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5/28/08

Corriente Resources (CTQ.to) (ETQ): tying up a loose end

A few days ago a reader wrote in, noted that I liked Aurelian Resources (ARU.to), I didn't seem to have an opinion on Corriente Resources Inc. (CTQ.to), (ETQ) and wondered why. It's a fair question, and it was a bit rude of me not to answer (I do appreciate it when people take time out to write a mail). My only excuse is that it slipped my mind (not a great one, but honest). So for what it's worth, here's my opinion on Corriente.

I don't really have anything against CTQ per se, but it's more a question of comparatives than anything else. Y'see, the main reason I like Aurelian and have happily stuck through all the political risk of the last year or so is that the story, the project, the prospect (or whatever way you want to say it) is just too darned compelling to ignore. Not only is it one of the biggest untapped gold resources in the world at 13.7Moz Au and 14.1Moz AuEq, it's also open to a lot of resource/reserve upgrading. With the amount of work done on site and the prospects of expansion, the Fruta del Norte (FDN) site could easily top 20M oz. But perhaps even more important is the high grade of the orebody, which makes the project extremely cost effective once mining finally gets underway (and I'm quite sure it will, by the way). With ARU, there really isn't anything else out there that compares. It is, as Jose Mourinho would say, "The Special One".

CTQ, on the other hand, is one of many. There are other large/very large copper projects out there in other parts of the world that offer just as much bang-per-buck at lower political risk. Yes, I'm quite aware that Ecuador is a riskier place to have a junior right now, and especially for an open air mine project when Constitutional Assembly head Alberto Acosta (properly considered the second most powerful person in Ecuador today) continues to knee-jerk oppose the idea of the open pit system, as shown in this article dated May 13th which finishes (translated);

"....these are indispensible days to collectively make decisions about the country we love, including to decide if Ecuador should be declared a country free of large scale open pit mining."

In all this time, I've watched Acosta go from a radical green "no mining at all" stance, through a "no large scale mining" stance, through a "local people must agree to large mines via a referendum" stance to today's "mining yes, but socially responsible" stance. However, through all this backtracking he has continued to oppose open pit mining, and quite frankly there's enough risk in my life as it is without exposing myself to any more.

So when it comes to CTQ I'm neutral. Nothing wrong with the project; the numbers add up and the planning is sound enough and it's trading at a substantial discount if it gets a green light in reasonable legal circumstances. But the same thing can be said for Candente (DNT.to, CDOUF.pk), or Inca Pacific (IPR.v, IPRFF.pk) or Los Andes Copper (LA.v), or Chariot Resources (CHD.to), and those projects are in the safer (or much safer) zones of Chile and Peru. So I simply prefer to go with copper plays in less risky environments. One buy reco in Ecuador is enough, thank you.