Well, last week I got to visit the 2009 Diggers and Dealers convention in Kalgoorlie. Its a three day event and we saw probably 40 companies presenting and quite a few others with booths there telling their stories, selling their wares and allowing us to catch up with whats gone on over the past year.
The thing about going to Diggers & Dealers and listening to those companies presenting, particularly if theyre the companies youre quite familiar with, is that you can see the significant progress that has been made over the last 12 months, despite the volatility that we saw over the 2nd half of last year, most of the companies have really been able to achieve a lot. Thats either consolidating tenements, building new mines, increasing their reserves through exploration, looking at other exploration thats lead to new discoveries. I was particularly impressed with what had been achieved in terms of consolidation of tenements and also exploration. Some really good companies have shown that they have been able to make excellent progress over the last year.
In terms of what was on therethe Iron Ore sector is becoming quite significant, instead of it just being BHP and Rio, and one or two others, theres a plethora of players and its difficult to assess whats the best value, but we know that there are a number of groups out there that do look to have good operations and provide excellent relative value.
There are a number of companies which are looking at 1-2million tons per annum project developments often with a partner, often with a Chinese partner, fitting in with existing infrastructure or being able to tie in with a bigger player. Were also seeing the development of some new standalone projects requiring infrastructure developments.
Things that I did like there were Grange Resources, with its project in Tasmania (the pelletised Iron Ore), that projects been running for about 40 years so its had a long history, but its still running at about 1.5 million tones and theyve got another project, which they would like to develop along the same lines around Albany. So that looks really quite exciting.
A little company called BC Iron looks very interesting with its projects, which start up quite soon, a JV with FMG.
And the other one that I liked, Flinders Mines with potential of a very very large resource.
These companies I think have got excellent valuations and investment arithmetic that makes them look particularly good.
On the nickel side where weve seen more exploration in those brown field sites, great performances by Mincore, Independence , Western Areas, and of course that new entrant Mirabella.
Nickel prices touched $20,000 a tonne again this week, and it looks as if well probably see better nickel prices going forward, as we go into the second half of the year after the northern hemisphere holiday.
Those sorts of companies that I mentioned, I think are extremely well placed, Mincore in particular Good earnings, good cost structure, strong addition to resources, exploration has been impressive.
On the Gold side, again, the feature there was consolidation of tenements, and development of new projects , exploration, Norton Goldfields look very very good, Integra looks outstanding, Avoca looks outstanding, and we saw things outside of Western Australia, with the development in the Northern Territory around Tennant Creek with companies like Emerson Resources and Westgold and little Truscott Mining which sort of fits in there, those companies I think are redeveloping areas that have only been treated very shallowly with exploration in terms of drilling depth, but more importantly, there hasnt been much exploration for over 20 years, despite the level of gold price that we have seen in recent times.
That consolidation is also taking place in other parts of the country, but Tennant Creek area looks really interesting, and that stuff around Kalgoorlie.
In terms of copper, we saw a really good story from Ivanhoe Australia, obviously with its Molybdenum-rhenium project as part of a copper area, consolidation of tenements again, new exploration programs that are actually spending money drilling, and they look particularly good.
We also saw PanAust and Equinox with projects in Laos and Zambia respectively, new companies, companies going places and growing with good long term futures.
Also I went to see Clancy Exploration, a company we floated a couple of years ago, theyre doing some very good work in New South Wales, it looks good.
As far as the other players, lots of action I think, but the themes are consolidation of tenements, making stronger companies, more exploration, exploration dollars will bring success as people look deeper things.