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August 15, 2010

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Oriental Mining Club strikes gold

CHINA'S thirst for natural resources to sustain its unstoppable growth has ensured it will have the full attention of the world's mining industry for many decades to come.

The country's need for stuff out of the ground has boosted resource-rich nations' economies and stimulated growth in exploration on the back of the potential for continuing demand.

By mining the appeal of Shanghai's continuing World Expo, veteran local businessman Peter Arkell has used his relatively new entity, the Oriental Mining Club, to lure one of the global industry's major conferences later on August 19.

The visit of the Melbourne Mining Club, which Arkell calls the OMC's "big brother," will bring to Shanghai as keynote speakers such industry luminaries as Tom Albanese, CEO of the mining behemoth Rio Tinto, and Zhou Zhongshu, a native of Jiangsu Province and president of China Minmetals Corporation.

"The Expo gave us the context to invite the MMC and use the strength of its track record and brand to attract such prominent industry leaders," the gregarious Arkell said.

"I think the choice of speakers is just the right tone to strike and with the global focus of the Chinese and the importance of the China market for foreign companies, it's a pretty exciting prospect for the OMC as a forum."

The OMC started last year after it had been kicked around as an idea for a couple of years by Arkell and Auslan Ishmael of China International Mining Group (CIMG).

Chairman Arkell knows that opportunities for the international and Chinese mining communities to get together are rare although there is a China Mining Association (CMA) for the Chinese and the CIMG for the international community.

"These are fairly formal bodies that represent their constituencies, present White Papers to the government, conduct conferences and generally operate as professional industry bodies," he said.

"The OMC has a much less formal structure confined to about 100 people that aims to bring together both sides of the community in an informative social environment.

"It's not just about the miners, but the extended community that drives the sector, so we welcome traders, bankers, consultants, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, even lawyers to OMC events. The common interest is the mining industry in this region, China in particular," he added.

Arkell views the August event as a key point in the development of the fledgling OMC in China.

"The name 'Oriental' was chosen deliberately so that this could be a forum across the region and not tied to any particular city," he said.

"So far we've had events in Beijing and Shanghai, the most recent in Shanghai being the return of Chip Goodyear to China for his first industry speech anywhere since leaving BHP Billiton."

The OMC's focus is the China mining industry first and then the global industry. Its foreign participation is strongly Canadian and Australian interests, balanced by Chinese representation. Others come from Europe, Africa and South America.

In his day job, Shanghai-based Arkell is managing director for Asia of Swann Global, a human resources company focused on the global mining/metals sector that he brought to China eight years ago.


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