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1/28/09

Freestuff to keep you amused


While I stretch out on a beach, here are four good links to freestuff to keep you occupied and busy reading and all that jazz. The first two are straight downloads with no catches. The third and fourth are on request basis for USA and Canada readers and if you get your free report Otto gets a small commish (so get yourself one, support IKN and get some free education at the same time).
  • Get your brochure "What is ISO-9000 and Why Should I Care?" (especially useful for mining industry readers) by clicking right here.
  • Request your copy of "Enterprise Asset Management: Maximizing Return on Assets (RoA) and Emerging Trends", an Aberdeen Group report which surveyed more than 160 manufacturing executives to understand the strategies and business capabilities adopted to maximize Return on Assets and reduce risk from failure of critical assets (which is exactly what businesses need to know in recessionary times, so get wise to this and shine like the stars that you are at the office Monday morning, dudettes and dudes).

See you back here in a week!

Vacation

Oh yeah!

As Otto is on vacation in about 90 minutes' time (the taxi's coming to pick us up) these are the last two posts for one week, or perhaps even two if we decide to stretch it out a bit. Please note that I won't even be picking up mail in my time away, thus if you write don't expect an immediate reply. So if you're sitting on a beach in LatAm in the next few days and you see a lobster shaded gringo building multiple sandcastles or just wandering around looking lost, take him to a beach bar and buy him a beer, yeah?

But do I pack the skis or the snowboard for Davos this year? The skis I think....Klosters is stuffy that way.

See you on the black run, bitches!

1/27/09

Facebook bans the EvoHaters, AP puts the story out


Looks like we just cleaned up Facebook a little bit. Nice to see Associated Press giving the story airtime, too. Nice job reporting them to FB, lillie :-) I think we can mark this one down as a small victory. Thanks MG. Here's the original post this morning.

Now let's see if the social network group Hi5 that runs the anti-Evo Morales group here (and has a certain Hony Pierola as a member) will do the same as Facebook. And by the way, why not check out Hony's page on Hi5...and if you're ever in Fairfax VA drop by and see him.

"Hi Hony I'm home!"
Hony Pierola (for it is he)

PS: It's also getting reported all over the place in Spanish, too.

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January 27, 2009 - 7:49pm

Trading Post (angels and devils edition)


The action around the three-way takeover tug-o-war that started today is interesting. As you might have expected, Central Sun (CSM.to) (SMC) is having a rocking day up 40% at U$0.51 on strong volumes in the USA (it's a supply and demand thing, ya knowz). Linear Gold (LRR.to) is down 15.6% at C$0.92 on the news that somebody else wants to swipe its low-hanging fruit. But the most interesting one is B2Gold (BTO.to) up 2% at C$0.52, which is the market's way of saying "nice move, dudes".

Another company getting plaudits is Freeport McMoRan (FCX), up 3.2% at $25.75. Considering that FCX closed under $23 last week before the operating profit and U$13Bn write down was announced (not to mention the weakness in copper today) the street's reaction has been very good indeed. Deservedly so.

Jaguar Mining (JAG) (JAG.to) down 6.1% at U$5.69. I thought I'd made a boo-boo by selling too early as I watched JAG skip and fly over $6 yesterday, but today it's come back to almost the exact point where I took profits last week. I like this company and still have it at the top of my list for takeovers. If it drops I'll buy back, no worries. Solid financials. DYODD.

Colossus Minerals (CSI.to) down 4% at $1.65. This thing made a massive move yesterday. I'm not sure why, but it had the hallmarks of a reco by one of the larger newsletter writers. There is no way in the world I can recommend this stock. The rocks are very pretty but the political situation is dire. DYODD, but this one is not for me. Don't buy, don't sell, just avoid.

Great Panther Resources (GPR.to) down 1.3% at $0.375. GPR.to shot up yesterday on this news, a write-it-for-retail special that could also be called "a golden opportunity to get out while you can". No cash at bank, a failed private placement recently and guaranteed losses while spot silver is where it is. In the words of Monty Python's Holy Grail, "RUN AWAY RUN AWAY!"

Gold Hawk Resources (CGK.v) at $0.02. For a company supposedly staring bankruptcy in the face, it's holding out very well. This is because people are beginning to work out what Auramet is up to here. Once you do, you see that CGK.v is unlikely to go to the wall (it's that supply and demand thing again, ya knowz). Check out the latest PRs from NWI.to for more details and DYODD, dude.

LatAm miners: Legalized theft update (Plexmar and Alamos Gold)

The chart from yesterday's post is now doubly true

I actually got a couple of pretty cool hatemails for this note yesterday (though one was rather over-fixated on all things anal) in which your fed-up-with-Canadian-scamsters Otto pointed out how Plexmar (PLE.v) management was treating its own shareholders by insider selling on the same day it announced (seemingly) positive news. As part of the note I also wrote, "You can't help but wonder how many more insiders are left to file their trades, eh M. Bedard?"

Well wonder of wonders, we didn't have long to wait. Sure enough, head honcho Bedard filed his latest insider trades today. And sure enough, Bedard sold hundreds of thousands of shares on January 16th, too.

Jan 26/09 Jan 16/09 Bédard, Guy Indirect Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -50,000 $0.085
Jan 26/09 Jan 16/09 Bédard, Guy Indirect Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -45,000 $0.086
Jan 26/09 Jan 16/09 Bédard, Guy Indirect Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -350,000 $0.096

Four hundred and forty-five thousand, to be exact. Now how on earth did I guess that was going to happen..............?

Now for part two, Alamos Gold (AGI.to)
John McCluskey: You know you can trust him
because he's smiling at you

And here's another company for the rogues' gallery of scam-laden management. Check out Alamos Gold's (AGI.to) Prez&CEO John McCluskey's inside sales in January.

Jan 26/09 Jan 23/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -4,900 $8.510
Jan 26/09 Jan 22/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -100 $8.540
Jan 26/09 Jan 20/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -2,500 $8.600
Jan 26/09 Jan 19/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -2,500 $8.450
Jan 26/09 Jan 16/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $8.300
Jan 26/09 Jan 15/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -4,900 $8.112
Jan 26/09 Jan 15/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -100 $8.102
Jan 26/09 Jan 09/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -8,600 $7.923
Jan 26/09 Jan 08/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -1,400 $7.850
Jan 26/09 Jan 06/09 McCluskey, John Direct Ownership Common Shares 10 - Disposition in the public market -5,000 $7.438

That little lot adds up to 35,000 shares and a gross cash total of $283,554....and eighty cents. And amazingly, astoundingly, coincidentally enough, all these sales came just before AGI.to announced a bought deal placement for 9.4m share at $8 that intends to raise $75m for working cap for its Mexico operations.

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1/26/09: Alamos Gold Inc. (the "Company")(TSX:AGI) has announced today that it has entered into an agreement with a syndicate of underwriters led by BMO Capital Markets under which the underwriters have agreed to buy on bought deal basis by way of a short form prospectus, 9,400,000 Common Shares (the "Common Shares") at a price of $8.00 per Common Share for gross proceeds of $75,200,000. The Company has granted the underwriters an option, for a period of 30 days following the closing of the offering, to purchase up to an additional 15% of the Offering to cover over-allotments, if any. The net proceeds of the offering will be used for working capital and general corporate purposes. The offering is expected to close on or about February 17, 2009 and is subject to yada yada continues here
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So let's see how that news has affected AGI.to's stock price today:


Oh Mr. McCluskey! What lucky timing you have with your sales! So mark AGI.to down as another bunch that will screw shareholders without a moment's thought. By their deeds shall ye know them.

Ecuador's mining law passed and rubber-stamped


Last night Ecuador finally got round to approving its new mining law that includes the two minor wording adjustments made by Studmuffin. It's now law. Period. Back to work everybody, let's get mining.

By now you people out there should know that I prefer Dynasty (DMM.to) as the method of investing in the Ecuador mining sector, but if you want a full rundown of potential beneficiaries, Silvia over at Ecuador Mining News has this useful list of miners with Ecuador exposure.

DYODD, dude.

Oh goody! A bidding war in the LatAm gold sector

Read the PRs yourself, but basically B2Gold (BTO.to) is trying to snatch Central Sun (CSM.to) (SMC) from under the noses of Linear Gold (LRR.to).

Here's Central Sun's PR
Here's Linear Gold's PR
Here's B2Gold's PR

This should be interesting. As mentioned on the site recently, B2Gold is a fairly new company but made up of the management team of the now sold Bema Gold, so these people are no slackers. Personally I just hope that whoever gets control of Central Sun boots out the mgmt responsible for the environmental mess known as The Limon Mine and cleans up the act over there.

