Biblitz delivers advise

ASK Biblitz about Gold Mining.

Columbus himself was clear about his dual motivation: Whoever possesses gold can acquire all that he desires ... with gold he can gain entrance to paradise.

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Friends tell me to invest in gold, but I'm scared of another Bre-X-type scandal (see below right). Any tips on how to interpret the excess of data on Canada's junior explorers?

Biblitz replies:

The smart money, in my view, is on a $19-report by, - the first, suggesting there will be others - on Rubicon Minerals, which examines Rubicon's (RBY, RMX.TO) valuation based on its rather promising Phoenix project. The report provides anticipated reserve and resource estimates plus a projected fair market stock price, a due diligence checklist and more - all based on the company's non-numeric resource disclosures. The crux of the report is this: With a recent market capitalization of C$800M but no National Instrument (NI) 43-101 resource disclosures, the question is whether Rubicon is a great short or a good long position.

What the significance of the (NI) 43-101 report in the case of Rubicon to investors?

In the absence of the (NI) 43-101 report, Rubicon is legally precluded from discussing numerical estimates of the gold deposit. The company's unique approach has been to to focus instead on still more exploration and pre-development and on non-numeric disclosures. What's more, although Rubicon described itself as recently as May, 2010 as an exploration company, it has clearly stated its intention to begin production at Phoenix project in 2012! Indeed, the production green light is expected to be announced in Q1 2011. What do they and GoldMinerPulse know, one wonders? Currently, Rubicon boasts a 330m shaft, a 500 tonne/day hoist, tailings pond, and excellent infrastructure in the area, which is a brown field mining region with continuous gold mining since the 1940s. The Red Lake mining camp today is among Canada's richest gold-producing regions. By the 4th quarter of 2010, Rubicon expects to complete a 450m drift into the heart of the Phoenix F2 zone, a well-defined, high-grade zone with excellent widths, strike and vertical extent. The shaft and tunnel into the heart of the F2 Zone are expected to be production-ready. At the 2010 AGM Webcast, CEO David Adamson described the Rubicon valuation potential using references to Goldcorp's Red Lake mine.

Take a tour of Red Lake, Ont. with singer-songwriter Shy-Anne Hovorka, a local girl:

The GoldMinerPulse report assumes readers are familar with the Rubicon 2010 AGM Webcast available at the company's Web site, and with Goldcorp's Red Lake Mine, a doozy that recalls John Huston's film classic with Humphrey Bogart, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Here, famously is what good miners know:

An inspiring snapshot of Goldcorp's progress in the same mining district as Rubicon's Phoenix project:

Mining is primarily carried out at the site using underground cut and fill techniques, which extracts the maximum ore content with the least dilution. Red Lake has a high-grade, narrow vein system. The complex geometry of the ore body requires various mining cut and fill methods, operations that are specified for the unique circumstances of the site. The processing facilities at Red Lake consist of three separate plants: the Crushing Plant, Processing Plant, and Pastefill Plant. The Crushing Plant consists of a two-stage process that reduces underground ore size (12 inches to 3/8 inch). The ore is fed to the jaw crusher and then the sizing screen. The implementation of innovative mining techniques, as well as improvements and refinements to other areas of the operation, has been the key to the success of the Red Lake Complex. Goldcorp has implemented the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technology for mine design and planning purposes, and has recently built a state-of-the-art VR studio on site.

Overall, the mines at Red Lake offer Goldcorp exciting prospects, with the combination of both the Red Lake operations and the Campbell mines showing compelling operational and exploration possibilities. Underground connections of the mines give access to new exploration platforms. The merger also provides an opportunity for Goldcorp to lower operating costs, which means lower grade ore can be mined profitably.

Between the Red Lake Gold mine's dual complexes, the site produced 629,000 ounces in 2008. However, as Mike Lalonde, general manager of the mine, explains, the Red Lake camp is set to accomplish much more in the coming year. (From Red Lake Goldcorp. accessed online June 23/10)

What expertise, if any, has GoldMinerPulse to write such a report?

