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1/16/15

The Friday OT: Jimmy Page; How Stairway to Heaven was written

This BBC feature came out in October, but I only got to see it this week as it did the rounds on a couple of the blogs I regularly read. 



It's not often that Jimmy Page talks as eloquently as he plays; he's an introverted type at heart, words aren't his best medium. He drops the stylus on the vinyl (that centre ticket on the LP brought back some memories as it spun around) and it begins ok, but as the segment progresses he starts to open up, talk of the circumstances behind the recording and the era as well as how the song itself came to be. Much better than I expected, give it a try too. Youtube link here

Errr no, the lust for gold is not eating up the world’s last rainforests

Some data:


Or in real world terms, the process continues at the same pace for the next 396 years and man would have done away with one percent of the rainforest. We clear?

And you'll note that the University of Puerto Rico paper covers South of Mexico, i.e. it includes the Central American rainforest area as well. I'm just counting the main Amazon rainforest area, so let's round it all out at...hmmm...let's say 500 years.

From that Mining Dot Com, mining's equivalent of the New York Post, gives you its lead story headline today, "Lust for gold eating up the world’s last rainforests: study". Total bullshit. And what's more, as pointed out previously on these pages the logicstics of alluvial mining mean that they're never going to get the chance to screw up much of the forest (unlike the real guilty parties, the loggers) because there's a quickly achieved limit to how far you can stray away from water supply in order to mine gold in the area. 

Just goes to show how facts can get in the way of a good narrative. And how desperate for clicks places like Mining Dot Com have become. Which is why I'm not linking to their ridiculous clickbait story. 

Switzerland fallout? Watch silver

Want it simple? We do simple:



  • Gold is now 1% up on the 12 month chart
  • Silver is 16.5% down.
  • If the table tilts to deflation, that gap will not narrow. 
  • I repeat and confirm my statement in the "Ten Random Predictions for 2015" post: "I'd definitely hold gold miner stocks over silver miner stocks this year."

Capstone (CS.to) decides that it needs more senior debt

The move announced this morning is that Capstone (CS.to) is taking the $298.369m senior debt on its books as at end 3q14 (which is probably down to at most $276m now because CS had a quarterly payment to meet between then and now) and replacing it with a $440m facility that can expand to $500m if some criteria are met. So the essence of the thing is that CS.to has breathed about $160m of liquidity life into its structure, which expand to $220m if necessary. Let's see what Capstone's CEO had to say about the move in the NR today:
"This low-cost credit facility, combined with our existing cash balance and cash flow from operations, offers Capstone significant financial flexibility to meet our operating requirements and to address potential market or operational disruptions, including periods of low copper prices," said Darren Pylot , President and CEO of Capstone. 

"We expect to draw approximately $265 million once the standard conditions precedents are met. This will replace our current borrowings and will eliminate our requirement for amortization, leaving us with approximately $235 million of additional credit capacity. At the same time, we maintain the option to access the high yield bond market when conditions improve if that is still appropriate for Capstone at the time."
Parsing that:

1) This low cost credit facility is at LIBOR +3% and a standby fee of 0.675%. It replaces a credit facility priced at LIBOR +2.5% and a standby fee of 0.56%. So it may be "low cost", but perhaps a better definition is "more cost than it used to be".

2) CS.to had $169.933m cash as at end 3q14. How much of that is "existing" cash and how much of that is "exiting" cash under the new copper price will be seen when Capstone reports its next couple of quarters. 

3) As for cash flow from operations, again we check the 3q14 filings and note that from revenues of $183.824m, CS.to reported earnings from operations (i.e. before the financials section kicks in, interest and tax and all that jazz) of $16.874m. It did this by producing copper at $1.84/lb cash cost and selling it at an average of $2.98/lb. Now I may not be the sharpest stick, but if you slice just 10% off that average copper selling price by my Casio it's not going to leave much in the way of op-earnings. Basically, it looks as though out intrepid CEO Pylot is stretching things a bit far by  combining the new facilities' benefits with "cash flow from operations" in order to underscore the wellbeing of his company.

4) The $265m draw makes sense; they know their books better than us and that'll cover the current secured facility. Therefore $175m-$235m is what they've added to the liquidity pile. They'll underscore $235m, but there must be a reason why the banks haven't lent $500m but have lent $440-with-facility-to-500. I'll stick with the low end number, thanks.

