RBC Capital Markets analysts Cailey Barker and Des Kilalea wrote that attendance was down about 30% this year, and most participants seemed "resigned to the global state of affairs" as they sought some new investment opportunities.
Predictably, gold dominated the conference. The analysts wrote that there was some mixed sentiment on just how high gold could go, but even the traditional bears were upbeat.
Another big theme at the conference was M&A, which has started to pick up in recent weeks.
With the juniors struggling to survive and cash-strong producers, it is likely that consolidation will remain a strong topic throughout 2009. As usual, however, it will likely be difficult to pick through valuation expectations.Of all the government presentations at the conference, the one that got the most attention was, as usual, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The analysts wrote that despite positive words from the government, investors remained skeptical that the risk is gone. However, there was also a "general feeling" that most of the damage is already done.