According to the overview, "I have prepared this report using my experience analyzing thousands of NI 43-101 reports of many hundreds of junior mining explorers. The GoldMinerPulse document backup now runs at 42G bytes of compressed PDF files, mostly NI 43-101 reports along with MDandA, IFS, presentations, news releases and related mining documents."

An e-mail from GoldMinerPulse founder Dennis Boyko June 22/10 reveals that he's something of a relic from the legendary Bell Northern Research (BNR) labs in Ottawa, Ont., where he landed safely after a typically bumpy start as a field engineer on the Alberta oil patch with Schlumberger. Two science and math degrees later, he rose to become Dilbert in the Bay Area telecom industry. Most recently, he exploited the dotcom boom by creating, a Web site that famously tracks online poker as well as a few of the more interesting legal challenges in the gambling industry. There is also an eclectic blog at the site called The Roll and Shuffle described as the discriminating player's guide to the art of gambling, which includes interestingly a riff under the heading, Gambling for Gold.
The man is clearly a reader, like Biblitz, and an objective one with no affiliation to or interest in the mining industry beyond the academic. A sound approach, in my view. Snap it up!

What about the effects of mining on the environment?

Reason for Hope

A Spiritual Journey

By Jane Goodall with Phillip Berman

... For a hundred years the toxic emissions from a nickel mine (in Sudbury, Ont.) had polluted the environment for miles around. ... citizens finally realizing that their health as well as their environment were at risk, had decided to do something about it. The mine had reduced its emissions by 98 percent in about fifteen years. As a symbol of hope, they gave me a feather from one of the peregrine falcons that once again nested there - after being locally extinct for more than forty years. ...

There are, in fact, success stories everywhere. (From Chapter 15, Hope, pgs. 232-251)

Deep Jungle

By Fred Pearce

totemForestt90 As Columbus, his fellows and successors spread out across the New World, conquering the Aztecs in Mexico and the Incas in Peru, and scattering the numerous tribes of the Amazon, there was a manic fervour about their search for gold that combined the mercenary and the spiritual. Columbus himself was clear about his dual motivation: Whoever possesses gold can acquire all that he desires ... with gold he can gain entrance to paradise. As one of the most successful conquistadors, the cruel and handsome Hernando Cortez, put it after sacking the Aztec capital: We have a sickness of the heart for which there is only one cure - gold.

To put a missionary spin on things, the priests argued that God put gold among the primitive forest people to encourage Christians to seek them out and innocent90 convert them. As one priest put it: "A father with an ugly daughter gives her a large dowry to marry her, and this is what God did with that difficult land, giving it much wealth in mines so that by this means he would find someone who wanted it.

... even more than the mythology of the Amazons, the conquistadors came, most of all, to believe in the story of El Dorado, a city of gold deep in the Amazon jungle. Nobody knows quite how the myth got going: some say it had its origins in the traditions of the Chibcha people in the mountains of modern-day Colombia, who said the mountains had once been ruled by an Indian chief who was so wealthy that every morning he got his servants to cover him in gold dust, which he washed off in a lake.

However it arose, the myth of El Dorado soon lost all its geographical bearings as conquistadors went up the Orinoco and down the Amazon, over the Andes and into the forests on the continent's Pacific shores, seeking out the fabled king and his city. ... Walter Raleigh, the sometime favourite of Queen Elizabeth of England, twice sailed up the Orinoco in search of "that great and golden city." ... all those stories of great jungle cities were not necessarily myths. ... In the interior of the vast, unexplored island of New Guinea ... two Germans, William Dammkohler and Rudolf Oldorp, found the precious metal in 1909 ... in 1922, legendary Australian loner and explorer William 'Sharkeye' Park went back to New Guinea and found gold while panning among the trees on Koranga Creek in Morobe province on the remote, far side of the central highlands ... against a backdrop of head-hunting and cannibalism. ... Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, an eccentric British army surveyor ... in 1925 ... he and his son headed into the (Amazon) forest and were never seen again. ... an American bush pilot and aeronautics wizard from Missouri called Jimmy Angel ... spent much of the 1920s and 1930s in the headwaters of the Orinoco, looking for a 'river of gold' in 'a land where the plesiosaurs roam.' The story is told that he once found gold on a mountaintop with the help of an Alaskan prospector, James McCracken, whom he had met in a bar in Panama City. But McCracken died soon afterwards and Angel could never find his way back to the right mountaintop.