Bottom line: CS.to's share price has been decimated recently by the combo of dropping copper prices, a poor operational 2014 that missed guidance, plus the idiocy of a CEO who tried to pretend that everything was cool when it obviously was not. The company is facing a potential cash crunch in the medium-term if copper doesn't rebound immediately (and it certainly has no cash to develop the overpriced Santo Domingo project) so it's decided to head off the problem now and raise via debt (after what happened to the share price, there was no chance of raising via equity without a full-on rebellion against CEO Pylot). As business decisions go it's conservative and there is logic there, but it's taken another slug of share price upside potential away from the company and it's now looking heavily in the hands of (aka at the mercy of) the banks. Its market cap is now the same as its financial senior debt, give or take a million or two. 

CS.to filed a small net loss on operations in 3q14 when copper was at $2.98/lb. Is there any reason to own this with copper at $2.60/lb and a dog's dinner of a balance sheet? I think not, so financial stability via new loans or not steer well clear of this one, at best it'll underperform peers if the sector rebounds, at worst its equity price will be crushed between the jaws of rising debt and writedowns. 


1/15/15

Peru GDP +0.31% November 2014

Sucks. News here, chart here:


So much for the stimulus package that was going to make things so wonderful in the second half of 2014. Bolivia kicks Peru's ass once again.

Contrarian trades and a small confession about Bitcoin

Yesterday I stuck up a chart on Bitcoin and its precipitous drop from ~U$290 to ~U$190 in the space of five days. Later my attention was then drawn to how all the know-it-alls in the SERIOUS FINANCIAL WORLD were laughing at Bitcoin, via this post over at Market Narrative. Therefore I did the only thing a knee-jerk stubborn idiot contrarian could possibly do: I bought 10 Bitcoins, paying U$1,870 post-commish*. That's where the small confession comes in: it's for subscribers as I'll usually declare trades before making them and this time I didn't tell them. Then again, it was a non-mining stock trade (and it was smallstuff)...hey I dunno, I just did it. Anyway, I just sold the 10 Bitcoins for U$2,250 post commish. No plans to return to the trade either, it was a one-off for psychological reasons and not for deep expert opinion on the Bitcoin market (of which I have none).

There's something about that moment when everyone isn't just criticizing a market sector but outright ridiculing it. There's a pitch and a tone about it which rarely fails to make the laughers immediately eat their words. If you can ID that tone don't even think twice, take the counterparty, you'll rarely lose. This Bitcoin rebound may be a dead cat bounce, it may be the start of further upside, I don't know and I don't care (because I'm out). But I'll trade the clever-people-about-to-look-stupid-again niche time and time again, wherever I come across it.

*By the time I'd transferred dollars to the right place, which took about 15 minutes of low stress discovery work, they were even lower. And I was surprised how easy it was to get dollars into the bitcoin market these days. I tried it last year with a small amount of money and it was a real mess, very squirrely, which must have put a lot of people off at the time. Yesterday the options to transfer were manifold times easier and quicker. It occurs to me now, today, while writing this post that perhaps the dump in Bitcoin is connected to the new ease of getting in and out of the thing. 

All you need to know about Great Panther Silver (GPL) (GPR.to)

We get a great big long NR from GPR today, with the production numbers and the mine breakdown and the guidance for 2015 (they pick 1:65 for a gold silver ratio...they funny guys) and all sorts. But the good news about joke companies is that you don't need to digest every detail, you just need to find the one key overriding factor. Then you can close the NR and go look at a company that's worth your time and effort in understanding.


There you go. Next, please.

Chart of the day is...

...the gold/copper ratio, three years. Whoosh.



This is to yesterday evening. With gold up 1.82% and copper up 1.7% at time of writing (2 hours before the open today) there's a tiny extra to add...but really, this is the picture. The picture is whoosh.

Fortuna Silver 4q14 production

Here's your NR. Here's your chart:


I'll leave the commentary on its 2015 forecasts to other people.

1/14/15

Mo' Capstone (CS.to)

Following on from yesterday's pottymouthed spewage:



Any further questions or comments, dumbass mailers?