Facebook will let anybody in these days

For example, check out Bolivian student Hony Piérola's idea of a voluntary organization

Click to enlarge

Here's how the translation starts:

"World Collection to Contract a Sharpshooter to Liquidate Evo Morales"

"We have to raise the money to get someone to do it.

When this group gets to the quantity of more or less 1,000 people, I will then send a message to find out if there is a volunteer amongst all of us. Then we all agree to fix a good price so that the individual liquidates the subject..."
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Now, call me an old-fashioned fuddyduddy if you like, but plotting to kill Heads of State kinda strikes me as a little bit naughty. So if you'd like to tell Hony Piérola what you think of him, just send him a mail at hpierola@hotmail.com

Or maybe you'd prefer to pass his personal details on to the Bolivian authorities. After all, the Constitution now enshrines the country as a pacifist state. I think it wouldn't be a bad idea for somebody with a uniform to pop round to Hony's shack and have a quiet word with him, don't you?

Thank you MG for passing this one on.

Argentina declares an agro state of emergency

May corn futures (courtesy CBOT)

Yesterday evening Klishtina signed the necessary papers to officially call the situation in Argentina an emergency and give financial breaks to farmers hard hit by the ongoing drought. Thus Argentina joins Uruguay in emergency status. Here is AP with last night's news and a second article dated Jan 23rd that gives good background on the situation.

Finally here's a link to a review of the CBOT corn trading yesterday. Just FYI.

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina's president declared an agricultural emergency Monday in the nation's breadbasket provinces, responding to a key demand by powerful farm organizations amid the worst drought in decades.

Cristina Fernandez told political and business leaders in a televised press conference that the decree will exempt thousands of farmers from paying various taxes for one year to help them confront what analysts estimate will be $5 billion in losses this yada yada continues here

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STROEDER, Argentina (AP) — Skeletons of livestock are piling up in the scorching sun of the Southern Hemisphere's summer as the worst drought in a generation turns much of Argentina's breadbasket into a dust bowl.

The nation's farm sector stands to lose $5 billion this year alone — a huge blow to the economy of Argentina, a top world exporter of soy, corn, wheat and beef — as well as to the government of President Cristina Fernandez, which faces billions of dollars in debt payments this year.

Wheat fields that once supplied flour for pasta-loving Argentines now resemble deserts, and spiny thistles are all that survive on cattle ranches in southern Buenos Aires province.

Nothing edible grows, said Hilda Schneider, a 65-year-old rancher who has lost nearly 500 cows to starvation.

"With the situation we're in now, without any harvest, there's nothing to do," said Schneider, one of 2,000 residents in Stroeder, a farming village suffering its worst drought since the 1930s. "We try to save the animals, which is the only thing we have left."

Nationally, there hasn't been this little rain in Argentina since 1971, according to yada yada continues here

Charts of the day are..........

......... the five year copper charts, price and LME warehouse. This post is by way of reply to a mail yesterday.


Cut the crap, stop looking wistfully over to Shanghai for any sign of an uptick and keep your eyes on inventories.

It's extremely simple, which is always a good thing. If inventories stay like this, so does copper. Any commentary you hear about a rebound in copper that does not take the above chart into account is just another case of uninformed fool grasping at straws.

Monterrico Metals (MNA.L): Seems like Peru is trying to kick the torturers out

Having a pleasant January, Bristow?

There ain't no fat lady singing yet, but check out this news report that hit the evening of Monday 26th January. Seems as though the bad publicity has finally brought the Peruvian government to its senses and they're trying to find a way of kicking Monterrico out. YAY!

It's all a bit stuffy bureauspeak, but what it boils down to is that Rio Blanco Copper (the subsidiary of Monterrico Metals (MNA.L) that holds the Peru concessions) has failed to get its Environmental Study done on time and the Gov't has just refused it extra time to get it done. So unless MNA.L has pulled a fast one with some legalese, it means that they have lapsed on the terms. That means no more soup for you and bye bye scumbags, hasta nunca, out of Peru and out of business. Now wouldn't that be sad?

Via Ottotrans™

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LIMA: The General Directorate of Mining Environmental Affairs (DGAAM) of the Ministry of Energy and Mines has denied, via the autodirectoral 0032-2009/MEMAAM, the prolonging of an extra 70 working days that was requested by the mining Company Río Blanco Cooper S.A. to comply with the 45 observations made in connection with its Semi-Detailed Environmental Impact Study (EIAsd) for the exploration enlargement project until 2010.

As is public knowledge, the observations made by the DGAAM of MINEM, the municipalities of the Piura region and diverse social organizations were to have been addressed in the lapse of 15 working days as established under the current regulations, or in the contrary, according to the ministry's own report, the EIAsd of Río Blanco Copper S.A (previously Majaz) would not be approved.

This deadline passed last Friday 23rd January. If until then the company did not present its reply or if the reply was insufficient, it is the duty of the DGAAM to disallow the EIAsd, although it is possible that the mining company present an administrative procedure desist (as it has done before) to avoid disapproval.

1/26/09

A financial must read


Mish Shedlock explodes myths and tells it like it is. This analysis is absolutely correct, so take time and read it through (it's long) because it will make you more money than any stock tip going. As an added bonus he royally and terminally sticks it up one of the most irritating of all the "dollar gonna die" shills out there. I really have to start reading mish more often.

Change we can believe in, you know

Yeah look, Bolivia is...you know... mentioned in today's White House press briefing. The spooky thing is that it was...you know... an almost positive aspect, too. That's probably because they caught....you know... acting spokesperson Robert Wood on the hop. You know? Yeah?

Here's the most vitalest piece of the transcript. Like in the end who cares about Gaza and Guantanamo and stuff? Cos look......they're not LatAm........ you know.

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MR. WOOD: Yeah. Look, we congratulate the Bolivian people on the referendum. And you know, I don’t think the results are final at this point, but we look forward to working with the Bolivian Government in ways we can to further democracy and, you know, prosperity in the hemisphere.

QUESTION: Did this – and do you have an opinion on whether this referendum furthered democracy in Bolivia?

MR. WOOD: Well, a free, fair, you know, democratic process certainly does contribute positively. What I said was that I wanted to wait until we can see, you know, the final results. But we certainly congratulate the Bolivian people on that referendum.
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The final results will be announced February 4th, by the way.

Peru: A billion here, a billion there..........

.....and pretty soon we're talking about serious money.

Remember this chart from a few days ago that shows Peru's rapidly shrinking GDP forecasts for 2009?


Well, add another notch down to that. On top of the $4Bn or so that lower metals prices are going to lop off exports, on top of the wholesale job layoffs in its industry, on top of the sharp downturn in foreign remittances at make up 2.5% of Peru's GDP, on top of the indefinitely deferred capex projects we'll be hearing about soon...on top of all that, Peru's tourist industry (as predicted) is crumbling. This report in El Comercio today has the head honcho of the Society of Hotels of Peru (SHP) as saying bookings and reservations are down 30% (yep, thirty) from 2008 levels. To get that into context, tourism in Peru was an U$8.7Bn business last year and accounted for 7.5% of country GDP.

Also, it's worth remembering that unlike mining, tourism is a very labour-intensive industry (waiters, tour guides, hotel receptionists, drivers, park keepers etc etc) and this kind of downturn will be felt keenly in the pockets of José Publico (in fact, here's a little link that explains tourism provides one in every 14.6 jobs in Peru right now).

But all this doesn't count, because Twobreakfasts said Peru is going to grow 6.5% next year and thus it shall come to pass. Or was that 6%? Or maybe it was 5%? That's what comes of pinning your growth prospects on a birdshit museum, y'see.

Petrobras (PBR): Reiterating a call


Top story on Bloomie's LatAm page today is this one linked here, which tells how Petrobras (PBR) is going on a cost-cutting crusade. Here's how Carlos Caminada and Jeb Blount start their report:

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Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, will seek to cut costs by as much as $4 billion annually to prevent debt from swelling after the company announced a $174.4 billion five-year investment plan.

Reducing costs by that amount in the next two years will be a “big challenge,” Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa said today at an event in Rio de Janeiro. Petrobras will seek to yada yada continues here

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So this gives a nice opportunity to point out what woz writ by your humble correspendent in this note way back on September 5th (which, as a sidebar, also noted the hundreds of billions of dollars PBR would need to invest going forward):

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It's at this point the plain, boring, simple fact that Petrobras is a state run company needs emphasizing. Bottom line results are not the be-all-and-end-all of PBR's corporate philosophy. Never have been and never will be. Do you honestly believe that the company will continue to pay enormous dividends to foreign shareholders while at the same time taking out massive debt lines to pay for the capex? If so, you are in for a rude awakening.

So I'm still neutral on Petrobras stock. I'm reasonably bullish on the company and what it will do for Brazil in the long term future, but because shareholders are not the raison d'etre of PBR there's no reason why you or I should prefer it over CVX, COP, XOM or whatever other bigoil takes your fancy.

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So let's see how PBR has got on versus CVX, COP and XOM since that time:


Nuff said.

Bottom line: When you see PBR "cutting costs", one of those will be not leaving money on the bottom line, too. To risk labouring the point, if you have a state-run megacompany and you have the choice between taking out debt and paying out dividends to foreign investors, the decision takes about half a second to make. IKN is still neutral PBR.



PS: Check out this five year comparative between Brazil's Vale (RIO) and Petrobras. Another eye-opener. Works just as well on a six month period, too. Think about it.



Blog from Bolivia: The book plug

Jim Schultz over at Blog from Bolivia (part of the Democracy Center) has lived in Bolivia for nigh on a decade and has been reporting from the country he loves (in award-winning style, it should be added) for longer than most of us knew the country existed. So if you want to know what's going on over there, what better way is there than to buy his new book (co-edited with Melissa Crane Draper) now available in the Americas? Here are all the details you need to know below, and details of the book tour that's about to hit the USA.

Buy yourself a book. Good for your brain and good for Jim, too.

Once again, please note that IKN gets zero kickback or commission from this recommend.
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Dignity and Defiance, Stories from Bolivia’s Challenge to Globalization

(University of California Press)

“This is the little-known story of a people that has dared to fight back against the most powerful economic forces on the planet, told by writers with the courage to dig relentlessly for the truth and the humility to stand back and let their subjects speak for themselves. Enraging, unsparing, inspiring.”

—Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine

As the U.S. enters a new political era, what can we learn from one nation’s battle to define its own way forward in a globalizing world?

Dignity and Defiance is the story of one country, Bolivia, but it is representative of many countries around the world. The book tells the story of Bolivia's citizen uprisings against the privatization of its natural resources. It travels to jungles and jails to trace the human impact of the U.S. war on drugs. It pedals by bike across the Bolivian highlands to document the disaster left behind by an Enron/Shell oil spill. It digs deep to trace how IMF economic policies led to bloodshed on the steps of the Bolivian Presidential Palace.

Dignity and Defiance also tells the story, from the ground up, of how people have fought courageously to keep globalization from swallowing their lives and to make it work to their benefit – as activists, workers, and immigrants. Ultimately the book is a story of inspiration, and it goes to the heart of what has drawn so much global attention to Bolivia.

HOW TO GET YOUR COPY OF DIGNITY AND DEFIANCE

Order the book today from (click the links):

Amazon.com

University of California Press

Powell's Books

WHERE TO HOOK UP WITH THE DEMOCRACY CENTER BOOK TOUR

"Globalization on the Ground -- What Bolivia Teaches Us"

As the U.S. enters a new political era, the lessons of one country speak volumes about how the government of the U.S., U.S. corporations, and international institutions dominated by the U.S. (the World Bank, IMF, etc.) impact the lives of people in Latin America. Join us as we visit cities coast to coast and in between to talk about these lessons and what lies ahead as U.S. citizens seek to reshape the U.S.’s role in the world. In addition to co-editors Jim Shultz and Melissa Crane Draper, we'll be joined by two great Bolivian friends, Leny Olivera of the Democracy Center, a terrific young activist, and Roberto Fernández Terán, a professor at the University of San Simón and one of our most thoughtful and insightful mentors.

Here are the main public events below. A full calendar of all the events, including a number of smaller ones not listed here, with a list of our sponsors, maps and downloadable flyers (that you can copy and post to help spread the word), can be found at this link.

February 2 — Berkeley, CA

When: 3:00 pm

Where: The University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Goldberg Room. 2778 Bancroft Way @ Piedmont Ave.

February 3 — San Francisco, CA

When: 7:00 pm

Where: Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St. (between 24th and 25th St.)

