The annual meeting of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum is primarily an opportunity for Canadian miners to get together and share war stories, successes, and drinks. But is you listen carefully there are many fascinating technical tid-bits that may induce you to buy or sell shares in growing and/or failing mines.
I recognize that a few words from a panel presentation do not constitute a reasonable basis for judging the worth or merits of a mining company. Nevertheless, I offer these observations (that you may choose to consider in your own time) about Teck Cominco.
Their president and CEO, Don Lindsay was one of five presenters at the opening plenary session. He spoke with such sincerity and conviction underpinned by what to me seems like common sense, that I am inclined to go out and buy Teck Cominco shares even though I know that wise investors do not jump on the basis of first impressions at a conference.
First regarding his honesty: what other mining CEO when asked if the current rate of increase of consumption and provision by mines of the raw materials that underpin the consumption is sustainable, would answer with a simple: NO.
He noted the disproportion of dollars spent on exploration and the returns in terms of new ore body finds. He stated that unless as a society we reduce, reuse, and recycle, we may well run out. Sobering.
Here are three more optimistic things he said, that make me a potential buyer:
- Teck Cominco is not satisfied with anything other than zero accidents and to that end make every activity begin with a safety meeting and make every worker responsible to act if they see anybody doing anything that is potentially unsafe.
- Teck Cominco is committed to technology advance from e-waste operations to new hydrometallurgical processes to refine copper without producing sulfur dioxide.
- To continue to operate, Teck Cominco is focusing on human resources including their new program called Elements of Life and support of museums where Canadian politicians in Ottawa can go to see what mining is all about.
Each of these initiatives is in and of itself small, but cumulatively they go to make for a great company. They have their problems, but then so does every human endeavor, so check them out and decide for yourself where to put your money.