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A new LatAm blog in town?

I hope so.

The name is Structurally Maladjusted and it's an English language blog on LatAm affairs. By the looks of the first few posts it passes the snark-test with flying colours, so let's hope the dudes Gringo Juan and Jakob can keep it going. Nice stuff on the Chile quake and also on Hillary in Brazil amongst the offerings.

Go check it out yourself. Here's the link again, just in case.

Jim Schultz talks common sense on Bolivia, coca, cocaine and drugs

A recommended post right here, as Jim Schultz of The Democracy Center, Cochabamba Bolivia, looks at the recently published US State Dept narcotics annual report, zooms in on the samo samo written about Bolivia, notes the samo samo used as counterpoint by Evo&Co and then cuts to the chase. His six points of "things experts on all sides really know but daren't say in public" are spot on. Here's the 6th of the six as a sample:

6. If the U.S. is genuinely serious about its drug problem then it should stop a decades-old show called the War on Drugs, and adopt a series of public policies that nearly every serious analyst knows is the most effective course, including: free drug treatment for those addicted the moment they ask for it (because that's when it has a shot at working); treating addiction as a disease instead of a criminal offense; and sucking billions of dollars out of the hands of criminal syndicates and into the coffers of public treasuries by legalizing marijuana, regulating it, and taxing it.

Go read the whole thing on this link.

That was Hillary in LatAm

Clinton didn't visit Colombia or Peru

Mark Weisbrot wrote a good summary article of the visit of US Sec State Hillary to LatAm this week. Before handing the space over, a comment: If Hillary is the yardstick, the US attitude to the region hasn't changed one iota, both on a political/diplomatic level and on a public level. On the diplo side, Hillary is still trying to push the "good left/bad left" agenda of the Dubya years, which is naïve at best. It just doesn't work like that round here, as she found out to her cost in Brazil. The pushback from the Brazilians was polite (because Brazilians are polite by nature) but on a protocol level the message translated as "Time for a nice cup of STFU". She left Brazil looking nothing less than stupid and the Chávez quip about Clinton being "a blond Condoleezza" was to the point and wittier than his usual bludgeoning sense of humour.

On a public awareness level too, the song remains the same. Put into a nutshell, the US doesn't give a crap about LatAm (if you watch US news channels you'd hardly know she was down this way) however LatAm does care a lot about what Hillary said and did, being the spokesperson of its rich, powerful neighbour that has a history of thuggish behaviour in what it still believes is its back yard. The verdict down here, even from those sympathetic to the US cause, was that the trip was a diplomatic net negative and stirred up more ill-feeling than it dampened. Weisbrot hits the nail on the head in his last line of the article, "This story may not get much US media attention, but Latin America will be watching.". So now it's time to read the whole thing, which can also be found at the original publication here. Enjoy:

Hillary Clinton's Latin America tour is turning out to be about as successful as George W. Bush's visit in 2005, when he ended up leaving Argentina a day ahead of schedule just to get the hell out of town. The main difference is that she is not being greeted with protests and riots. For that she can thank the positive media image that her boss, President Obama, has managed to maintain in the region, despite his continuation of his predecessor's policies.

But she has been even more diplomatically clumsy that Bush, who at least recognized that there were serious problems and knew what not to say. "The Honduras crisis has been managed to a successful conclusion," Clinton said in Buenos Aires, adding that "it was done without violence."

This is rubbing salt into her hosts' wounds, as they see the military overthrow of President Mel Zelaya last June, and the United States' subsequent efforts to legitimize the dictatorship there as not only a failure but a threat to democracy throughout the region.

It is also an outrageous thing to say, given the political killings, beatings, mass arrests, and torture that the coup government used in order to maintain power and repress the pro-democracy movement. The worst part is that they are still committing these crimes.

Today nine members of the U.S. Congress - including some Democrats in Congressional leadership positions -- wrote to Secretary Clinton and to the White House about this violence. They wrote:

"Since President Lobo's inauguration, several prominent opponents of the coup have been attacked. On February 3rd, Vanessa Zepeda, a nurse and union organizer who had previously received death threats linked to her activism in the resistance movement, was strangled and her body dumped from a vehicle in Tegucigalpa. On February 15th, Julio Funes Benitez, a member of the SITRASANAA trade union and an active member of the national resistance movement, was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on a motorcycle outside his home. Most recently, Claudia Brizuela, an opposition activist, was murdered in her home on February 24th. Unfortunately these are only three of the numerous attacks against activists and their families..."

Secretary Clinton will meet Friday with "Pepe" Lobo of Honduras, who was elected president after a campaign marked by media shutdowns and police repression of dissent. The Organization of American States and European Union refused to send official observers to the election.

The Members of Congress also asked that Clinton, in her meeting with Lobo, "send a strong unambiguous message that the human rights situation in Honduras will be a critical component of upcoming decisions regarding the further normalizations of relations, as well as the resumption of financial assistance."

This was the third letter that Clinton received from Congress on human rights in Honduras. On August 7 and September 25 Members of Congress from Hillary Clinton's own Democratic Party wrote to her to complain of the ongoing human rights abuses in Honduras and impossibility of holding free elections under these conditions. They did not even get a perfunctory reply until January 28, more than four months after the second letter was sent. This is an unusual level of disrespect for the elected representatives of one's own political party.

For these New Cold Warriors, it seems that all that has mattered is that they got rid of one social democratic president of one small, poor country.

In Brazil, Clinton continued her Cold War strategy by throwing in some gratuitous insults toward Venezuela. This is a bit like going to a party and telling the host how much you don't like his friends. After ritual denunciations of Venezuela, Clinton said "We wish Venezuela were looking more to its south and looking at Brazil and looking at Chile and other models of a successful country. "

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim responded with diplomacy, but there was no mistaking his strong rebuff to her insults: He said that he agreed with "one point" that Clinton made, "that Venezuela should look southwards more . . . that is why we have invited Venezuela to join MERCOSUR as a full member country." Ms. Clinton's right wing allies in Paraguay's legislature - the remnants of that country's dictatorship and 60 years of one-party rule - are currently holding up Venezuela's membership in the South American trade block. This is not what she wanted to hear from Brazil.

The Brazilians also rejected Clinton's rather undiplomatic efforts to pressure them to join Washington in calling for new sanctions against Iran. "It is
not prudent to push Iran against a wall," said Brazilian president Lula da Silva." The prudent thing is to establish negotiations."

"We will not simply bow down to an evolving consensus if we do not agree," Amorim said at a press conference with Clinton.

Secretary Clinton made one concession to Argentina, calling for the UK to sit down with the Argentine government and discuss their dispute over the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands. But it seems unlikely that Washington will do anything to make this happen.

For now, the next crucial test will be Honduras: will Clinton continue Washington's efforts to whitewash the Honduran government's repression? Or will she listen to the rest of the hemisphere as well as her own Democratic Members of Congress and insist on some concessions regarding human rights, including the return of Mel Zelaya to his country (as the Brazilians also emphasized)? This story may not get much U.S. media attention, but Latin America will be watching.


Fifty years ago today...

....this photo was taken.

Spain's 'El Pais' with the Spanish language report of how Alberto Korda took the shot (and plenty more besides). Bina has a whole post in English on the story behind the photo here.

