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What If We Gave A Silver Summit And Somebody Came?

By: David Bond

-- Posted 4 September, 2009 | | Discuss This Article - Comments:

The Wallace Street Journal


Wallace, Idaho  This question rolled around our post-midnight table at the Smoke House in Wallace in July of 2003. What if we held a Silver Summit and somebody actually showed up?


It was a crazy idea. One mining CEO who was there for the conversation wanted to boost his personal fortunes by boosting the fortunes of the Silver Valley. Nothing un-altruistic about that. We found our way to the can, figuring that by the time we returned the conversation would have taken a less idiotic bent. It had not.


To which Shauna said, “Let us call it the Silver Summit.”


To which we replied: “You are crazy. You cannot organise an investment conference about silver mining stocks in this district eight weeks out and expect anybody to show up. Even the companies will tell you to piss off.”


But they didn't. Of the six we invited, eight showed up. They included Hecla, Coeur d'Alene Mines, New Jersey Mining, Mines Management, Kimberly Gold Mining, and Bunker Hill. David Morgan and Dr. Earl Bennett were our keynote speakers. We booked two conference rooms at the Coeur d'Alene Inn. I insisted that one be closed off from the other, so we wouldn't look half-empty. Turns out, with both rooms open, we were SRO. We were more than half-full.


We did a walk through the hotel the night before the one-day event. Would anyone really show up? Would the companies even keep their commitments? Then a couple walking through the lobby asked us, “Is this where the Silver Summit is supposed to be?” You could have knocked us both over with a feather. “Yeah,” we said, “This is it.” Then a nice guy from Ecuador showed up in the same lobby, and asked us, “Is this where the Silver Summit is?” Half a feather would have knocked us down that time. A third of a feather would have knocked us down, the following year, when this wonderful gentleman returned.


It was just supposed to be a little chit-chat about the silver mining companies of the Silver Valley. But a man from Paris who attends the Ludwig von Mises seminars as opposed to taking a real holiday said to us, that first year, “We need to talk about silver as money.” And the floodgates blew open. Yes indeed, we needed to talk about silver as money.


So we did. And the next year, word got out in Canada, Europe, South America and China that there was this little goofy conference focused on silver and hard money. Silver guys came out of the woodwork.  And some hard-money folks came to talk. By our third year, we were rubbing elbows with John Embry, Bill Murphy, and the other great brains of the hard-money movement. The Silver Summit had grabbed its own helm, and was steering us along a very interesting course. What was born on the back of a cocktail napkin seven years ago is now creating itself.


We owe much of The Silver Summit's success to those original companies, but also to the miners in Canada who saw an opportunity in the ensuing years to present themselves, and to spread the word about silver mining. Last autumn's crash in general equities notwithstanding, The Silver Summit's attendees have benefited immensely from following these companies. The Silver Summit has been a good thing for all who've participated. We also owe The Silver Summit's pre-eminence to a dedicated panel of sooth-sayers and market-watchers who believed in Shauna and me from Day One and never apologized.


We've waded into new waters again this year, moving The Silver Summit from Idaho to the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington. The Davenport was the original watering hole for silver miners worldwide, opening in 1914. For almost a century it served as host to the Northwest Mining Association's annual December convention before falling in to disrepair.  After a sad decade and a half's hiatus, during which it stared the wrecking-ball down the gullet more than a couple of times, the Davenport reopened in 2002 under the guiding hands of Walt and Karen Worthy.


Visit the Davenport's website and re-discover the America we used to love and people, like Walt and Karen Worthy, who made us love it. Mine canaries sing again in the lobby. The staff again washes the coins and the fednotes from its tills every night, albeit they're not made out of money now. How could we not take The Silver Summit there to its ancestral roots, back to a place where money-laundering was an honest occupation, not a government/Goldman-Sachs scam?


If The Silver Summit really had a beginning, beyond that crazy conversation in 2003, it was in a comment made to us by Phil Lindstrom, who was a senior veep at Hecla back during our tyro days as a mining journalist in the late 1970s. Said Mr. Lindstrom: “We mine money.”


So much of the American melodrama has changed over the past seven years. So much has changed in The Silver Summit as well. But come join us anyway. We are still mining money.

-- Posted 4 September, 2009 | | Discuss This Article - Comments:

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