The mining industry has changed
This Year’s PDAC Speaks Volumes About the Big Trends in Commodities
The mining industry has changed in the last few years.
In 2012, when I attended the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto, most of the companies were gold miners. PDAC is one of the world’s largest mining conferences. It attracts, on average, around 35,000 attendees. It’s gigantic.
Those were fun conferences back in the day, but if I wanted to talk to any other metal miner, it took some searching. The ratio of gold to other metals back then was near 10 to 1.
I’ve attended at least 12 PDAC’s through the years. And the bulk of the companies have tended to be gold, then silver, with a mixture of copper, nickel, and platinum group metals.
My last PDAC was in 2019… until this year.
And this year’s conference was completely different. There were still a lot of gold miners, but the ratio was off. Companies like this one were common:
There were whole rows of battery metal companies – lithium, uranium, rare earths, manganese, and nickel. And the ratio of gold companies to other metals was more like 2 or 3 to 1. That’s a huge difference.
That tells us a lot about the future of mining.
We need these battery metals if we are going to continue to move away from fossil fuels. But batteries are just empty buckets. They need to be filled with energy. And those windmills, solar panels, and nuclear power plants all also need lots of metals. Copper, uranium, aluminum, and steel will be the biggest players.
This will be a decade of metal – mining, recycling, and conservation.
But make no mistake, higher prices are coming. Today, the copper price gets all the headlines. News reports like these are common right now:
I’m giving a talk at the Investment U conference in Ponte Vedra Florida next week. I’ll be talking about the looming shortage of copper, considering the looming demand.
However, there are many opportunities in electric metals today, not just copper.
The bull market in metals is coming because the transition to electricity is underway. That was my takeaway from PDAC.
Numbers to Know
The production of minerals, such as graphite, lithium and cobalt, could increase by nearly 500% by 2050 (The World Bank)
How much copper is used in the construction of a single 3 mw wind turbine. New clean energy can be very mineral intensive. Wind, solar and batteries all required large amounts of minerals. Check out this infographic on how much. (The World Bank)
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) produces an estimated 70% of the world’s cobalt. But this is coming at cost to the DRC. (ABC News)
What’s New in Sustainable Investing
Sweden finds Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals
Swedish mining company LKAB discovered one million metric tons of rare earth oxides, which are used in electric vehicles and wind turbines. (CNBC)
First there was “Green Washing” now we have “Green Bleaching”
Green bleaching is a term coined to describe financial market participants choosing not to claim ESG features of their products in order to avoid extra regulation and potential legal risks. (Financial Times)
Video Of The Week
Sure there is “New Mining” but let’s not kid ourselves, there is a lot that still needs to change
Unreported World investigates the dirty business of cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo