The process of preparing the list proved to be an interesting exercise because of the various insights it gave me into the industry at present.
My first task was to list all of the metals and mining companies listed on the ASX and then determine contact details for them. Without the benefit of something like SNL Metals and Mining database, this is a tedious process. Having obtained a listing of the GICS group, Metals and Mining, I set about locating contact details for each company. This was done by searching for each company using Google and then trying to locate a contact email address for those for whom I did not already have one.
Bergin's first law of email address discovery is, the larger the company the less likely it is that you will find a general enquiry contact email address, the best that you can hope for is an investor relations person.
It appears that the junior mining and exploration companies are; in the most part, more generous with their contact details, in a few cases I even found the MD/CEO/Chair providing their company contact email address. Greatly appreciated.
There were a few companies for whom I found it completely impossible to locate an email address and deleted these from my list. Whilst they may be glad that they avoided my survey, they might be less keen on avoiding potential investors!
If I can offer some device to those seeking email contacts for mining companies or perhaps any listed company, my routine is as follows. Do the obvious first and go to "contact us", if this is unsuccessful the "corporate directory" is sometimes helpful. My next stop is the last quarterly report and failing that the last annual report or sometimes company presentation. There were a number of instances where the only place that an email address was listed was in the annual report.
So apart from becoming very deft at finding contact details, what else did I discover in the course of my list compilation?
Perhaps the first thing to mention is that I used Excel’s sort feature to rank companies by market capitalisation. Based on this criteria producers started to peter out by the time I got to the high 50’s and low 60’s in my sorted list. I suppose that this is to be expected with producers who are struggling intermingling with explorers/developers who are about to commence construction or production and for whom the market rates their chances of success well.
David Flanagan would probably not be surprised to find Atlas ranking in the mid-60’s and indeed he may well consider this to be a good outcome. Takeover target Aditya Birla found themselves another 10 slots lower. Surprisingly, they were only three spots lower than the other current takeover target Phoenix Gold Ltd.
Mincor Resources and Mineral Deposits will no doubt be very peeved at their ranking in the low 90’s, but perhaps the standout anomaly for me was Millennium Minerals which was found somewhere around the 240‘s! Well below many an exploration company with a geological theory or three, a twinkle in their eye and barely a moth in their wallet. Perhaps we should all be piling into Millennium because there only seems to be one way that this company can go based on recent production performance. They were however trumped by Straits Resources, who came in around the 300 mark.
My list compilation terminated at around 300 of the just under 600 companies listed in this GICS grouping; excluding those whose shares are currently suspended. By this stage, inspection of their last Appendix 5B indicated that most had $200,000 or less in the bank and probably wouldn't be looking for any hired help!
There were a couple of other observations that gave me a little chuckle along the way. There were a couple of companies who obviously believe in keeping it all in the family with the surnames of a couple of directors being identical, surely not a coincidence? I won't name names but some of you at least will know the companies concerned.
I found it interesting the number of companies that have either "Mines" or "Mining" in their company title, yet when one looks at their website it becomes apparent that these names are aspirational. I guess that there is something to be said for reminding people what we are all striving for, others less generous, might term it misleading.
Perhaps another observation is the number of companies that have only the minimum required three directors, often with one of those being an executive director. There were a few companies who had no executives and only non-executive directors. Both structures a reflection of the severely constrained availability of cash at present and the need to minimise expenditure wherever possible, especially for those with little near term prospect of revenue.
And finally the position titles that people have given themselves or perhaps were bestowed upon them, gave me the odd wry smile, particularly the gentleman who was listed as "Executive Director & Chief Operating Officer", .............of an exploration company. Okay, if you want to be pedantic one could view “operating” a drill rig as meeting the criteria, but I always take it to imply production, and I don't mean of drill core. There was also the "Executive Chairman, Managing Director & CEO". Quite a mouthful. Personally I would have thought Executive Chairman would have said enough.
As I said at the beginning, you are more than welcome to participate in my sentiment survey and if you would like to do so, please click on the link below.