Edel Tully

By Edel Tully
Head of Communications, LBMA

The LBMA Conference has arrived and the time has come for the bullion community to once again make its annual pilgrimage. For 2009, the show takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland. The historic Balmoral Hotel provides the impressive backdrop for this year’s event from 1-3 November.

The Loch Ness monster is unlikely to reveal itself in the City of Edinburgh, but ghosts and goblins are liable to be out and about on the 31 October amongst those keen delegates, particularly the London contingent, who travel over the weekend to experience Halloween Scottish style.

The 2009 LBMA Conference was an unwitting victim of global financial circumstances and our initial conference location of Peru was deemed by many market members to be a stretch too far this year. After much consultation and debate, Edinburgh became our home and we are delighted to report that conference delegates have been as supportive of this annual event as in previous years. Due to such strong demand, we were forced to close registration on the 30 September and a waiting list was opened.

Unlike venues for past conferences, Edinburgh is not a dominant location in the precious metals industry map. Accepting that Scotland does not straight away stand out as a likely setting, it may surprise you to learn that the LBMA’s flock to Edinburgh will not be the first gold rush the region has experienced. No, that happened back in 1869. As an analyst, I fully appreciate Google’s abilities to unearth many interesting and largely unknown pieces of information!

So the summer clothes that would have been packed for Peru should suitably be replaced with umbrellas, raincoats, wellies and, in some cases, a hip flask. Yes, Edinburgh is calling and the LBMA conference once again promises to provide an apt forum for market participants to network and discuss the frontline issues in our market.

The LBMA executive has been busy planning and organising to ensure the 2009 event compares favourably with those of previous years. The Public Affairs Committee is charged with the task of putting together the Conference programme and many man-hours have been invested to ensure a quality line up of topics and speakers. The World Gold Council-sponsored Welcome Reception will signify the formal start to the 2009 proceedings on the 1 November.

The opening session on Monday marks the first formal address by the Association’s new Chairman, Kevin Crisp of Mitsubishi Corporation. The keynote speech this year will be delivered by Paul Mercier of the European Central Bank and will be followed by Michael Cross of the Bank of England in what will no doubt prove to be an intense, but informative kick start to proceedings.

The impact of the financial crisis on the precious metal’s industry takes centre stage thereafter and chairing of this session lies in the capable hands of Steve Lowe, Bank of Nova Scotia-Scotia Mocatta. From the producer sector, to jewellery, to refineries and fabricators, the fallout across world markets and its journey into our precious metals world will be analysed and dissected by the chosen speakers from AngloGold Ashanti, the WGC and PAMP.

The topic of the afternoon session – Precious Metals Investment – will no doubt draw a large crowd. With James Cross in the Chair, David McWilliams, an Irelan based economist with an international perspective, will set the scene for this gathering, with a macroeconomic and financial outlook for world economies and currencies. Stephen Mueller of Bank Julius Baer and Co. Ltd and Larry Hathaway of UBS will focus the lens more closely on the metals market through their respective analyses of the ETF investment vehicles and gold’s role as a portfolio diversified – two topics that have dominated market headlines and commentary over the past year.

Session 4 after lunch on Monday brings the PGM complex under the spotlight. At last year’s conference in Kyoto, this session proved to be one of the most popular. Therefore, with Edel Tully (yes, that’s your author) in the Chair directing the discussion, the future use of PGMs in the auto market from the view point of Johnson Matthey, the overview of the Chinese platinum market delivered by GFMS, and the perspective of the PGM investor arena provided by Redkite Capital Management LLP will, I hope, ensure another successful session for the PGM sector.

Ample networking opportunities will be available at the evening cocktail party, sponsored by the Silver Institute and LPPM, and of course, the Conference dinner. A piper will welcome delegates to the dinner venue and enforce the Scottish theme.

Silver is the early morning topic on Tuesday, led by Michael DiRienzo of the Silver Institute. Jessica Cross, James Steel and Roque Benavides will tackle the prospects for supply and demand, London’s role in the silver market, and mining in Peru. While the topical issues du jour will be dissected over the course of the two-day event, the real showdown will take place on Tuesday afternoon as the panel discussion chaired by Stephen Branton-Speak has the onerous task of debating the future of the London Precious Metals Market. This is your opportunity to ask the difficult but relevant questions so do make full use of the available technology and pose your questions to the speakers. Good luck to Phil Clewes-Garner, Raymond Key, and Kamal Naqvi!

John Reade, in his usual hot seat, will deliver the Conference summary which is one of the tougher jobs in the programme. Lunch will wrap up the 2009 Conference before delegates bid each other goodbye for another year.

As Chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee, I am very proud of the hard work invested by my fellow committee members and the LBMA executive. In reality it is some time since the LBMA staged a ‘winter’ extravaganza, but the weather in Scotland should not dampen spirits at the Conference. Go forth and enjoy, or as the Scots say, Ceud Mìle Fàilte – or “a hundred thousand welcomes”.