Just as day one had brought excitement with the kick-off of this year’s Diggers & Dealers conference, day two is proving to be equally effervescent.
While Kalgoorlie may be a town built on the back of the gold industry, yesterday’s discussions around 'green' metals, like lithium and nickel, continued well into today.
One of the most notable slots in today’s program was Pilbara Minerals (PLS) chief Ken Brinsden, who hinted at a “genuine shortage” in lithium as electric vehicle makers ramp up the pressure on miners to fulfil their contractual obligations.
“The idea the chemical conversion industry is now stuck, they’ve built a lot of capacity without reference to the underlying raw materials supply base,” he said.
“As a result, the miners are going to attract more margin; there’s just logic in it.”
Those same sentiments surfaced earlier in the day, with BHP (BHP) Nickel West’s Eddy Haegel referring to last year as an “inflection point” that’s lead to an earlier-than-expected arrival of the electric vehicle market.
“By 2030,” he said, “we expect that a quarter of all sales will be electric vehicles.”
However, Evolution Mining’s (EVN) executive chairman Jake Klein had a different angle, comparing the valuation of green minerals-focused companies to that of the dot-com bubble.
“Companies with assets in these commodities are being priced a lot like internet companies: all about their potential and their future earnings,” he warned.
“It all seems almost too good to be true, and just maybe it is.”
But it wasn’t all about battery metals, nor was it all about mining.
Roy Hill boss Gerhard Veldsman used a portion of his stage time to take a swing at the federal government’s vaccination rollout, arguing that Australia risked falling behind the rest of the world without set dates for vaccination targets.
“COVID is not gone, we see what’s happening in New South Wales, now also in Queensland, we need to start to plot a way out of this,” he said.
“It was great to see that the federal government has put a plan forward.
"Personally, I would have liked a few more dates to that plan because most of us as miners know that a plan without dates is just a wish list.”
With only one day left to go, the forum’s 2400 delegates will be looking to cram as much as they can into the time they have left. No doubt that will include attending the presentation by Elizabeth Gaines, Fortescue Metals (FMG) chief executive, at the end of tomorrow’s session.
At last year’s conference, Ms Gaines was more than vocal about the gender imbalance within Australia’s mining sector, and even took aim at the organiser of Diggers & Dealers for the fact there were more male speakers named Peter than there were women all together.
And with more women presenting at this year’s event than ever before, we wait with bated breath to see what Ms Gaines has to say this time around.