The drinking holes and quiet streets of historic gold mining hub Kalgoorlie-Boulder were yesterday stampeded on cue by thousands of suit-clad mining delegates ready to wheel and deal over the coming days.
No longer a teenager, the annual Diggers and Dealers conference has in its 20th year grown into an industry beast heralded by some as one of the most important meet and greets for miners, explorers and prospective financiers in the Southern Hemisphere.
WAtoday.com.au's Rania Spooner will be on the sidelines with regular updates on the twists, turns and musings of the increasingly colourful three day event.
Despite early speculation this year's gathering would struggle to attract the numbers and big names that have made it a staple on the minerals conference scene, 2400 delegates have signed on and more than 30 companies are scheduled to present on their projects and prospects.
At a time when miners are closely eyeing global markets, former International Monetary Fund managing director Rodrigo de Rato is suitably scheduled to give the conference's key note address.
Some notable late comers to the heavy presentation run list may be particularly keen to raise capital and explain some share price slides after a volatile year for many key commodities.
With a suite of prominent iron ore players lined up to present including Fortescue Metals Group, Atlas Iron, BC Iron and Cliffs Natural Resources, the future or non-future of the boom commodity may be a heated topic.
Australian staples of gold, copper and nickel would also be well represented with headliners, locals and emerging powers ready to talk and deal.
Although in recent years Diggers has taken a political turn, the major talking points this year could be far more market focused, according to the Deloitte's Diggers and Dealers edition of the WA Index, which charts the movements of the mining state's 100 top listed companies.
The market capitalisation of WA listed companies has had its steepest decline in the financial year ending June 30, since that seen during the global financial crisis, Deloitte announced today.
Deloitte WA managing partner Keith Jones said falling commodity prices and the concerns about global growth were likely drivers of the 23.2 per cent fall to AU$140.7billion.
But Mr Jones added there had been a 343 per cent cumulative increase in WA stocks over the past 12 years, which suggested "strong underlying growth", in a statement.
Gold, the traditional bread and butter commodity of conference host Kalgoorlie-Boulder, was still glittering the brightest for the mining sector with an increase of 5.7 per cent through the year, while all other prices had "fallen substantially", he said.