Metals Economics Group (MEG) marks 2011 as a milestone-30 years as a leading provider of global mining industry information and analysis. It is celebrating the occasion with a new web presence, including an online store. Building on a (perhaps) “unmatched” level of historical data and essential current information, MEG continues to deliver increasingly powerful and comprehensive services that allow users to effectively address business-critical questions. Thirty years ago, the mining industry was much less information-oriented. Reporting of key competitive information, such as operating costs and exploration spending, was very spotty. Few companies had the research capacity to look at all the various print-based press releases and annual reports when they needed to compare projects, evaluate strategies, or look for opportunities.MEG started in 1981 with the objective of becoming the collector, analyser, and disseminator of the relevant worldwide information required to support planning and major strategic and tactical moves on the supply-side of the mining industry.But simply locating and reporting the raw data wasn’t sufficient.“We found that it was extremely important to not only be accurate about information but to pay very careful attention to context,” remarks MEG founder and CEO, Michael Chender. “It’s easy to throw around numbers and never realise you are comparing apples and oranges from one company or one project to the next. Carefully normalizing data such as that for reserves, costs, and spending is crucial for allowing efficient comparison of companies, projects, and activities.”MEG saw an opportunity with evolving personal computer capability and developed the MineSearch project database for use inside the company in late 1981. “When we started allowing client access to MineSearch in 1982, it was one of the first online databases in any industry. MineSearch sat on an IBM mainframe in Florida,” recalls Chender. “We had it on a time-sharing basis and would port information from our own smaller computers every month-information which our clients would then access through dial-up modems. When we showed a demonstration to a group of mining company librarians in Denver, nobody believed we were showing it to them live. They thought it was canned, simply because they had never seen an online database before.”With the advent of the World Wide Web, the whole landscape of information began to change. “Data and information became much more readily available and the noise-to-signal ratio rose quickly,” adds Chender. “Ensuring that client needs are met with information that is comparable and credible has remained as challenging as ever.”MEG migrated all its separate services to the Web a number of years ago and has been working for the past several years to migrate them all to a common interoperable platform, further leveraging the richness and depth of the data.Since its beginnings, MEG has used the information it collects to produce detailed analytical reports and studies. The Mine Development Monthly, later renamed the MEG Strategic Report, became MEG’s platform for providing insights into supply-side issues facing the global mining industry.As MEG’s industry knowledge expanded, consulting requests increased. Addressing specific requests helped MEG better understand how data was being used and what information was needed by the industry, and this resulted in the creation of numerous MEG products. Chender recalls how a few of those products came into being.“In 1989, we realised that companies were looking for information to benchmark their exploration activities. The key factor for companies was to understand what was going on in the field and what their peers were doing,” says Chender. “We began collecting information directly from the explorers, and the industry trusted us to be the brokers of this knowledge through MEG’s Corporate Exploration Strategies study.”Now in its 21st year, the Corporate Exploration Strategies study remains the industry’s only comprehensive source of detailed global exploration budgets and the acknowledged benchmark for exploration-related spending, strategies, and worldwide trends. MEG’s team collects and analyses exploration-related information from thousands of companies around the world, providing subscribers with both a global and a granular view of exploration strategies.Requests to evaluate acquisitions and exploration data resulted in MEG’s first study on comparing the costs of exploring vs acquiring-Reserves Replacement Strategies. The study provides a detailed examination of how, and at what cost, major companies are replacing their reserves of copper, gold, and nickel.“There are many assumptions around data-what a discovery is, when a discovery was made, what expenditures actually went into a discovery, whether the cost of acquisition includes future capital costs, etc.,” notes Chender. “We created a very sophisticated model so that our clients understand MEG’s definitions and reporting methodology. In addition to MEG’s analysis, the online tools that accompany our studies allow companies to apply their own assumptions to the data.”Continuous examination of client information needs led to the launch of the Industry Monitor in 2010. The bimonthly service assembles and collates exhaustive current data on exploration, development, financings, and acquisitions drawn from a number of MEG services.“The service reveals trends, provides an overview of where and how the whole supply pipeline is developing, and facilitates exploration of key strategic questions,” comments Chender. “Key indicators signal impending opportunities and industry shifts, allowing subscribers to makes forecasts and modify strategies.”MEG’s clients span the globe, including most major international mining companies, investment banks and fund managers, intermediate and junior mining companies focused on growth, service and equipment providers, governments, and consulting firms. The company has seen many changes and supported clients through many cycles.“Our success is measured by the thousands of users of our services who have gained competitive advantage and operational efficiencies, recognised windows of opportunities opening, and avoided threats sooner,” conveys Chender. “We work with our clients to understand their business objectives and to help them find the best solution for their specific needs.”MEG takes great pride in its experienced and knowledgeable team of analysts-combining a tremendous wealth of industry experience with fresh ideas from a new generation of geology-trained staff. MEG’s continuous development of its people, processes, and services are the foundation of the company’s success. Drawing on three decades of innovation and experience, MEG continues to deliver outstanding customer service and solutions in support of business goals, from exploration, development, and production to strategic planning and acquisitions.