And just like that, the 30th annual Diggers & Dealers conference has come to an end.
While battery metals might have been the hot topic over the past few days, Boss Energy chief Duncan Craib predicted this morning that the uranium sector was “on the cusp of recovery”. He suggested prices would soar as the world moves towards a re-embracing of nuclear power amid a push for greener sources of energy.
“The past six months have been absolutely transformational for the industry and one of the key drivers […] is the increasing recognition of climate change and how nuclear can sort of mitigate that climate change through its reduction in carbon emissions,” he said.
“We’re seeing legislation being codified in some of the most developed world, with the US, the UK, South Korea and Japan all committing to carbon-free emissions by 2050, and China, for that matter, by 2060.”
But what many of the delegates seemed to be hanging out for was was the presentation by Fortescue Metals CEO Elizabeth Gaines. After flying in this afternoon, she was quick to address the potential COVID-19 case that came out of the iron ore giant’s Cloudbreak operation in the Pilbara.
“And before anyone asks, I haven’t been to Cloudbreak in the last month, and neither have any of my colleagues here today,” she said.
“But I have, however, been participating in our incident response since I landed this afternoon.”
Ms Gaines also acknowledged that her address at Diggers & Dealers “has become somewhat synonymous with the annual Diggers Diversity Index”. She said that this year she was pleased to see a small increase in the number of women speakers “from three to four”.
“As an industry, we must and we can do more to ensure we have a diverse workforce that is reflective of our community, and that we foster a workplace culture that truly embraces diversity and inclusiveness,” she continued.
“And it is critical that we use forums such as Diggers to demonstrate this commitment.”
It was a tone that underscored the whole of the three days, particularly given the instances of sexual harassment — including rape allegations — that have rocked the industry in recent weeks.
Pilbara Minerals boss Ken Brinsden touched on it yesterday during his presentation, saying “dinosaurs” needed to be rehabilitated rather than relocated.
“Let’s have a crack at rehabilitating individuals, turning them around, making them better people,” he said.
“And to my mind, that’s going to be a much more sophisticated and better industry response to what represents a reasonably serious challenge to the future of our industry.”
As for the rest of the night, many of the conference’s 2400 attendees will be enjoying the final WesTrac Gala Dinner before heading back to reality tomorrow.
And with any luck, next year’s event will come at a time when we have a much better grasp on the pandemic so those in the eastern states can finally return to the centre of Australia’s mining sector in Kalgoorlie.