February 4 — Marin County, CA

When: 7:00 pm

Where: Redwoods Presbyterian Church, 110 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur

February 5 — Portland, OR

When: 6:00 pm

Where: Portland State University; Smith Memorial Student Union Building (SMSU) Multicultural Center, Room 228, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland

February 6 — Seattle, WA

When: 7:00 pm

Where: University of Washington, HUB 310

February 8 — Albuquerque, NM

When: 2:00 pm

Where: The University of New Mexico, Student Union Building (SUB), Film Center (lower level), 801 Yale NE, Albuquerque

[Part of the Sin Fronteras Film Festival]

February 9 — Santa Fe, NM

When: 6:00 pm

Where: El Museo Cultural, The Santa Fe Railyard

1615 Paseo De Peralta #B, Santa Fe

February 10 — Santa Fe, NM
When: 6:00 pm
Where: St John's College, Junior Common Room, 2nd Floor
Peterson Student Center, 1160 Camino Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe

February 12 — Washington DC

When: 6:30 pm

Where: Busboys and Poets, 1390 V St NW @ 14th, Washington

February 13 — Washington DC

When: Noon

Where: George Washington University (The Elliott School), 1957 E St., Suite 505, NW Washington

February 17 — New York, NY

When: 6:00 pm

Where: The New School, 66 W. 12th St., New York

February 19 — Boston, MA

When: 7:00 pm

Where: Boston University, The Jacob Sleeper Auditorium CGS building,

871 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

February 20 — Boston, MA

When: 7:00 pm

Where: The Jamaica Plain Forum

First Church in Jamaica Plain, UU

6 Eliot St. (across from the monument),

Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

February 21 — Northampton, MA

When: 3:00 pm

Where: Smith College, Neilson Browsing Room, Northampton

February 23 — St Paul/Minneapolis, MN

When: 7:00 pm

Where: Macalester College, John B Davis (JBD) Lecture Hall, Campus Center, Lower Level

February 24 — Chicago, IL

When: 6:00 pm

Where: The University of Chicago

International House, 1414 E. 59th St., Chicago

_____________________________________________________________

THE DEMOCRACY CENTER ON-LINE is an electronic publication of The Democracy Center, distributed on an occasional basis to more than 4,500 organizations, policy makers, journalists and others, throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Please consider forwarding it along to those who might be interested. People can request to be added to the distribution list by sending an e-mail note to: contact@democracyctr.org. Newspapers and periodicals interested in reprinting or excerpting material in the newsletter should contact The Democracy Center at contact@democracyctr.org. Suggestions and comments are welcome. Past issues are available on The Democracy Center Web site.

THE DEMOCRACY CENTER

SAN FRANCISCO: P.O. Box 22157 San Francisco, CA 94122
BOLIVIA: Casilla 5283, Cochabamba, Bolivia
TEL: (415) 564-4767

WEB:
http://www.democracyctr.org
E-MAIL:
contact@democracyctr.org

Chile: Gotta love the unions

With Chilean newspaper La Tercera this morning announcing that Chile's unemployment rate has climbed abve 10% and layoffs in the mining industry at 12,000 and climbing rapidly, the labour market in mapuchelandia is becoming a serious issue. So how do the local mining unions react? By threatening strikes! Here's an extract from this BN Americas report:

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"Continued layoffs in Chile's mining sector will cause workers to go on strike this year, copper miners federation FMC president Pedro Marín told BNamericas.

"If the layoffs continue, 2009 will be marked by strikes, work stoppages and protests," Marín said.

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LOL! I can just imagine the conversations between mining unions and Codelco management on this one:

Union: "If you don't stop laying us off from work, we're going to stop work."

Mgmt: "Great! Thanks! Go ahead! We're producing too much anyway, and this means we can avoid paying you without any of that mucking around with redundancy charges."

Union: We're not kidding you know...this is serious....we'll do it."

Mgmt: We can provide banners and stuff for your marches if you like.

Can somebody please take these unions leaders aside and explain to them the difference between a buyer's market and a seller's market? It's way too late to start complaining about the horrors of your country's neoliberal employment policies when it all goes sour.

Plexmar (PLE.v): Another miner to avoid like the plague

How this for an example of self-serving management that will screw shareholders at the first possible opportunity? Plexmar (PLE.v) is a junior miner in Ecuador and Peru with a very poor track record of promising much and delivering little. So when it recently announced its deal with local Peru miner Ucucha to go JV on its 'Bolsa del Diablo' project in northern Peru I had to wonder where the catch would be.