The Friday OT: Glen Campbell; Wichita Lineman

I know I'll get a kneejerk "WTF Otto?" from a section of regulars for this choice, but you really need to hit that play button, dudettes and dudes. Hey I'm no C&W fan myself, but quality beats genre every time. In this take of the classic you'll get one of those sumptuous around-ten-years-ago slick TV productions (I think it was taped 2002), but you'll also get:

  • A fine orchestral arrangement of the song. Pros at work.
  • An artist that totally owns this song. I heard the writer of the song, Jimmy Webb, sing this on a show a while back and it was way too cheesy. But not only does Campbell's singing voice match the sentiment of the lyrics, he also lives the song for you and can extract the juice from it.
  • It's also easy to forget that Campbell is a great guitarist, but in this recording it shows. The guitar break he puts in is short but he makes that instrument sing and seemingly effortlessly, too. The mark of a great guitarist is to hear a chord or two and say,"Ah! that's Carlos Santana/Jimi Hendrix/Angus Young/Eric Clapton playing". Glen Campbell has that too.

This is a great song, sung by a great artist who was having a great night and backed by great players. Enjoy.

Trading Post (brother's birthday edition)

Happy birthday Andy! Damn you look sexy for someone so old.

Amarillo Gold (AGC.v) up 4.3% at $0.73. One word from Fulp on that there teevee machine and the stock does more volume in 5 minutes than it has in the last five days. Hey AGC mgmt, how about thinking of a investor awareness campaign some time this decade? You still want proof of effectiveness?

Eurasian Minerals (EMX.v) up 5.3% at $1.80 and more proof that Mickey Fulp moves markets. His slot might have been short but it was nicely done. Let's hope we see more of his face on bizTV going forward, cos the whole sector is in dour need of straight shooters.

Fronteer (FRG) up 7.0% at U$4.77 on the back of more very solid numbers from the Sandman project. Good company doing it the right way and as close to blue chip as a junior PM explorer gets.

Troy Resources ( up 4.2% at $2.01 basically because it has rallied nicely the last couple of sessions in Oz. TRY has been a bit of a quiet fellow recently, a theme we'll pick up on this weekend.

Dia Bras (DIB.v) down half a penny at $0.20. DIB had more good newsflow yesterday on the Cusi silver project that saw price and volumes rise nicely, but the stock hasn't managed to follow through today. Those that can actually read balance sheets (instead of pretending to read them) would do well to check over this company's fundies. It's not the same company that it was even one year ago (let alone two years) and that's a wholly positive thing. An under-the-radar stock worth some time, so DYODD, dude.

UPDATE: Here's the link to Fulp's appearance. His segment starts at minute four.

Antares Minerals (ANM.v)

ANM.v, Feb 21st to date

People tell me I need to sell the subscriber service harder, so even though I'm not very comfy about shoving a big marketing spiel down people's throats here's a half-hearted attempt.

Antares Minerals (ANM.v) was first analyzed and called a 'buy' in The IKN Weekly on December 6th when the stock stood at $1.42 (we only ever have a max of 15 buy recos, by the way). But here's what was said on the stock as a small section of IKN42, dated Feb 21st. The stock stood at $1.70 at the time.

Antares Minerals (ANM.v): Ducks in line

I want to take a moment to emphasize my confidence in the current investment in Antares Minerals (ANM.v). Yes, I am long. Yes, it’s already a top pick selection. Yes, the whole investment was outlined in the NOBS report in IKN32 (if you’re new round here and want a copy, just say the word). But every now and again, and it doesn’t happen very often, my feelings on a stock go from strong buy to “man, I just have to pound on the table about this one as hard as I possibly can”. The last time it happened was in Dynasty Metals in December 2008 (DMM was at $1.40 or so at the time). There have been a few other occasions but I don’t want to fill up this report with “hey-look-at-me-aren’t-I-wonderful” types of commentary about past trades that have worked out well.

The point is that Antares has that “ducks in line” feeling about it, right here and right now. Therefore this short section is the sound of me banging on the table about the stock and waiting to see how the next few chapters of new resource number plus PDAC plus Xstrata at Las Bambas plus continued strength in copper plus beginnings of market awareness in ANM all combine.

ANM.v now trading at $2.41, which is 69.7% up from the original buy reco in December and 41.8% up from that table-banging of 12 days ago. What's more, subscribers know the target is plenty higher. The next Weekly, IKN44, is out Sunday.