Karma! Police! Arrest this man! (and this man and that man and this man and that man and...)

I'm sorry, couldn't resist that title about True Gold's (TGM.v) news today:

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Jan. 14, 2015) - True Gold Mining Inc. (TSX VENTURE:TGM) ("True Gold" or the "Company") reports that a demonstration today at the Karma Mine ("Karma" or "Mine") has resulted in True Gold temporarily suspending operations at Karma. There has been some damage to the Company's property and assets which we are currently assessing for significance and potential impacts to project schedule.True Gold took the decision as a precautionary measure in the interests of employee safety and project security and to allow the communities and authorities to engage with the demonstrators.True Gold remains in contact with the relevant authorities and will continue to monitor the situation and update stakeholders.

And that news was as welcome for TGM.v longs as...

...Thom Yorke manning the telephones at The Samaritans.

He talks in Fulfulde  He buzzes like a goldbug  He's like a de-tuned King World News Radio show

Aberdeen (AAB.to) vs Meson: Break out the popcorn...

...because now it's less AAB vs Meson, more Stan vs Ryan.

Here's the latest Meson offering, the "Free Aberdeen!" website (very William Wallace) that explains why the AAB.to should be "set free from Stan Bharti". 

Here's the latest Aberdeen offering, the mailer out this afternoon which explains, in fine detail, just what the board of AAB think of Mr. Ryan Morris of Meson Capital (spoiler: not much).

UPDATE: What do I think, you ask (via mail)? Well for one, do you honestly give a rat's ass about my opinion? Honestly? Thought as much.

So with 95% now gone, I'd say that...

1) I am an unconcerned unshareholder. It's not my problem because I'm not stupid enough to own anything tainted by the ratbag Bharti, let alone the mothership central stock of his nefarious mini-empire. Really and truly I'll sit on the sidelines and allow myself to be amused by the comings and goings, but when it comes right down to it I couldn't care less who wins. Or who loses. Or who claims to have won. I'm here for the shitz-n-giggles, period.

2) Just because I'm anti-Bharti, it doesn't mean I'm pro-Meson. For what it's worth I think they're stupid and there's objective proof of that; they bought 9% of a Bharti company and apparently have run out of ammunition already. I mean, you seen the crappy volumes  in AAB.to recently? The market isn't exactly falling over itself to get a ringside seat for this EGM in February.

3) Not only that, but I have decent reason to believe that at least some of the Bharti accusations in that mailer today are spot on. That's because mister Ryan decided to exchange with your humble scribe back in November and it turned out that what he really wanted was to pump me for dirt on Sexy Stan. Y'know, if it were me I'd do the deeper DD and find out about my adversary before I bought 9% of a company, not afterwards.

4) With ~30% of shares in declared holdings of current AAB.to directors and lawd knows how many tucked away in Secret Squirrel accounts friendly to Stan&Co, this proxy has a snowball's chance in hell. If I were Ryan I'd make like a shepherd* right now.

5) And yeah, that means I'm not going spec long on AAB.to for this gig anytime soon. Life's too short to get in between an Idiot vs Idiot handbag fight.

*get the flock outta here


Further Panoro Minerals (PML.v): The Continued Mystery of the Missing PEA

In the IKN post "Panoro Minerals (PML.v): The Mystery of the Missing PEA" dated November 27th, we went into some detail about the strange non-appearance of the company's PEA for its Cotabambas project, ending with this little list to summarize things:
  • In April 2013 PML.v said the Cotabambas PEA would be with us in December 2013
  • In February 2014 PML.v said the Cotabambas PEA would be with us in July 2014
  • In April 2014 PML.v said the Cotabambas PEA would be with us in mid-2014
  • In July 2014 PML.v said the Cotabambas PEA would be with us by the end of September 2014
  • In November 2014 PML.v said the Cotabambas PEA would be with us by the end of 2014
And yes indeedy yes sirree, we can add another line to that one now. Here we are half way through the first month of anno domini two thousand and fifteen with still no PEA from PML.v.

Beats me why anyone might think Canadian junior mining companies are full of shit.

