As most of you know, every year folks from around the world descend on the annual TMS convention to discuss the latest developments in petcoke, calcined coke and other raw materials. This year TMS is being held in San Diego. And each year, I run a live blog, describing the atmosphere and the latest gossip from around the corridors and coffee shops and bars.
As many of you also know, this year I have been banned from entering the US, because I went to Iran in 2014. Even though I have an Australian Passport, and Australians are allowed to enter the US using a Visa Waiver, my visa waiver has expired, and the US declined to give me a new one. Efforts to get a visa from the US embassy failed.
So here I am, reporting on TMS from a Starbucks coffee shop in Thailand. But I reckon, if the President of the USA can lie to his people and accuse the media who point out his lies as being fake media peddling fake news, then I have a perfect right to report the latest gossip free from any annoying details called facts.
So here goes.
TMS always starts a few days early, with an industry conference on petcoke and calcined coke. I can report there are at least 30 people at the conference, and at least one or two papers were given from people who do NOT work for the organizers. As in other years, there were many papers on cement and the power industry, but the audience really wanted to know more about China. The papers covering China proved to be the most important and generated the most questions.
Meantime, a survey of the crowd around the corridors and in the meeting rooms brought one important point into focus. TMS is no longer the drawcard it used to be, and that is best illustrated by the fact that one of the most important companies in the aluminum and raw materials space declined to send anyone to this year’s TMS. This is the same company that used to have 20-30 people attend. I recall presenting to them in San Diego in 2011. There were 26 people in the room, not including my team. But since this anonymous company split with its downstream business, management has taken a tougher approach to all cost items, including TMS.
TMS is not TMS without the regulars. In the lobbies of the main hotels at the top of each hour, groups of Chinese traders mingle with prospects, while old timers hail each other and comment about how it doesn’t seem like a year since the last TMS.
And then there’s the supplier party coming up on Monday night. Even though the event hasn’t even happened yet, I can report that Howie put on a majestic performance with the steel guitar, while Scott led the singing with his electric castanets. Who knew that Mariachi music could be so much fun? But there were some in the audience who seemed more interested in talking business instead of getting into the mood of the evening.
Anyone who disputes the facts in this report, I refer you to Kellyanne Conway, who can explain to you the definition of alternate facts.
A Happy TMS everyone.