... Finally, during the 1990s, the forests of Borneo became the scene of the biggest business fraud of all time - a fraud over gold. An obscure Canadian mining company called Bre-X rose to be one of the most valuable mining companies in the world. Stocks soared on the basis of claims from its small team of explorers that they had found the world's richest gold mine at Busang, a tiny airstrip in the middle of the jungle, 1,500 kilometres from Jakarta. Thousands of investors, including the ruling Indonesian Suharto family, bought into the company. At their peak in 1997, Bre-X shares were worth more than $4 billion and the entire gold hoard was valued at $25 billion. El Dorado was back in the headlines, this time on the business pages.

Then doubts crept in: questions were asked about the authenticity of the ore samples being assembled and analysed at a remote jungle laboratory. Sceptics suggested that the samples might have been adulterated - not a difficuolt task since there was no outside supervision and local streams being panned by tribesmen routinely contained small amounts of gold that could be used to 'salt' the samples. Then, on his way to answer accusations, the chief field geologist Michael de Guzman - a karaoke-loving Filipino with a prounced limp and four wives - leapt from his helicopter into the jungle. By the time they found his body, half-eaten by forest animals, a few days later, the mine had been deemed worthless and the company's value had crashed to nothing. (From In Search of El Dorado, pgs. 22-35)

Investors are right to worry about Canadian mining scandals:

The Globe and Mail

'The end of the trail'

Ten years ago, $6.1-billion vanished when tests found next to no gold in an Indonesian mine. Now, the only man to stand trial has been cleared of $84-million in insider-trading charges. Civil suits are pending, but for many investors Tuesday's ruling means just one thing.

By Paul Waldie and Janet McFarland
Aug. 1/07

More on the Bre-X class action lawsuit in which lawyers for the company trustee are trying to seize assets from Mr. Felderhof's ex-wife in the story, Bre-X's John Felderhof: The man who can't clear his name by Shannon Kari, National Post, March 11/10.

Investors burned by the world's biggest mining fraud were dealt a blow yesterday when John Felderhof, former vice-chairman of Bre-X Minerals Ltd., was found not guilty of illegally selling $84-million worth of shares in the company.

Mr. Felderhof, 67, was the only former Bre-X official to stand trial over the firm's collapse. He was charged with four counts each of illegal insider trading and issuing false press releases but was not accused of involvement in the fraud that saw $6.1-billion of shareholder wealth eradicated in 1997 when tests found virtually no gold at Bre-X's much-touted Busang site in Indonesia.

... The ruling means that 10 years after the company's collapse, Bre-X shareholders know nothing more about who was responsible for the fraud, and have now been told one of the key people at the centre of the case was not negligent in allowing the fraud to occur under his watch. It also means the long fight by investors to recover money from company insiders has been dealt a significant blow. ... The quasi-criminal charges against Mr. Felderhof were laid by the Ontario Securities Commission under the Ontario Securities Act. The OSC argued that Mr. Felderhof was ultimately responsible for misleading investors because he authorized press releases touting the amount of gold at the site. OSC witness Graham Farquharson, a geological expert, said there was a "basket of warning signs" in test results that should have served as red flags to Mr. Felderhof. In his ruling, Mr. Justice Peter Hryn of the Ontario Court of Justice concluded the so-called "red flags" were only visible in hindsight, and said Mr. Farquharson seemed to be the only expert who saw them. He noted numerous other mining companies, engineering firms and experts were also duped by the same data.