Article – Diggers and dealers to shine

4 August 2014
Peter Klinger
The West Australian
This is it. It’s Diggin’ & Dealin’ time again as Kalgoorlie-Boulder welcomes 1900 blokes and three women, for mining’s biggest annual swim-through since the Poseidon nickel boom days in 1969.
For all the giggles about Diggers night-time activities, moaning and groaning about a dearth of news – half the companies presented published copies of their presentations to the ASX platform yesterday – and regular complaints that the organising committee is too inward looking, it remains Australia’s premier industry event.
And the awards handed out at the Wednesday night gala dinner come with a fair degree of prestige and no shortage of disappointment when those who thought they’d win do not.
It reminds the Bull of a Wednesday night incident a few years ago when there was what sounded like a massive explosion at the line-up of porta-dunnies outside the marquee where the awards dinner is held. Turns out one miner, dismayed at missing out on the awards, vented some of his big-fisted frustration on the inside wall of a dunny, to thundering effect.
There will be more disappointment this year though the Bull can’t guarantee a dunny wall punch-up.
It would be funny – though not undeserved – if Raleigh Finlayson’s Saracen Minerals Holdings won the gong for buying the Thunderbox mine in January.
Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill Holdings is regarded as a shoe-in for Dealer of the Year for that little matter of raising more than $7 billion on global debt markets in March to complete funding for the $10 billion namesake iron ore project in the Pilbara.
Rinehart’s family company Hancock Prospecting is a previous Dealer winner (2006, 2012) but then, her deals are getting bigger, too.
This may not please Billy “the Kid” Beament, who most will agree has pulled off a series of screamers to turn Northern Star Resources into a multi-mine gold industry leader.
And what about Tony Poli, thought to be a Diggers’ delegate, who managed to turn a 10-year effort with Aquila Resources into a $1.4 billion windfall for shareholders, including himself. It was the biggest buyout of a local miner since Kerry Harmanis (Dealer 2008) sold Jubilee Mines to Xstrata for $3.1 billion in 2007.
Mark Creasy also managed to do a decent deal, selling 30 per cent of Nova-Bollinger to Digger 2013 winner Sirius Resources in return for more stock and some cash.
And let’s not forget Mike Young, of BC Iron fame, who reckons he should get the gong for encouraging Andrew Forrest to invest in Youngie’s new vehicle, Energy and Minerals Australia.
The only gong Forrest and Fortescue Metals Group haven’t won is Digger, which could happen this year to reflect the company’s achievement of the 155 million tonne a year iron ore milestone.
The Digger certainly won’t go back to the inaugural winner, Joe Gutnick (1997), though a gold recipient – AngloGold Ashanti’s Tropicana which poured first gold in September, or maybe Allan Kelly’s Doray Minerals which poured first gold last August – is likely.
For all the criticism that Diggers chief and part-time skimpy John Langford and his awards committee cop each year for their choice of recipients – this year immortalised on an honour board inside the Goldfields Arts Centre – there are rarely grizzles about who gets the GJ Stokes Memorial gong for their contribution to the industry.
This year’s recipient should again be a worthy one.
Which leaves the media award, which the Bull is still trying to get Langers to rename The Bullduster.
Here’s to hope and a good Diggers & Dealers.
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Diggers - and dealers - to shine
Courtesy of the West Australian