Beaty optimistic on Mexico ahead of cross-Canada bike trip to Greenstone mine opening

Equinox has poured first gold at Greenstone. Credit: Equinox Gold

Mexico’s new leader is an improvement while Canada should be careful in blocking Chinese investment, according to Ross Beaty, the Canadian Mining Hall of Famer who founded Pan American Silver (TSX: PAAS; NYSE: PAAS) and Equinox Gold (TSX: EQX; NYSE-AM: EQX).

Voters elected Claudia Sheinbaum, a climate scientist, as Mexican president on June 2 to replace the outgoing Andres Manuel López Obrador. She’s expected to continue his policies that have de-facto banned open-pit mining. But she may have a less rigid approach, said Beaty of the country where Pan American operates two mines.

“Sheinbaum is much more pragmatic, understands nature perhaps more, and understands climate and perhaps won’t be as radical,” Beaty said by phone this week in Vancouver.

“The former president was a kind of an older generation person. He didn’t believe in climate change, he didn’t want renewable energy, he didn’t want private sector development and he had a dislike for certain Mexican companies in the mining industry.”

Beaty spoke as he was preparing for a cross-Canada fundraising bicycle relay from Vancouver to Equinox’s Greenstone gold project at Geraldton in northern Ontario. Riders should finish the epic 3,634-km journey in time to open the mine in August.

Hospital funding

The pedal-powered trip will benefit the Geraldton District Hospital, just five minutes from the mine. More than C$1 million has already been raised or pledged. The hospital serves 2,767 km sq. of Northern Ontario, including five Indigenous communities and the mine’s workforce.

“We’ve got a lot of keen cyclists in the company, and there’s a lot of keen cyclists in the mining industry and the brokerage industry here in Vancouver,” said Beaty, an avid cyclist planning to participate. “This ride celebrates good health and teamwork, and it may even catch some Canadians’ attention.”

Cyclists from Equinox Gold’s sites in California, Mexico and Brazil will join the relay and organize local events to raise money for charities in their regions. So far, the company has attracted sponsorships and aims to gather more support from vendors, contractors and industry leaders.

Other industry players, such as Barrick Gold (TSX: ABX; NYSE: GOLD) CEO Mark Bristow in his former Randgold Resources days, regularly undertook multi-week motorbike adventures visiting mines and sites across Africa, all in aid of local charities.

The cyclists are to start their journey on August 5 from the company’s head office in Vancouver. Daily progress updates will be available on Equinox’s social media channels and the Ride to Greenstone website.

The Greenstone mine, which poured its first gold on May 22 and hosted Ontario Premier Doug Ford and First Nations during an event at the mine Thursday, is set to become the company’s flagship asset. It aims to produce about 400,000 oz. gold per year for the first five years and average 360,000 oz. annually over its 14-year life.

Equinox, which has eight gold mines in the America, recently bought out its former 40% partner at Greenstone, Orion Mine Finance.

Government overreach

On the Canadian front, Beaty backs the government’s efforts concerning the domestic energy transition and approves of its support for increased critical minerals processing in Canada. He discussed the government’s efforts to restrict Chinese investment in the exploration sector, which he sees as excessive.

This week, the Canadian government arranged a C$3 million sale of stockpiled rare earths from Vital Metals’ (ASX: VML) Nechalacho project in the Northwest Territories to the Saskatchewan Research Council. The move replaced China’s Shenghe Resources as the buyer. Two years ago, Ottawa ordered China to divest from three Canadian critical mineral companies even though their projects were abroad.

“I’m a little nervous about the Canadian government’s desire to restrict Chinese investment in the exploration industry where it’s carried out away from Canada,” Beaty said. “That seems to me a bit of an overreach.”