For Mining Stocks, the Future's Bleak - Or, Maybe the Future's Brilliant

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George Rogers of Investec reckoned the sector may have already reached its bottom and that the best time to invest is when there is "blood on the streets" - metaphorically we hope! Equities are looking cheap and now may well be a very good time to invest, but one does need to be confident that those companies in which to invest are those with the financial strength to survive the bloodbath.

Speaking at this week's Global Capital conference in London - a reasonably well attended event which boasted some excellent and extremely interesting speakers - an unsurprisingly common theme was the effect the credit crunch is having on the fortunes of mining companies, both big and small, but particularly on the juniors.

Opening the event, Charles Kernot of Evolution Securities speaking on the ‘Future of the Mining Industry' (on the day that Xstrata announced that it was pulling out of its proposed bid for Lonmin over credit worries - but had still bought a substantial stake in the market), pointed out that the Eastern population growth patterns - notably in India and China, but also in many other countries - and the rapidly growing middle class, with typical middle class aspirations, would continue to support above average consumption growth. This, in turn, will filter down again into the minerals sector, notwithstanding the short term problems it is facing from the Western World's current sharp downturn...

The toxic debt situation which has created the current severe downturn, in which many undercapitalised mining and exploration companies may well not survive will not go away quickly and there is likely further grief to be face in the investment sector, but, Kernot averred, "Growth will return". We will face short term price declines still, but industrial prices will improve. He picked gold as the safest investment choice pointing out that London's influential Financial Times which is not known for its support of the yellow metal, seems to have recently "grudgingly accepted" this position too...

George Rogers of Investec reckoned the sector may have already reached its bottom and that the best time to invest is when there is "blood on the streets" - metaphorically we hope! Equities are looking cheap and now may well be a very good time to invest, but one does need to be confident that those companies in which to invest are those with the financial strength to survive the bloodbath...

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