Thursday 28th May 2020

Resource Clips

VRIC returns

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

by Greg Klein

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

Capacity crowds packed keynote speeches at VRIC 2018.


Described as the bellwether of junior mining for 25 years, the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference maintains that reputation by adapting its content to ever-changing times. The event returns January 20 to 21 with a busy agenda and new features to keep the Convention Centre buzzing with insights, perspectives and the always anticipated tips. With about 360 exhibitors and nearly 70 speakers signed so far, Jay Martin expects to see 8,000 to 9,000 attendees, a number that bodes well for the sector overall.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

Impromptu discussion brought together speakers,
company reps and investors at last year’s conference.

“I’m really happy with the advance registration—it’s above last year even though the market hasn’t been fantastic,” says the president/CEO of Cambridge House International. “But Q4 was really strong for gold compared to the Dow and the S&P, and gold stocks did relatively well.”

Although just one of many commodities to come under VRIC scrutiny, gold has regained its importance to market watchers. But Martin’s also excited about some new events scheduled this year, among them a competition that pits two of the best-known stock pickers against each other. Audience participation promises to make the contest even more unpredictable.

“When you walk into the Main Speaker Hall on Sunday morning, you’ll be handed a little electronic voting device, kind of like a cellphone but much simpler. Frank Holmes will open up with a 20-minute keynote and then we get into a battle between Frank Holmes and Marin Katusa with their top three stock picks. The companies get up and give a really quick six-minute pitch. Then we ask the audience to vote in real time on their top pick. The results go live on the big screen.

“Then we ask the audience a second question: ‘Which fund manager, Marin or Frank, would you trust with your money?’ That’ll really put some pressure on these guys.”

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

Of course the ultimate test will be the stocks’ subsequent performance. But another first for VRIC will be the iconoclastic Rex Murphy. Far beyond the narrow pale of Canadian journalism, the social and political commentator nevertheless is tolerated by the National Post and CBC, probably because he delivers his scathing pronouncements with such entertaining wit.

“He’s kind of an ambassador for the Canadian resource sector, he’s always been very outspoken in its defence,” Martin points out. “He’ll do a keynote and also sit on a panel to discuss the future of Canada’s resource economy and the junior mining sector. Rex has strong views on the resource sector although he doesn’t come from the industry. He’ll have a different perspective on how things work and how things will turn out.”

More iconoclasm, on the geopolitical front, will likely come from Jayant Bhandari who joins a roster of speakers including Katusa, Holmes, Gianni Kovacevic, Daniela Cambone and Brent Cook among other mining commentators, portfolio managers, newsletter writers, commodities analysts and company executives.

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

The latter category will be out in force at the Exhibit Hall too, representing 360 or more firms and ready to discuss their projects in person. Attendees can also sign up to meet CEOs over coffee in the Deal Room.

An exciting VRIC agenda and impressive pre-registration has Martin buoyant about the market’s prospects.

“I’ve been cautiously optimistic for a couple of years but there’s a lot going on right now that could suggest there’s going to be a rally,” he explains. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in the U.S. markets, more than we’ve seen since 2008, bigger corrections than we’ve seen since 2008, and historically we’ve seen investors trend towards hard assets and conservative investments, and that’s gold and gold stocks. We’re seeing that boost already. If you look at Kirkland, Newmont, the big gold producers, they had a great fourth quarter. No other big stocks did. That’s classic behaviour. If you look at the gold price in Q4, we haven’t seen that in a long time. I look at investor registration at gold conferences, public company treasuries and marketing spend, and I see an increase in all three of those. I’m seeing all the right things.”

As a result, he expects yellow metal to regain prominence. “At our last three or four events, energy metals were the biggest draw. What we’re seeing leading up to this show is that gold is taking that position. We’re getting more interest in our gold companies, speakers and features. I expect the gold topics, conversations and panels to be the best-attended of this event.”

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference turns opportunity into an event

The Vancouver Resource Investment Conference 2019 takes place January 20 to 21 at the
Vancouver Convention Centre West. To avoid the $30 admission fee, click here for free registration.

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