It didn't take long. On January 16th, the very day that PLE.v issued a PR to say that the contract was signed, company insider Juan Contreras (a local landowner brought in to help with communications) sold 279,000 shares into a market that peaked that day at $0.12 on very heavy volume. Here we are six trading days later at $0.075. You can't help but wonder how many more insiders are left to file their trades, eh M. Bedard? As for Contreras, what kind of message do you think he's "communicating" with his actions?


Companies like PLE.v (and there are many others) will screw you into the ground and skim money off your back for years on end if you give them the chance. So don't give them the chance. just avoid these scam ridden management teams and keep your eyes peeled for the people that care about all that come on board their companies, not just themselves.

PS: I've had an e-mail conversation with somebody I repect greatly about another company with directors caught screwing its shareholders recently. The only reason I'm not mentioning its name here is that it doens't operate in Latin America, but that company is just another example of how a decent and trustworthy management team is more important than a good project. Self-serving management teams will continue to be called out on this blog, and they can go f themselves...I'm sick to death of the scammers. Conversely the good ones will be named as good.

News from 'Investment Grade' Peru, part 829


Jacqueline Fowks at her impressive Spanish language blog 'noticias desde lenovo' brings us another tale of Peru. Remember this is the country feted by all and sundry, especially the all-seeing-all-knowing band of idiots known as economists that have been proven 100% wrong with all their models recently.

This is the country that has supposedly grown like a rocket. This is the country whose FinMin bullshit liar Luis Carranza said in November 2007 that the effects of trickledown economics were being felt by all Peruvians. All of them. Understand the word "all"? Now read on, and find out what things are like in Andahuaylas, Peru:

"...the mothers of children under two years old receive diverse aid, amongst them food complements that are not only destined for the undernourished child but also to the other children (in the family) as they do not have enough to eat, either.

The mothers comply with the program instructions up to a certain point in time, because if the children reach the age of two and have moved away from being malnutrition cases they are taken off the program. So two months before the age of two the mother begins to undernourish the child so that it stays on the list of those that receive food complements."

Remember that this is the very same region recently mentioned where women get pregnant in order to receive 100 soles per month from the government.

Viva investment grade. Viva viva viva.

Freedom (an in-house post)

"Waddya mean you don't like my make-up?"

Regular readers might have noticed a couple of changes at the site. Gone are the adverts for Fortuna Silver (FVI.v), and if you click on the Vena Resources (VEM.to) banner and read the update underneath, you'll note that the company is not a site sponsor any longer. All this capped off with the move to a larger block of Adsense at the top of the page (as an ongoing experiment). For the last time, I want to state clearly that I'm a firm believer in the future prospects of both FVI.v and VEM.to. I just don't take their advertising money any longer.

All this because IKN has wanted to be for some time and is now 100% independent of any featured paying sponsor. And now it is. The site has just kept on growing in the last few months and has reached a point where I've had to think carefully about what should be done. The first step is a move away from advertising that-or-this company and leaving myself open to accusations of bias that couldn't be addressed properly. I've had to wait until now to honour the previous deals. Expect further changes (hopefully for the better) in the next few weeks. Feedback appreciated as always, esp. from my marketing friends that jump all over me for any minor change that pops up (you know who you are).

Chart of the day is............

.....spot gold, three year timescale using weekly candles.

Only cos it's suddenly fashionable in polite circles to talk about gold. Which is kind of cute, dontcha think? Which should also get you to hit the alarm buttons an unfurl the red flags and shout "danger! danger!" at everyone you know.

Bottom line: Gold does not make you rich, it stops you from becoming poor. I own, I highly recommend that you own and frankly if you don't already it beats me why you're even bothering to listen to me this time...told you 84 times already. But don't be under any illusion as to why you should own. It ain't gonna make you rich. It's your own personal long-term and large-scale insurance policy.

1/25/09

Bolivia's vote: Surprise surprise, the losers cry "fraud"

Evo finally gets round to posting the letter
that's been on his desk for days

Early exit polls have "yes" at between 60% and 62% of the total vote, ("no" at 39% to 40%) so even if this referendum doesn't follow the pattern of previous Bolivian votes and the final score is higher than the early exit polls, Evo wins comfortably.

As for the opposition, by some amazing coincidence they all used the same fraud accusations when they went to vote.

