Ringing bells, elves, reindeer etc… Hello festive friends!
This Christmas special episode is media heavy, we highly suggest hitting ‘allow images’ to see it in its full glory. It is being written outside the lobby of a hotel at Dusseldorf airport, at 3am with a pack of Marlborough lights and a generic beer, on my way home from Mexico to see my family in the NE of England. The regular phrase ‘one sleep till christmas’ doesn’t necessarily apply to those of us switching time zones this aggressively!
I’ll start by saying a massive thanks once again to you, my faithful subscribers! This year only 9 people unsubscribed and 31% of you regularly read and followed the links I suggested, amazing considering this is a free (spam) newsletter! This is humbling and I truly appreciate your time and support.
This sentiment is especially true for last week’s email, where, after a brief political rant, I received a landslide of replies from far and wide regarding the UKs political landscape. Some of support and some of absolute disagreement, but all were well argued and mature and reaffirmed my faith in the mining community as one of logic and sense. We’re a good bunch and together we can do great things.
What a year this has been, a slump in investment to juniors means many of us are having a pretty bleak Christmas. From investors who lost out, to the people on-site who went unpaid for a season’s work. This has been a tough one.
While around $35b was lost from cannabis stocks which promised far more than they could deliver, we’ve also lost out to pump-dump projects knocking overall confidence in the sector and faux newsletter writers dropping companies they’d pledged to support. It’s a dirty world, but it’s not hopeless.
We founded Spotlight Mining in January, after I spent 2018 with a shady operator, eventually culminating in 4 months of unpaid work for the whole media team (except for our boss). We discovered we’d been pumping junk stocks and being wholly unsavoury. That matter is being resolved by the European Court and is water under the bridge for us. We live and learn eh.
We launched SM to prove there was a better way to do business. Handshakes are important, as is transparency and honesty in our production. We haven’t made any notable money yet, but that wasn’t really our goal, we actually do this for fun and a genuine love of geology and quality media. We still hold a pretentious moral highground over many other writers and media producers. We haven’t pumped or produced anything we didn’t believe in, from the people, to the rocks.
As mentioned in previous pieces, we visited 2 sites this year in BC, Canada and refused to work with the companies, despite seeing considerable cheques on the table. They were plugging nonsense. Full disclosure about who we met after beers in January, along with dirt dishing for those who failed to pay our invoices, for one reason or another (some excusable, others just plain rude!).
VIDEO: Liam catches up with Alexander Palkovsky at the MINEX forum in Bulgaria (June 2019)
Ignoring the essential conference route, this year through: Metals Investor Forum (Toronto), PDAC (Toronto), Edelmetallmesse (Munich), MINEX (Sofia), 121 (London), Beaver Creek (Colorado) and Mines & Money (London), this is our simplified 2019:
107,000 airmiles via 46 flights with 12 airlines, 8 countries, 9 companies, 2 governments and the occasional hangover.
VIDEO: Behind The Resource with Mawson
Our year started with old friends at Mawson Resources, producing some cracking videos for their Rompas-Rajapalot project. Mawson end the year in a strong place, bank full for drilling (which is ongoing through the winter) and a share price that wasn’t hugely effected by the market crash. I’m still personally invested and hoping for good things from one of the coolest teams in the business.
VIDEO: We took a tour around the Globex Silver project near Braunsdorf, Germany
In April, we took a tour with Globex around their Braunsdorf licence in Saxony, which has now been JVd with Excellon and looks set to be drilled in 2020. While many are scared of Germany, Saxony presents an excellent litmus test for future projects in a country packed with precious metals… From the Goldkronach 2kg/t (yep, 2000g/t!) vein in Bavaria to massive REE deposits in Baden-Wurttemberg… I think Germany will really surprise us all in 2020, especially at Braunsdorf, in one of the world’s biggest historic silver producing districts with an existing producer on board… Eyes peeled.
VIDEO: Dylan from HEG introduces our first ‘rock of the day’ from Crystal Lake Mining’s Newmont Lake property – megacrystic syenite!
In May, the bears started to wake and Canada kicked into gear! After a lunch and great chat in Berlin with Crystal Lake Mining’s then CEO, I was whisked off to Vancouver and we signed an exciting contract to cover their project ‘live’ on site at Newmont Lake. We met some truly exceptional people.
Crystal Lake and the HEG team hit some serious holes this year, from expanding an existing gold resource (in principle) to a brand new Nickel-Cobalt discovery.
It’s an interesting story, that wasn’t meant to play out so well… According entirely to rumour (off the record!) It now seems several insiders were setting CLM up to fail and using the momentum to boost the GGI scam in the region, many respectable people were lied to and played. CLM money was planned to be used for several GGI related projects and it all got a bit messy… What these insiders hadn’t expected was the young HEG team (who are now the largest shareholders) to be so damn good… Cole, Dylan and John caught on pretty fast to the issues and cut them off. We helped to expose them in our newsletter in August and now, those left in the company are all genuinely interested in advancing it.
