Montreal Investment Conference, Day 2

Montreal, Quebec – As Friday's affairs here wound down for the first day of the Cambridge House Conference Investir, as the French say it, a thought: at approximately the same size as CH's October Silver Summit in Spokane, the Montreal gathering has a pleasant level of intimacy on both the convention floor and in the speakers' and workshop rooms. It's not the mob scene that will happen in January in Vancouver, when everyone who is anyone turns up just to find out how the competition survived 2011.

After-hours was a delight, running into old friends, like fellow walleye fisherman and Metanor CEO Serge Roi, or fellow target-shooter and Dumasbancorp CEO Franc Dumas, both life-long Quebecois, to start with a few we hadn't seen in awhile. Dollar Vigilante Jeff Berwick held court puffing on one of those electronic cigarettes that we nicotine fiends are able to use in places where smoking is banned, while the older hands met with companies looking for private placements and the like. A fine energy is in the air; we did manage to get through 2011, licking off yet more of the wounds inflicted during the Big Crash of three years, there are opportunities galore, and 2012 looks to be a kick-arse year for the metals and resource sector.

An old hand we'd not met but certainly have followed with admiration over the years, Reg Howe of the Golden Sextant, who calls Montreal home part-time (his other home near Boston), regaled us with mining stories and tales of motorcycle rides across the wilds of Newfoundland.

It was enough to shake off some of the doom and gloom inflicted during the day concerning the sad state of fiat currencies and the Western economies. But Thom Calandra, back on the circuit these days, said there's big action to be had if you're willing to “ignore geopolitical risk,” taking his audience on a slide-show tour of mining districts in Africa and South America. Kitco's Scott Gibson walked us through some interesting stock tips, including one in this writer's neck of the woods. Victor Goncalves, after humorously describing the “European basket-case, a friendly version of communism where people don't get shot,” sees a ton of mergers and acquisitions in the offing, as senior miners running out of reserves scoop up promising juniors, giving investors in the latter sector probably their best leverage to metal prices. “Producers,” he astutely noted, “are terrible explorers.”

And don't forget the rare-earth sector, either, intoned Michael Berry. It's hard to go wrong with exploration plays when the U.S. is importing 100 percent of 18 critical metals, as meanwhile 3 billion new folks joining the middle class and doubling the automobile fleet by 2030 will put added pressure on the sector. The aforementioned Berwick gave his light-hearted, yet gut-wrenching presentation on the dismal state of the Euro, the U$Dollar, the Swiss Franc and the Canadian buck. Turns out Canada has a mere 3.4 tonnes of gold left backing what's left of the Loonie. Not even Gordon Brown would be jealous of the price Canada got for the yellow metal in decades past.

One good thing about the Montreal show is that half the doom and gloom is presented in French, so an English-only listener only hears half of what he ought to be worrying about.

More later today. Meantime, we are enjoying the clear and relatively balmy weather here, having left a blizzard and single-digit temps in Wallace, Idaho, just a few days ago.

Article by David Bond