A new mining investment rule: One strike plus and out

She worked on the Pebble Mine exploration program a long time ago–more than twenty year ago.  Her theory, based on personal experience. is that the mine will never be.

Why?

She says that the grade is just too low to justify the enormous expense of constructing support facilities for so low a grade an ore deposit.   Plus the ore body is in the wrong place at the wrong time.   Just above Bristol Bay where there is a sustainable fishery industry.   Why mess with assured returns when the ore body, albeit big, is of low grade?

I am no expert in judging ore grades versus mine development costs.  But when the rich and the poor come together in opposing a project, you have so unusual a situation that you must think again.

Her theory is that a mine can come to be if it has but one thing against it; but two things against it, and it is doomed to failure.

Consider Pebble: low ore grade; concerted opposition; destruction of sustainable resources; politics in DC; and abandonment by Anglo.  She says that Anglo must have finally realized that the cost of building state-of-the-art infrastructure just could not be paid for by a low-grade ore deposit.

Just like that Rio Tinto project in Mongolia.   Did you see the picture of the dignitaries in front of bags of concentrate destined for a smelter in China where they are charging a premium to make product?  Nobody talks of the cost of bagging concentrate, transporting concentrate, or of processing the stuff via a monopoly contract.   Just too embarrassing and too bad for investment dreams.

Sad stuff for investors.  But then somebody has to provide the money for dreamers to dream.  If it moves, or seems to have the potential to move: INVEST.

Who cares about the fundamentals?  The leaders of the herd must be right!  Right?

WRONG as recent events prove.

But what the hell? Gambling is fun, and you might strike it rich before the herd exits the so-called opportunity.

This is gloomy stuff.  But pretty important if you are investing.  So the lessons learnt are these:

  • Do not follow the herd.
  • if there are two strikes, you are out.
  • If the grade is low, go elsewhere.

It needs far more expertise than I have to examine these rules.   But they are good enough for me. Examine them for yourself, and decide.

Tell us how you decide.

By Jack Caldwell at ITHINKMINING.com

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