Their 11c share price and placements are sure to pay off for patient investors, now that the board are actually on board. There’s a little to fix as the start-up finds it’s feet, but I believe they’re going to nail next year and, we’ll be there to cover it. If the story teaches us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t underestimate youth in this industry. HEG beat the rats short handed by simply being decent people who cared about their staff and the shareholders.
VIDEO: We learn about Auramex’s Georgie River prospect in Northern BC
We dropped in on Auramex and Mountain Boy while in the north of BC too and took wonderful tours with their teams. Of the people we met this summer, I can’t say I’ve ever worked with a more positive and ‘family-like’ group, or in a more welcoming town than Stewart. More thanks go to everybody there and, once again, we’re raising a glass for our continued work into 2020 to build Auramex’s Georgie River prospect and MTB’s large golden triangle portfolio.
VIDEO: From deep in the Apuseni Mountains, we meet with Mihai, Sorin & Mark from Strategic Resources & Leading Edge Materials to launch their Bihor Sud project in Romania.
In the middle of our Canadian adventure, we flew across the world to the Balkans! We spent time on site with teams from Mundoro, Leading Edge Materials and Strategic Resources and were shown some superb projects.
In Romania, we saw the Bihor Sud Nickel-Cobalt prospect… An historic producer with a mighty reserve (non-compliant, but visible) and existing tunnels and infrastructure. Romania has had a chequered past with external operators, but an alliance between LEM & Strategic Resources here means there’s genuine local support as well as local (and international) production experience involved. I’m expecting this one to progress fast. The team’s goal in Romania is to attract EV producers to the region by providing accessible and affordable resources. It’s a big challenge, but, the metals and opportunities are real. We’re still on board there (and with Strategic Resources’ huge Ditrau REE project!).
VIDEO: We go underground at Strategic Resources’ giant REE-Moly project in Ditrau, Romania
In November we shook on a deal to work with Supercharged Stocks in Canada and expand our relative networks considerably. While we have our individual opinions on everything, us media teams working together means you’ll get more varied news from trusted and referenced sources. It’s positive for us all. Andrew has a long history in the financial sector and, with me whining in his ear at all hours about the rocks, I believe we’ll deliver some great ideas in 2020 and beyond in his newsletter and our shared media.
VIDEO: here’s a great chat with Andrew O’Donnell and Jamie Strauss (that we filmed in London recently), introducing the DigBee data platform.
We’ve also started working behind the scenes with Sleipner in Finland to help them expand their global media output. Our international team has been translating and proofreading for them in Portuguese, Spanish and French. We love Sleipner’s equipment. It’s such a simple design and product to move large mining machinery across distances, but a huge cost and material saver. It’s hard to see how any major mines justify operating without them today.
To today… Changing flights overnight after a 3 week tour of Mexico with my girlfriend. We stopped in at Riverside Resources’ office in Hermosillo and met some serious hard-workers in the Mexican arena. John-Mark (as many of you will know) works his ass off to keep relationships human for RRI. The company have funding from BHP and other majors for their projects and an awesome spin-out in the making (video gifts to come in our NYE special blast!).
RRI should be an example to others in industry, about how to retain and develop investments with shareholders and community relationships. We are ecstatic to have joined this ‘family’ provisionally for 2020 and be part of their story as they launch ‘Capitán Mining’ to market. I will be investing in the story personally at some point soon.
Liam’s lessons from the decade:
Granted, I’m a newbie here. I’ve only been writing for 2 years after being a grubby field geo and a lab-coated academic in a former life, but I would like to think my relatively young perspective is of use and, there’s a lot of value that our young team can offer you and our partners.
The biggest ‘threat’ to any mine in any developed region today is a protest. A civil uprising or even just a tweet from Greenpeace can bring the finest project to its knees (See Lydian’s flop this week).
Those who organise and engage in these tweets and protests are the young ‘lefties’ that so many of my friends are terrified of. Whether you like em or not, those described as ‘snowflakes’ have our industry by the balls. Although, they don’t necessarily know it yet…
Millennials are now working in senior positions in companies and their ideals are going to be in control soon enough. They are the voters, investors and CEOs of the future, who will ultimately dictate the landscape of our industry. This may scare some of you even more!
The vast majority of those under thirty support the EV movement and lessening reliance on fossil fuels. They’re more aware of community issues, child labour, environmental disasters and scams, but arguably less aware of the positives. This means, if your company genuinely want to start a mine in the next decade… The ‘lefties’ of today, are the ones you’ll need to educate and impress. Now, not then.
What does a ‘leftie’ want…?
While your geology and data needs to remain of a high and accessible standard, your company also needs to start with environmental and social issues at its core, not cover them in a rushed and unreadable EIA in 5 years.
