Battery Metal Buzz Counters Financial Market Anxiety During Mining’s Big Show

(Bloomberg) — The turmoil that rocked financial markets this week has done little to shake optimism around global mining, if the signs of exuberance on display are to be believed. one of the biggest gatherings in the industry for years.

Thousands of people from all walks of the industry gathered this week in Toronto, a global hub of mining capitalism, to strike deals, generate buzz and network after more than two years of pandemic restrictions. at most major industry gatherings.

“There was a huge pent-up appetite to go out in person and see people” and “phenomenal dialogue between various groups,” PDAC President Alex Christopher said in an interview during the last in-person day of the gathering. “I’m sure there’s a lot of business going on right now.”

Even a massive stock sell-off that pushed U.S. stock markets into bearish territory and recession warnings from market pundits did little to dampen the enthusiasm of those who make a living by finding and extracting minerals from the ground. .

“The mood is exciting, especially in the area of ​​metal batteries,” said Chris Gale, chief executive of Latin Resources Ltd., based in Perth, Australia, as he navigated through the crowds in the center of the cavernous downtown Toronto convention, exchanging pleasantries with familiar faces. the path. “It’s great to have everyone in the same room at the same time.”

Gale said his team had 12 meetings in three days to do the work surrounding the development of a lithium project in Brazil. The conference helped reaffirm enthusiasm around battery metals, he said, even after a market rout that saw his company’s shares fall about 70% from an April peak. .

Attendees at the PDAC’s annual event shared the collective realization that the world desperately needs more supplies of raw materials, including the critical metals – lithium, nickel, cobalt and copper – needed for batteries, to electric vehicles and cleaner technologies that are seen as essential in a global push. turn away from fossil fuels.

Miners, battery makers and automakers are racing to get more control over the supply of these metals amid looming shortages and growing demand for electric vehicles. BloombergNEF expects all of the world’s known reserves of lithium, cobalt and nickel, plus a huge contribution from metal recycling, to be depleted if the world is to eliminate road transport emissions by 2050.

“It’s the excitement at the PDAC – the start of a huge bull run for metals and mining, said Trevor Walker, CEO of Fronter Lithium Inc., which has a project in the northern Ontario.

Battery metals were one of the topics of the conference. In an impromptu poll of Canada’s top mining bankers during a roundtable in a packed session, two said they expected lithium prices to outperform other commodities over the course of next year due to growing consumption and supply shortages. Bankers expected large sums of money in the metal battery sector while generalist investors, who remained largely on the sidelines, are becoming aware of the constraints on the supply of minerals necessary for the energy transition.

The focus on these industrial metals has taken away some of the luster of precious metals at a conference that tends to attract its fair share of gold bugs and bullion producers from around the world.

“There’s a little more excitement around battery metals,” Alamos Gold Inc. CEO John A. McCluskey said in an interview from his company’s booth in the sprawling trade hall, which took attracted 864 exhibitors – a sold-out sale – ranging from mineral explorers, service companies and country consultants to mining technology companies. “I don’t see the same enthusiasm for gold and silver,” mainly due to macroeconomic issues such as the strength of the dollar.

Still, the conference drew the top executive of the world’s largest gold company, the CEO of Newmont Corp. Tom Palmer giving a keynote speech to a packed room on Tuesday. PDAC celebrated its third in-person industry conference this year.

“You can do so much on a videoconference,” Palmer said in an interview Wednesday. “But the interaction between people remains a very important element in influencing the culture and running our business.”

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