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Thoughts on mining in Latin America

It’s Tricky

This has been a very busy week, and curiously, one in which I have revisited old haunts.

I am in New York to cover the SME mining finance event and then to participate in the Mines & Money New York event where I will be moderating a couple of sessions including the keynote session.

I used to work in New York for Metal Bulletin (1999-2001) and that really set the bug for working and living away from home and visiting mines in far flung corners of the world. That was almost twenty years ago now and looking back it has been a career that has taken me from Death Valley to a salt mine under one of the Great Lakes, to Polaris Island north of the Arctic Circle on an icebreaker to the jungles of northern Vietnam, from Bingham canyon to Chuquicamata and finally to Colombia.

This week I also visited Continental Gold’s Buritica project to get an update about the mine development and exploration plans. I worked for Continental in the last decade and that was the reason I moved to Colombia in the first place. I have visited Buritica many times since and it continues to amaze me how far the project has advanced since 2008, looking less like the pokey small-scale mine run on a shoestring that it was and taking steps ever closer to becoming the large-scale modern mine that it will be. Anyway, read about Buritica’s progress in CGL #69 to be published on Monday 1st May.

President Donald Trump said he would review all the national monuments created by his predecessor and threatened to unprotect protected areas to not restrain business, namely mining, farming and ranching. In an interview with The Guardian, he said he thought “being president would be easier”. Checks and balances exist for a reason, mate.

Whilst I am pro-mining, this move concerns me as parts of the environment should be protected and whilst I can understand there may be a need to mine for scarce minerals, what gives with farming and ranching? In a broader context, president Trump has highlighted that at the end of the day, national parks are legal constructs that are created by a signature and can be swept aside the same way.

In news this week, the one that jumped out is Sandstorm taking over Mariana Resources for the Hot Madden project in Turkey. I interviewed Sandstorm CEO Nolan Watson for Mining Journal at the PDAC in March and he said he wants to get the company’s market cap over $1 billion and this could be the deal that does it, once the market gets over the premium he is paying.

Closer to my turf, my feature article on Central America was published in Mining Journal, which was an interesting and at times disturbing piece to research.

The curious case of Eco Oro Minerals came to an unexpected landmark when instead of holding a special shareholders meeting, a British Columbia court disagreed with the Ontario Securities Commission and the meeting was adjourned. In short, a dissident group of shareholders disagrees with how management and the board have organized to take the Colombian government to arbitration in a dispute. It amazes me that the company still has a market cap of over C$50 million.

Good grief: Gran Colombia Gold rolled back its shares again, but that is such a periodic occurrence that it is hardly news.

Stop press: AngloGold Ashanti will halt work at its 28Moz La Colosa gold deposit it which it has invested close to US$400M to date. This move will put additional pressure on the government to emplace an effective mechanism to synchronism national and local government that is currently lacking.

If AGA is definitively blocked from progressing La Colosa it may well have good grounds to follow the lead of Eco Oro and file notice of a dispute with the government, which has the potential to be more costly to the government. The decision is also costly to the community of Cajamarca as 300-400 people will be laid-off. Maybe absence will make hearts grow fonder once the absence of the positive contributions AGA makes to the community are felt. As president Trump is showing, a yes today could be a no tomorrow and vice versa.

That’s all from the Big Apple and so to bring this all together and finish off, here’s Run DMC and It’s Tricky.

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