We all need to bridge the gaps in gender, sexuality and race representation immediately. We need to open our doors to the brightest students and workers worldwide and embrace local communities, not put up fences to shut them out.
At the start of 2019 I saw a respected CFO grab a waitress’ butt at dinner, and order her to bring a full round of beers to a table. This kind of behaviour doesn’t swing anymore.
I’ve seen companies deny women, asian and black workers positions despite their skills and I’ve seen my non-white, non-male friends struggle to find work in Australia, Canada and the USA, while all my white male graduation buddies are set up and doing reasonably well.
These young angry people can take control of your Twitter/online/real presence, and ultimately destroy your company’s image very quickly. It’s time to stop casting their concerns aside with casual insults and engage them at all levels. Together, we’re stronger.
At Spotlight Mining, we’re hopeful idealists and, this is our goal for the coming decade: To educate and engage younger audiences with the beauty and necessity of mining for our shared global goals. Ultimately, we want to make mining awesome again!
So… You’ll notice I use the word family a lot. It’s because I’ve felt so welcome in this industry this year. You’re mostly good people and I’m chuffed to have shared this time with you, for better or worse. You are part of my extended family and, together we’ll batter the coming storm.
With that in mind… Here’s my investments from 2019, most are currently down, but I’m going long-term. All have production potential and space to grow. All were bought by me personally on the open market in Germany and are not related to any promotions or contracts with Spotlight Mining. There’s no advice here, just a list of what I’ve done and plan to do. Always speak to a professional before investing, rather than follow an amateur newsletter writer with your money!
Leading Edge Materials – Bought as I wanted to be a part of the Bihor Sud project as it developed. Holding long-term.
Mawson Resources – Bought because I liked the team and geology. Finland is a great jurisdiction and their cobalt kicker makes their gold project very exciting. Holding long-term.
Australian Vanadium – Bought for genuine production potential, fully licensed and a large existing resource as well as tech development side project. Holding long-term.
Hammer Metals – Bought over odds while drunk and Twitter surfing. Regret purchase. Lesson learned. Sell order placed.
Delrey Metals – Bought after meeting Morgan (CEO) and the team in Vancouver. Liked the projects and I think they have a fresher angle than most Canadian projects. Awaiting news before deciding whether to hold or sell.
Sayona Mining, TNR, Berkwood Resources, Petra Diamonds – Purchased as a penny-stock trial run for new trading app. App worked, stocks didn’t. Sold months ago.
What am I following for next year? Production potential and decent people…
The obvious name is AMEX Exploration, but this won’t surprise anybody. Amex have raised lots of cash, gone drilling and been honest in their intentions to develop and sell. I value honesty!
SolGold – out of curiosity, I’ve met their team and had a wonderful dinner with them. I like their project and Ecuador and may buy in.
Finncobalt – a Finnish explorer looking to list early in the year. Whether I buy in will depend on where they list.
Hannan Metals – Peruvian and Irish zinc projects, they share board members with our friends at Mawson and have achieved a lot on a tight budget. Based on their work at Mawson, I’d be happy to buy in.
Riverside Resources – I’d like to be involved with their new subsidiary Capitán, and their team.
EMX – They just keep growing, I can’t see that changing. A solid team in solid locations.
Matsa Resources – introduced to me by Hannes from Der Goldreport in Munich this year… Australian gold producer who have been very good at developing cashflow and paying their own way, not relying on the stock market for funds, I’m a big fan of this model!
My 2020 wildcards:
Nevada Exploration – I’ve written these guys up before. It seems logical that they’ll find something sizeable next door to so many majors. I’m not convinced water sampling is the best way to find things, but they’re the experts in that region so… A wildcard that could easily be a 10-20 bagger with instant interest coming from majors, if they hit with their early drilling.
Fireweed Zinc – I like Brandon and the team. I haven’t read much on the project itself, but they are pros and know their project, as well as being genuine decent people. Zinc isn’t normally a big winner, but for a slow burn growth project, I’ll probably pick up some stock in January if the price seems reasonable.
Tis the season to be grateful. I know many of us lost friends in industry this year to accidents, and many of us will be away on rigs, up mountains and keeping equipment turning this week so, we should raise a glass to those missing from our tables. In my family of geologists and scientists, up in the cold north, we will drink for those lost and away.
Once again, a thank you from the whole Spotlight team for your continued support of our work and, here’s to an exceptional 2020.
Cheers, really really, cheers!
Founder, geologist, director, pot-washer and shelf stacker
The Spotlight Mining team will be attending these awesome shows:
– Metals Investor Forum, Vancouver – 17th January 2020
– VRIC, Vancouver – January 2020
– AME Round-Up, Vancouver – 20-23rd January 2020
– PDAC, Toronto, March – 1-4th 2020