Tales from the Covid Bunker: Another Day Locked Away

Featured Image: A rubbish picture I took at last year's show in Colorado

Liam goes on a ramble again...

Today I’ll be logging into the Beaver Creek Precious Metals Summit show, normally in the stunning mountains of Colorado, today, streamed online into my home office. On the one hand, this has saved me hassling with Denver airport and a long drive, but whats the real cost?

I’m a full supporter of covid prevention measures, I’m not a medical doctor or microbiologist, so, as a fellow scientist, it’s my duty to trust the best scientific data available until I can provide better data. The current best data tells us there is a pandemic and we do need to take steps as an international community to prevent it.

I don’t protest this at all, I wear my mask and stand 2m behind people in queues, I’ve avoided large meetings and carried my hand gel around since PDAC in March, where I first heard about the virus. I will try to only argue with reputable science if I am qualified to (exclusively in geology and geochemistry discussions), or on moral grounds, if I believe the work puts people at risk. Sometimes I do get grumpy and break this rule sadly.

Many of us have been calling, zooming and tweeting at record levels since the corona panic began. I’m long past ‘zoom fatigue’ and now feel comfortable on camera, whether I’m recording a show, hosting a live webinar or just catching up with friends… My girlfriend replaced our curtains to bring in more natural light, I’ve changed my diet to account for sitting on my arse 8 hours a day and joined a gym to somewhat offset this lack of movement, the bars are back open in Vienna so, I’m lucky enough to be able to go for a pint in the afternoon while working too… What I’m really struggling without is gossip.

Junior mining relies on knowledge for success, there’s a huge amount you can learn academically about technical investing and mineral exploration, but for real insight and golden tips… I need to sit down at a bar for a few beers with a CEO or geo, or fellow investor/writer and hear a project’s dirty innards spilled on the table… What happened to hole PT006-02 that was never published? Where did Joe Bloggs the famous mapping geo end up after making that huge mistake up Mt. Whatever? Why is investor ‘A’ really putting his money into Company XYZ? How much did ‘Mineral Mining Company Z’ spend on the corporate card for mysterious powders and questionable ladies last night? (we jest, but it’s a genuine fear with some rougher companies at shows)…

We have done our best to compensate and keep things moving, with calls, emails and whatsapps, but it is never as candid. We may swear nonchalantly about things and slag off people/companies, but the real dirt and namedropping only ever comes out 3 beers and a basket of wings into a meeting when everybody is comfortable, and a layer of communal trust has developed, with Louisiana hot-sauce dripping from beards or splattered over blouses and the first round of single malt being poured over at the bar, because this one Aussie geo had it years ago in Scotland and we all really have to try it, in double measures…

This week at Beaver Creek Online I’ll meet with 14 companies, I’ll hear presentations and I’m hoping people have upped their game, brought in graphic designers and employed media to bring some life to the 25-minute slots… But this comes as a double-edged sword. It is much easier to bullshit people online with fancy graphics and media than it is over a beer.

For example, Rupert Resources released a whopping hole this week, 170m at 3g/t. If I hadn’t seen this hole in person last month while on site with the company I would have had some very serious questions about the gold distribution, location and relationship to any surrounding ore body (was it along strike, following veins, cross cutting, ploughed into a mag-high etc…?). But I met and gained trust for Charlie Seabrook and their geo team in person, so, I am willing to accept their work is kosher.

My fear is that our wonderful bull run for exploration companies is being led by as much BS as it is by gold price or exploration data. I’ve seen poor reporting of Geochem data, I’ve seen CEOs skate questions about why they’re not actually on site and pushing last years results heavily while fingering $100 notes in their back pockets and giving themselves options.

I’m seeing a lot more generalists asking on Facebook and Twitter… ‘Who should I invest in’ and then jumping on the first reply, without understanding that 200g/t gold over 30cm isn’t great in real terms for a mining project… Newcomers following geophysical maps that have no scale bars for the colour spectrums or distances… But a nice shiny red blob being frantically waved at. ‘It lit up like a Christmas tree’ said the CEO, predictably.

How far are we prepared to let this market keep running and keep encouraging generalists to invest… While we really don’t have an honest track into goings on. We don’t have that safeguard gossip channel together to raise red flags… We’re all on our own right now, divided and vulnerable, even with the finest research.

We won’t be able to answer that until we get back together and sink some drinks, that won’t be PDAC next year as this has now gone digital too, but I’m told it may be in Mexico for the Discoveries conference this November… For me, the sooner we’re back on the ground, the better for us all… and for those who read our newsletters and trust us to deliver them honest research and info.

Happy Tuesday friends

Spotlight Mining

Posted in Tales from the Covid Bunker

Liam Hardy View posts by Liam Hardy

With a family background in African mining exploration and a degree in geology, Liam brings a mix of technical ‘on-the-ground’ ore hunting and suit-booted office experience to the team. Liam worked in Liberia with Hummingbird Resources and spent 4 years as a geochemical analyst, before focusing on streamlining communications and development in exploration businesses, through the founding of ‘Spotlight Mining’.