IN these difficult times for the mining industry the support factors of networking and education are more important than ever. Establishing, maintaining and growing networks can provide many benefits to mining companies and the METS sector – chatting with like-minded peers, discussing successes and failures, sharing expertise, and learning about different situations. Education is always important in developing business but during troubled times it is even more important as this is when things must be done better or differently if companies are to survive.
There are a number of different ways to network and be educated, most of which take up valuable time and more often than not some expense. This is why it is important to carefully consider how you approach this and not just attend as many events as possible. After all, if desired, you could spend every day of the year at a conference, workshop, expo, forum, club or other mining event. You must consider what you are producing, who you hope to meet, what direction you want to take your business, how you want to wade through government regulations, what markets you want to improve on or open up, the cost of doing so and who else will be there, and then you must also take on board what other people are saying about the event and weigh up whether or not that will apply to your objectives.
There is plenty of negativity surrounding the industry due to uncertain global economic conditions, unpredictable commodity prices including declining gold prices, political risk, environmental pressures, resource nationalism and lack of financing available for exploration, development and expansion projects. Negativity breeds negativity and depression, aided by the mass media which always seems to focus on the bad news. This is unhealthy for the industry and is exacerbated if you attend an event where the vibe is not positive. Of course, this is hard to judge beforehand and is where advice from peers, friends or other network participants can be taken on board.
Unfortunately this year’s PDAC convention in Toronto, arguably the world’s biggest annual mining investment event, was depressed with investors only willing to look at the very best projects and a general lack of confidence much more evident than at any other recent PDAC convention. Just two weeks later the Mines & Money Hong Kong event was more positive for investment, possibly because of the Chinese factor and the location closer to the new epicentre of world mining as well as to Australia, which seems a little more resilient in regards to mining than North America at the moment.
The same positive atmosphere was easy to detect at Ozmine in Jakarta during April although exhibitors were primarily from the METS sector rather than mining companies and despite the fact that there is still uncertainty present in Indonesia’s mining sector. This event probably illustrated the importance of networking and education more than any other recent event. Many exhibitors were new to the event and were open to sharing and learning from other exhibitors and attendees. Because of this open attitude, many were optimistic and enthusiastic about the opportunities for new business generated from Ozmine, with much of this occurring at social events organized around the conference.
This enthusiasm appears to have rubbed off on new initiatives announced at the time, including two new mining clubs organized by Mining Media International, publishers of The ASIA Miner. The success of the Melbourne Mining Club is recognized globally and while there are many mining clubs around the world striving to reach this elevation, the timing of the launch of Djakarta Mining Club and Coal Club Indonesia as well as the networking opportunities they will offer companies trying to benefit from Indonesia’s rich endowment of mineral resources had plenty of appeal.
There were more than 130 people at the launch of the clubs and the announcement of initial club sponsors - Caterpillar, Reed Exhibitions and Weir Minerals - and there was strong interest shown by other potential sponsors as well as future club participants at the launch as well as during Ozmine and other related events that week (for details contact [email protected]). It seems the importance of networking and education during these difficult times for the industry was recognized by many.