The SME meeting in Salt Lake City kicked into top gear this morning with a magnificent and insightful Keynote address by Douglas B. Silver, Chariman and CEO, International Royalty Corporation, Engelwood, Colorado. Magnificent in that for nearly two hours he kept the filled hall enthralled with a witty, entertaining talk about the mineral supercycle, past, present and future. Insightful in that he captured in his talk all the issues, hopes, and fears of miners, mine investors, and the public affected by mining.
We will have to await publication of his talk as a paper in the SME magazine–and don’t miss it when it comes out. Here are but a few of the many points he made that stuck in my mind:
- We are in a mining Supercycle driven by Chinese demand and a world-wide growing middle class.
- China is a friend to the mining industry right now in that it is soaking up materials and driving a supercycle from which we can all prosper.
- Nobody can predict the future, but purchase of the sub-Saharan mining industry by government-controlled Chinese mining companies could lead to their provision of “political” support to African governments–the kind of thing the British did at the height of Empire.
- Reduction of demand by the aging baby-boomers could depress the North American mining industry, although this might constitute a necessary and welcome cooling-off period.
- We should recognize that anti-mining NGOs are but a symptom of a deeper reality: the world is reaching it people-carrying-capacity, space for living and recreating is dwindling, and people are predictably concerned about use of the land where they live and recreate.
- The Catholic Church is anti-mining; but out of respect for peoples’ faith, he would comment no further.
Nor do I, as I am off to the afternoon sessions.