe – the Bill Gates of mining, some say. He was
the featured speaker at the Mining Conference held earlier in the year in
Philippines and was scheduled to speak again at the October event. For some
reason, Friedland was conspicuously absent. It is known that he had been in
and out of Philippines and rumours were that a deal was in the works. The
deal – if there was one -- seems not to have come to fruition, at least
for the time being.
Other speakers at the conference
included senior mining representatives of most countries in the ASEAN
region. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia. Laos, South Africa, Australia,
Vietnam and Japan were some of these. Even backward moving Myanmar sent a
brave soul to plead for new investment.
There was a special announcement
during the event that Philip Romualdez would be appointed the President of
the ASEAN Federation of Mines for another year. With this fellow as the
industry’s head salesman, the future looks good for mining in Asia.
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