Participants in the recent BMO Global Metals & Mining Conference were more upbeat on industrial metals than precious metals, the bank reports. BMO analysts late Wednesday released results of a poll conducted during the conference. There were more than 800 participants in the survey, including responses from all major groups of conference attendees. “We believe it provides an insightful snapshot of corporate and investor views on the mining sector,” the analysts said. “Both investor and corporate attendees overwhelmingly agreed that the more constructive outlook lies with the industrial metals, with over 83% of investors and 76% of corporates indicating that industrial metals have the greater case for investment,” BMO reported. In the case of precious metals, investors are still focused on growth and execution of plans, BMO said. Analysts cited survey responses during presentations made by major producers Barrick Gold Corp., Goldcorp Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp.  The responses “suggest that many investors continue to focus on production profiles, advancing growth projects, and growing reserves and resources, particularly ABX [Barrick], where two-thirds of investors are focused on maintaining and growing production levels,” BMO reported. In the case of Goldcorp, investors’ focus is on the company’s execution of its so-called 20/20/20 plan and growth projects, BMO said. Goldcorp has publicly stated a goal for a 20% increase in gold production, 20% increase in gold reserves and 20% reduction in all-in sustaining costs by 2021. In the case of Newmont, “deployment of free cash flow remains topical” to investors, BMO added. Meanwhile, for large-capitalized diversified companies, investors had no mandate for growth but supported mergers and acquisitions and debt reduction. “Both investors and corporates overwhelmingly indicated that the priority for FCX [Freeport-McMoRan Inc.] management remains the resolution of negotiations in Indonesia,” BMO said. The company is in talks with the government over the future of its giant Grasberg copper-gold mine. Analysts said the poll showed “lots of interest” in blockchain technology, although participants appeared uncertain about the impact. “The majority of investors reportedly understand blockchain technology, but far fewer appear to understand the potential impact on their business,” BMO said. “Among corporates, the split is even between attendees who reportedly understand the technology, and those who do not.”