By Courtney Pearson
16 July, 2015
HELD in Australia’s unofficial gold capital and renowned mining hub Kalgoorlie, Diggers & Dealers has grown from a humble 70 delegates to more than 1800 every year.
The well-known mining forum began 23 years ago with a focus on gold, but has since expanded to include all kinds of mining.
“It started as a show where the dealers were meeting some of the operators and [we had] one-day presentations, and it’s escalated slowly and become bigger and bigger,” Diggers & Dealers event chairman Nick Giorgetta said.
“It’s been a great success and it’s still regarded as one of the major forums in the world.”
The long-running event attracts a diverse range of delegates, including mining professionals from the US, New Zealand, Canada and the UK.
It was expected to attract between 1700 and 1800 attendees in 2015.
“There are managers, there are analysts, [there are] stockbrokers,” Mr Giorgetta said.
“I would say 50 per cent to 60 per cent would be the presenters, 25 per cent would be the investors and 3 per cent or 4 per cent are from the media.”
Diggers & Dealers will be held at the Goldfields Arts Centre in Kalgoorlie between 3 August and 5 August.
The three-day event will see 45 presenters take to the stage.
Mr Giorgetta said the format had worked well, with presenters covering a range of interesting topics every year.
“The diggers and dealers have been improving their technology,” he said.
“Every year you just see better presentations, more up-to-date technological advances.”
The presentations will begin with keynote speaker Gene Sperling, who was the director of the National Economic Council and assistant to the president for Economic Policy under presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
Mr Giorgetta said Mr Sperling was a worthy addition to the line-up and would give an interesting presentation during the current economic uncertainty.
“He has a lot of inside information about how [governments] react and why they make the decisions that they make,” he said.
“He’s a highly regarded presenter and we were interested in getting some insight into how America is getting through the crisis.”
Mr Sperling is the first of a number of highly-regarded presenters, with many well-known mining companies making an appearance on the line-up.
There are four majors on the bill, including Newmont Asia Pacific and Fortescue, which Mr Giorgetta said was a “good sign”.
The 45-company bill includes presentations from Rio Tinto, Aurelia Metals, AngloGold Ashanti, Doray Minerals, Ramelius Resources and Rox Resources.
However, the uncertainty within the mining industry has seen a change in presenters.
“There’s a reduction in presenters from iron ore, and we know why,” Mr Giorgetta said.
“It’s been quite a difficult time for them – we’ve only got a few presenters from iron ore.”
While uncertainty may not be positive for the industry, with many juniors struggling, Mr Giorgetta said the current state of the mining economy would make for many interesting and informing presentations, both for investors and for explorers.
“There are a lot of commodities that are out of favour so there are going to be some good opportunities for investors to identify value,” he said.
Mr Giorgetta said that Diggers & Dealers was a perfect opportunity to make lasting connections with industry peers.
As it’s staged outside a major city, the forum brought delegates together in a unique way.
“What makes [Diggers & Dealers] different is the fact that for three days the whole group is forced to stay together,” he said.
Delegates are able to reconnect with peers from last year’s event, while continuing to meet new people across the three days..
Attendeees mingle easily during and after the day’s presentations, helped along by the end-of-the-day networking events.
Mr Giorgetta said the event organisers were able to make networking even easier during the presentation days.
“We organise one-on-one networking, so anyone that listens to a presentation wants to talk to the manager of the company we can arrange it,” he said.
Attendees are also able to visit the nearby mines.
Many mines are within 200km to 300km of the city centre, making it easy to get there and back in less than a day.
“Most companies organise some charter planes so they can take them for half a day – so they’re not just talking about it, they can actually see the operation for themselves,” Mr Giorgetta said.
“It’s unique – you can’t do this anywhere else.”
The event will be closed by the annual Gala Dinner, which gives delegates an opportunity to toast the industry and watch the industry’s most outstanding players awarded.
The ceremony will present the GJ Stokes Memorial, Digger, Dealer, Media and Best Emerging Company awards to the mining industry’s best. Previous winners include Aurelia Metals for Best Emerging Company, the Tropicana Joint Venture (AngloGold Ashanti and Independence Group) for Digger and Northern Star Resources for Dealer.