An update on last week's Macquarie report on Barrick Gold (ABX)

Last Thursday morning Macquarie published a report on Barrick Gold (ABX) which was so good it even got a positive mention here on these normally cynical and brokerage-skeptic pages known as IKN (right here). As it happens, Macquarie downgraded ABX to underperform and its target price from CAD$22 to CAD$11.

I later received permission to distribute my copy of the report, which I did to subscribers and here's the cover letter that went with the mailer (sent Friday Jan 9th):

Dear all,
I've taken plenty of requests for a copy of the Macquarie report on Barrick Gold (ABX) since mentioning it on the blog yesterday. Therefore I've decided to blanket you all and send out the report to the whole list, but for more than that single reason. Though IKN gets a small mention, that's not the reason to read it. The reason is the report's high quality, considered reasoning and its conclusions drawn. This is the type of fundamental research I'd like to do when I grow up. 
It's exactly the type of research I'd like to see from a whole bunch of brokerage analysts who are, in theory at least, capable of similar work but still, even now and after the market performance we've seen for the last two or so years, prefer to remain uncontroversial to the point of sycophantic with the companies they cover. We need to see more reports such as this ABX one out there, written by people unafraid to speak truth to power. If only for that, I'm keen on this being read by as many people as possible.
Hope you enjoy your Friday. 
Best, O

And here's how ABX has traded since the Macquarie report was published, compared to a bunch of peer stocks (GG, NEM, AEM, GFI) as well as the precious metals miners ETf (GDX and gold bullion (GLD):



That, ladies and gentlemen, is looking like a championship call on ABX from Macquarie. Let other brokerages and their anal ysts take due note.

A Flash update...

...has just been sent to subscribers, 07:45am Wednesday morning, pre-open.

Chart of the day is...

...five days of Bitcoin:



Those Bitcoins you own that were worth U$290 five days ago? They're worth U$190. Chart from here

1/13/15

Capstone Mining (CS.to): Guidance 0, Chutzpah 1

This is wonderful. This morning Capstone Mining (CS.to) reported its 4q14 production numbers. Here's the relevant table from the NR and here's the NR so go see for yourself. And please go see, to make sure I'm not inventing all this. Because it's wonderful, y'see.


The first thing: Let's note that CS.to missed its production guidance targets for 2014. But not only did it miss, but it missed in every single category at all three mines.

The second thing: Let us consider that little footnote (1) at the bottom, which claims that its guidance figures were at +/- 5%. Errr, no. They weren't. Well, not until today at least and i checked as well. I chekced in the 2013 YE MD&A and I also checked the 1q14 MD&A because Capstone only gave 2014 guidance for two of its three mines in the year-end report, then added guidance for the third a quarter later. Yes for sure you have the guidance table and they're the same 2014 numbers as above. But no footnote. No plus-or-minus-five-percent leeway. No ifs or buts. In other words YOU'RE MAKING SHIT UP, CAPSTONE.

But the third thing is the best thing. Here's what CS.to Pres/CEO Darren Pylot (no relation to Pontius) had to say about his company's results for 2014: "All three of our operating mines were within the range of their production guidance for 2014, and exited the year running at, or very close to, plan".

Seriously, he said that. "Within the range of their production guidance". And "Ooooh, y'know we were thaaaaat close!". What fucking bare-faced fucking chutzpah bullshit is that you stupid fucking excuse for a rotten dead camel's unwiped asshole CEO? Anyway, let's see if the market liked Capstone's results as much as this Pylot did:



Errr...no. It didn't. Funny that, innit?

Here's one of the two things that really, but really pisses me off about technical anal ysts

Here's a gold chart from the decent squiggly line site for PMs, goldprice:


And the thing that gets my goat about this pseudoscience? When they tell us that their "targets need confirmation". Yesterday's gold close got the chartists all happy and excited, but they were also quick to tell us about the resistance at $1239/oz and $1240/oz. Here's an example and here's another and those are just the first two I came across, I counted plenty more in my scans yesterday. So what happens? Gold goes over both those numbers (see chart above) which, according to this band of snake-oil salesmen at least, mean gold has done exactly what they wanted and it's now in full bullish mode. Unfortunately for them, gold didn't read their carefully drafted script and today fell back under their magic number and right now (Tuesday afternoon an hour before the NYSE/TSX close) it trades at $1233. 