Mario Cossio of Tarjia: "If there isn't fraud we are sure that there will be no doubt about the result."

Samuel Dorina of Unidad National: "I've asked around all the capital and provincial cities and I believe there will be a clear mesage and a surprise from a population that doesn't want experiments, doesn't want to risk its property, doesn't want to put justice at risk in Bolivia; yes it wants change but with liberty. (The majority has voted NO and) this has made the President, the Vice-President and their ministers nervous."

Branco Marinkovic: "(Bolivians have voted) without the guarantee of a transparent electoral process in the midst of a panorama of fraud; double carnetization and double registration of voters by this government with the financial help of Venezuela means nothing less than that. Be careful with your vote because there will be fraud, and ask eveeryone to be on the alert, as the audit of the lamentable OAS (Organization of American States, official overseers of the vote) is just a show and doesn't mean anything."

Against all this obvious bullshit, here's Bolivia's Veep Alvaro García Linera: "It's natural that the losers try to hide their catastrophic defeat." And the Axis of Evo himself said: "Those who feel defeated will now say that there has been fraud, in their agony and defeat. When they feel their defeat they will try and ignore he result."

So what does Rober Malaver, Argentine head of the OAS neutral observers in Bolivia say?

"The vote happened with absolute normality, transparency, control and participation."

Nuff said.



UPDATE: Check out El Gaviero, blogging in English as it happens from the opposition stronghold Santa Cruz city.

Also Blog From Bolivia is live from Cochabamba with updates that include:

"........It is doubtful that MAS opponents, especially if they lose as expected, will drop their charges of pressure on voters. But if they believe that Morales support in the rural areas of the country is manufactured rather than valid, they haven't spent much time talking to people in the countryside."

Gold Hawk (CGK.v), the Friday PR and some lines from the company

On Friday Gold Hawk Resources (CGK.v) issued this PR which basically said that the main financial debtor (Auramet) was calling in its $9.7m loan immediately instead of honouring the original Janaury 29th agreement between the two parties (which is an agreement in writing, as an aside). This is what's known as Very Bad News, as the company does not have the liquid assets to cover the liability and we're now staring a bankruptcy situation in the face.

There are a lot of different thing in play here, and although the word "bankruptcy" is not a good word under any circumstances there's more than one way this whole story can finish; I'm not going to try and second-guess, but suffice to say that CGK.v is not some sort of Enron or WaMu with a Himalayan mountain of debt and virtually nothing in the assets column. I personally feel there are more chapters to be played out with this story and will be watching things very carefully. The mineral and the renovated processing plant at Coricancha are, again in my persoanl view, too valuable to ignore and the combination will be used in the future to make metal.

However, I did receive the following mail from CGK.v IR guy, Jason Mercier. He has also kindly allowed me to re-print it here on the blog. So without further comment from me what follows is the hand of Jason Mercier. I currently do not hold CGK.v stock by way of full disclosure.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

1. Management firmly believes that our team would have provided the best opportunity to return the mine into production. It took a lot of hard lessons to understand this operation and that will all be lost without those people being involved.

2. No one can accuse the group at Gold Hawk and Compania Minera San Juan of lack of financial commitment or commitment to restarting the Coricancha mine. Management, Directors, Officers and employees (including me) put a total of CDN$1.2 million into Gold Hawk since the ground displacement issue arose in May 2008. That includes $150,000 the CEO personally contributed to make payroll and pay other crucial expenses at two different points. Unsecured; he just wrote personal cheques. Insiders own well over 10% of the shares. There are some employees who continued to work for the Company unpaid. We all believed and with each achievement, success got closer.

3. The biggest concern going forward is who will continue to treat the acid water from the mine as this needs to be treated before being discharged or it will contaminate the Lima water supply. Frankly, non-compliance would risk expose to liability (beyond the liability of paying to move the legacy tailings, ensuring the stopped hillside remains stopped, adequate site security, etc.). During the time when the plant was in production we got a lot of attention from inspectors due to our location close to the capital and the history of the operations there. I do not expect that to change. There are many operations on that river in non-compliance but Coricancha is in the minority because we A. have a permit B. are under the allowable discharge levels.

4. Our lenders have not advised us on next steps in the process and we cannot speculate. There is no question though that the fate of the Coricancha mine now lies with the lenders.