The San Francisco Hard Asset Investment Conference.

Attending the San Francisco Hard Asset Investment Conference last month, I learned that the people who inhabit this world are different from you and I.

They camp in remote, mosquito infested swamps, risking hepatitis or dysentery, or suffer 100 degree below zero temperatures in the frozen wastelands of the north. The mines in which they toil present dangerous and claustrophobic working conditions in unbearably hot deserts and stifling jungles. They do this in the world’s most corrupt countries where they will happily expropriate your holdings and throw you in fetid, stinking jails if the required “consulting fees” go unpaid.

They do all of this so when you shake their hardened, calloused hands with red dirt under their fingernails, and you look into their darkly tanned faces, they can tell you with the sincerity of a religious zealot that the value of their metal, ore, mines, exploration rights, or stock price are about to take off like a rocket.

Perhaps it was appropriate that gold (GLD) tacked on $180 since the last conference in the spring, which explained why so many of the visitors seemed to be floating by on a cushion of air. Everyone wore better tailored, suits, cleaner shirts, and sharper haircuts. These were the hardcore faithful who suffered a 20-year bear market in hard assets, and even hung on during the dark days when gold plumbed the depths to $260/ounce in 1999, and were now witnessing the second coming.

The conference was one of the most satisfying I attended this year. I spent half the time signing programs for enthralled visitors who spotted my conspicuous Mad Hedge Fund Trader nametag.

The gold and silver coin dealers were there in force with their usual patter and free lotteries. There were a number of new Canadian mining companies raising money for an IPO or a secondary on the back of their latest findings in the field. The uranium and yellow cake producers were waxing eloquent about the nuclear power boom in China and the coming renaissance in the US.

What I heard from the other attendees was fascinating. At least 30 others told me they sold all their real estate in 2004-2005 and poured the proceeds into hard assets, which have since doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.  I received no end of tips about better-than-expected assay results from exploratory core drillings in British Columbia, Chile, and Gambia. I steered clear of the booths staffed by hotties who clearly had more firsthand knowledge of silicon, than gold, silver, copper, or uranium.

All in all, it gave a great overview on many key commodities and precious metals that are in long-term bull markets. There are few sure things in life, but one for me is that I will be attending the next Hard Asset Investment Conference in New York during May 13-14, 2013 (click here for the link), which is free for all comers.

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