The TA-Charlatan's reply: "Oh, it needed confirmation". Or "It wasn't fully broken". Or "Back-testing support is healthy". In other words:

1) If they set a target, the target doesn't hit and then the price goes lower, they're right.
2) If they set a target, the target hits and then the price goes higher, they're right.
3) If they set a target, the target hits, then the price goes lower, they're not wrong.

Man, how about that for a job? And pray tell, when does a 1240 target become "confirmed"? At 1250? Because apparently the next TA resistance level is 1260 so if I have to wait until 50% of my potential gain has vanished before getting long. 

By the way, the other thing that riles me about these serial bullshitters is the way they're so expert on what just happened and can explain everything about the past in jargon rich terms. Ask them about the future? Suddenly it's all about possibilities and perhaps this perhaps that. 

Iwnattos's Dalradian (DNA.to) wet dreams continue...

...and now he's calling the breakout. WTFDIK, perhaps he has a point here, he gets to be right and it zooms another 20% before Friday. Go have a look.

The Banker magazine's 2015 Central Banker of the Year award goes to...

...Julio Velarde, Head of the Peru Central Bank. English link here (needs sub), Spanish language link announcing the award here.

And for once I'm going to agree with the suited moneymob, Velarde is an excellent Cenbank head and fully deserves the award. 

First Majestic Silver (AG) (FR.to) 4q14 production

Here's the NR. Just four charts for you (from a selection of many more, I'll save the others for subbers and bore them stupid at the weekend). This one shows pure silver production, which came in at ~3.07m oz. Close to a record.


 ...This one shows silver equivalent production, which was nearly 4.25m oz and easily a new company record quarter. 


And that's because FR.to's previous proud boasts that it was the "pure silver" play are now well and truly confined to the past. Just 72% of its production is silver now.


But that's not such a bad thing. Hey, metal's metal, get over it silverbugs. We could go into each mine separately and there's decent reason to shine a light on the poor numbers from La Encantada (again) or the good ones from San Martin, but let's just stick with one of the component mine charts, Del Toro: 


That's because Del Toro kicked ass. And that's important for FR.to's future, they've got their new thing running nicely at last.

Bottom line: FR.to has stuck in a decent quarter and has justified its recent strong rally from oversold lows. 

Glad to have lightened on copper

Wowsers, splatsville:

1/12/15

A snapshot of the real estate market in Salta, Argentina

This from a 2012 (three years ago) promo piece from Casey Research about Doug Casey's pet project, La Estancia de Cafayate:



This from a mailer that Doug Casey sent out to his list today, January 12th 2015, entitled "A personal invitation from Doug Casey to join the community at La Estancia de Cafayate":



Notice anything?

My continued thanks to all those readers who keep forwarding Doug's e-mails of love to IKN.

Yamana (YRI.to) (AUY): Chunky

Priced at the weekend close.



YAMANA GOLD INC. (TSX:YRI)(NYSE:AUY) ("Yamana" or the "Company") today announced it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters (the "Underwriters") led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. and National Bank Financial Markets (the "Lead Underwriters") under which the Lead Underwriters have agreed to buy on a bought deal basis by way of a short form prospectus, 49,100,000 common shares of Yamana (the "Shares") at a price of C$5.30 per Share for gross proceeds of C$260,230,000 (the "Offering"). In addition, the Company has agreed to grant to the Underwriters an option (the "Over-Allotment Option") to purchase from the Company up to an additional 7,365,000 Shares at a price of C$5.30 per Share, on the same terms and conditions as the Offering, exercisable any time, in whole or in part, until the date that is 30 days after and including the closing date of the Offering. If the Over-Allotment Option is exercised in full, the total gross proceeds to Yamana will be C$299,264,500.
The net proceeds of the Offering will be used for general corporate purposes and to reduce the Company's debt position and to further strengthen the balance sheet. This prudent action will put the Company in a stronger position in any commodity price environment and improve the Company's ability to deliver future growth.
The Offering is expected to close on or about February 3, 2015 and is subject to the Company receiving all necessary regulatory approvals. 

Know your footy, 2014 Goal of the Year edition

IKN on November 12th 2014:

"Today FIFA posted up the 10 shortlisted goals vying to be 2014 goal of the year....For the record, this humble corner of cyberspace confidently predicts that Colombia's James Rodríguez will win for his (1st) goal against Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup Finals. ...for what it's worth, this humble corner of cyberspace has called the last three winners of the award correctly."

Make that four in a row, because a few minutes ago, James Rodríguez was awarded the gong.

In another non-shock, CR7 won the 2014 Ballon D'Or. And rightly so.

UPDATE: Yeah why not, here's the FIFA youtube vid of the winning goal. Enjoy, it's a thing of great beauty.

Message for Maria Paola Mejía

That contract you entered into in May 2013 definitely said "for richer or for poorer".

Do Not Feed The Animals, Vancouver Resource Investment Conference edition (from IKN296)

The intro from yesterday's IKN Weekly, IKN296

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Do Not Feed The Animals, Vancouver Resource Investment Conference edition
Last week there were a sudden crop of news releases from the moribund end of the mining world and they all started in much the same way:

“[NAME OF MOOSE PASTURE PEDDLER] is pleased to announce that it will be exhibiting at the upcoming Vancouver Resource Investment Conference on January 18 and 19, 2015.”


There are going to be a lot of stalls at this conference starting next Sunday January 18th  because we hear that Cambridge House has deeply discounted its normal exhibitors fees for certain companies (in order to keep numbers up, I’d guess), plus that it’s in Vancouver so a lot of the companies with nothing left in the treasury don’t have to fork out on plane tickets or hotels for this one. There are a few decent companies on the long exhibitor’s list (1) and the speakers’ list has three or four names worth listening to from a list of maybe 40, but for the most part there’s a whole lot of dross trying to coattail on the few that will survive and thrive over the long term*. It’s also free entry for you the visitor as long as you pre-register (yes, how times change) so why not drop by if you’re a local resident? And while you tour the stalls, count up the number of times you hear that the market has bottomed and that asset values will return to junior properties this year. And how smart you’d be to be a contrarian. And how the oil price will make low grade open pit projects economically robust again. I might even do one of those bingo cards for you and stick it on the blog next week.

But more seriously, remember that the healing process in the mining sector has not ended with the tax-loss selling window and the “January Bounce” we’re now experiencing, the healing has only just begun. There are still a whole lot of companies that must die before relative health returns to the junior mining sector and most of all, the exploration sector. The days of placements for directors’ fat salary cheques must remain a remnant of the past. Do not feed the animals, but by all means go visit the exhibition next weekend and do what kids do at the zoo; point at them, make funny faces at them, laugh at them.

*Applies to companies and pundits alike

.

Rio Alto (RIO.to) (RIOM) 4q14 production

Here's the NR:



58k minus a spit and a whistle, the best quarter of 2014 and it beats upper end guidance on the year. Again.

And while you're over there at the NR check out the all-in cost guidance for 2015. Cheap gold.

Endeavour Silver (EDR.to) (EXK) 4q14 production

Here's the NR. Here's silver...


...which saw a record quarter. Now here's gold...


...which got over 5,000 ounces out of El Cubo.

Which means the headline numbers here are good, no doubts. But hey, what's this?


Been high-grading your mine much, Brad?

Argentina: Mining as a pawn in the Chubut election chess game (From IKN296)

From IKN296, out yesterday.

Argentina: Mining as a pawn in the Chubut election chess game
Some interesting developments in the Chubut region of Argentina last week. The need-to-know results of the moves for capitalists us on the outside looking in and wanting trade info:

  • It’s all about provincial governor Martín Buzzi positioning himself for a re-election bid
  • It’s bad for Yamana (YRI.to) (AUY) and its Suyai project
  • It’s good for Pan American Silver (PAA.to) (PAAS) and its Navidad project

There were two pieces of news out of Chubut Argentina for mining last week, both on January 8th. Firstly the governor of the province, Martín Buzzi, signed a decree (10) that bans mining activity in the Western mountainous region of the Chubut province. Secondly (11) he signed a decree stating that there would be local referendums on mining projects in the province on October 25th, with each zone affected by a project allowed an up/down vote on whether it goes ahead, run concurrently with the national Presidential election set for that day. Those are the facts of the events, now for the reasons:

1)      Martín Buzzi is an ally of presidential candidate Daniel Scioli, is from the Kirchnerite FpV wing of the Peronist party and is looking for re-election in October.
2)      He’s up against ex-governor of Chubut Mario Das Neves, who is also a Peronist but of the “traditional” section of the party which is opposed to the Cristina FpV brand.
3)      Up until recently it’s been assumed that Das Neves would beat Buzzi easily in October and become governor once again, but Buzzi staged a strong comeback in 2014 to the point where he’s a live candidate for re-election in October. Whatever happens from here, it’s going to be close between the two.
4)      Therefore Buzzi has started positioning himself for the campaign by enacting policies that please local electorate. Hence the two moves on the mining industry last week.

At this point we step back and explain a little about the make-up of Chubut province, which can basically be split into three parts. 1) The eastern Atlantic coast, host to the main cities and majority of the population. 2) The central “Meseta” zone, sparsely populated and with little industrial or employment activity, it’s a classic looking Patagonia semi-desert/semi-tundra region. 3) The western mountainous area, with small towns and a developed agro/tourist industry (well known for its winter ski resorts and lakeside retreats, for example).

We can go into other niceties of the province but it’s time to cut to the chase, keep on-topic and talk mining. The East coast population tend to be left of centre politically and are normally anti-mining by choice (though not to a militant level), but the weight of population makes that moderate anti-mining preference important. The central zone population, though small, is known to be strongly pro-mining because it offers the only hope of meaningful and gainful employment and would provide a strong economic boost to their area. Plus on an enviro level there is less to totally screw up (real world practical). The West mountain/foothill populations are clearly anti-mining in the majority (though there is a pro-mining movement among them, it’s not 100% anti) because they have a good thing going with eco-tourism and agriculture and putting it bluntly, don’t want to screw up their good thing and pristine environment (and hey, anyone who’s toured the lakes area will know how damn pretty it is).

Therefore and playing the political numbers game, Governor Buzzi knows that anti-mine is a vote-winner in the Andean zone, therefore he’s decreed the whole zone free of mining. He also knows pro-mining will be a vote winner in the centre so he’s going to let them vote in a referendum that’s purely local in nature and doesn’t let the mildly anti-mine East join in to sway things. Yes it’s blatant political maneuvering to the point of populism, but what else do you expect from Argentine politics in a key election year?

The upshot of the Buzzi moves last week, apart from the complaints from the opposition (I particularly liked the anti-mining UCR party’s call that having local referenda on mining projects was “immoral” (12)) is that some mining projects in Chubut have a more promising future than others. The Navidad Silver/Zinc/Lead project in the central Meseta zone will probably get a green light from the people that live there. However the projects in the Andean foothills such as Yamana Gold’s (YRI.to) (AUY) Suyai project (previously named Esquel and run by Meridian) has just been handed another big red light, even though YRI insist that the project is very different from the one previously blocked by a referendum a decade ago and is far more eco-friendly. Other mining projects such as certain uranium deposits are now halted from development in the West, too.


That’s the situation in Chubut province today, but it also provides a taster of the type of upset and shifting ground that will be part of the Argentina political scene in 2015. Mining is going to be used as a pawn in wider election fights in many provinces, of that we should be in no doubt.



1/11/15

The IKN Weekly, out now


IKN296 has just been sent to subscribers. The main event this week is a look at Lake Shore Gold (LSG.to), which I enjoyed putting together because I learned a little about the company along the way.

Alexis Sanchez's goal

I could watch this all day. Brilliant

UPDATE: The Vine's been taken down, see the goal here instead


You won't see a better striker's goal all season. These are the ones that never win 'Goal of the [preferred time period] Award' but can only be scored by the best players at their best. First Alexis' feet, then he spots the goalie maybe 10cm further left than he should be, then he skins the defender alive by faking right and shooting way before anyone expected. To be fair, the defender (Shawcross) did everything correct but ended up despairing with outstretched arms in the style of a new age gospel preacher.

PS: In other news, while playing at home and fielding players of the cost likes of Di Maria, Van Persie, Mata and Rooney, Man Utd end up with zero shots on goal and a 0-1 loss. Zero shots on goal. Zero. Hah.