Brien Lundin forgets to mention ATW Gold (ATW.v)

In this week's interview over at The Gold Report we get the views of metalhead Brien Lundin on the market, gold, silver and the ways to play via several junior miners. However, in the puff-piece report Lundin somehow forgot to mention his previous hot pick ATW Gold (ATW.v). Strangely, he's been very quiet on the stock for about five months. Ever since the scam was revealed and the frontrunning insider sales noted by the world, Lundin seems to want to forget all about his previous über-bullish calls on the stock that include (courtesy blog ATWGold):

  • July, 2009 (ATW.v $0.72): ATW Gold Corp. (TSX.V:ATW) Lundin says it is one recommended from the outset. It has entered gold production now and he doesn’t think that its value in the market is recognized yet.
  • August, 2009 (ATW.v $0.59): Buy ATW Gold Corp. The newsletter editor tells his readers that ATW remains a stong, up-and-coming gold producer that “stands to benefit greatly from the gold bull market still to come.”
  • September, 2009 (ATW.v $0.56): Refresh buy of ATW Gold Corp. Lundin says the company is a growing gold producer and it remains a buy.

For the record, that last call was just a few days before ATW revealed it wasn't a growing gold producer, but in fact a rapidly shrinking gold non-producer. Those three calls also came at the same time as the rounds of heavy illegal, frontrunning insider stock sales made by ATW.v directors Harris, Norman and Bowering that weren't revealed to the market until well after the fact.

As it happens, I'm quite certain that Lundin wasn't in on the scam and wasn't trying to rip anybody off. He was just stupid. So the question you need to ask is whether you trust the present and future stock picks of a guy that's so easily fooled by a junior promo scam and patently dishonest management. Another question to ask is whether Lundin is better served by his attempts to ignore a bad call until people stop bugging him about it. Y'know, it kinda occurs to me that maybe perhaps maybe it'd be better for him to be a man, stand up, say "I got it wrong" and apologize. Nobody's perfect, so why fake it Brien?

Sheesh, for a while there I actually thought John Paulson was smarter than the rest

You can see John Paulson's thought process. What with his highly touted gold fund only attracting minimal business (he's put up U$250m of the U$340m in capital so far from his own pocket), Paulson has worked out he needs more leverage to gold to get the punters to bite. Fair enough, because if you think about it for more than a second all that Paulson's gold strategy has offered 3rd parties so far is a 1:1 levered gold why pay a fund manager his 2/20 when you can get precisely the same deal by buying the gold ETF (GLD) yourself?

So Paulson starts looking round for leverage and right at that time, guess who's hanging in NYC?


Yeeeeaaah baby, Rick van Alphabet in da house. The result is watching yet another $100m get thrown at the biggest gold confidence trick of the 21st century. Paulson, I really thought you were smarter than to be suckered in by a snakeoil salesman. Here's the NR, out last night:

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - 03/04/10) - NovaGold Resources Inc. (TSX:NG - News)(AMEX:NG - News) today announced that it is proposing to issue 18,181,818 common shares of the Company at a price of US$5.50 per common share for gross proceeds of US$99,999,999 (the "Offering") to several investment funds managed by Paulson & Co. Inc.

The Company intends to use the net proceeds from the Offering to fund general exploration and development on the Company's advanced properties including Donlin Creek, Galore Creek and Rock Creek, its early-stage Ambler property, and for general corporate purposes, including funding yada yada continues here

Chart of the day is....

...copper inventories (but this time it's interesting, promise). Here are the latest numbers out of LME...
...that show a big drop Thursday, right on schedule and to plan*. We've been proponents of Twin Peaks for the long chart for a while...

....and it's starting to play out. For sure you can't judge this on one day's data but you can see the rollover starting to manifest. Redstone over at Desjardins is beginning to look smarter than the field.

*what could possibly go wrong?


The last post....

....for today, anyway.

It's a quiet type of day and there's not that much doing, so this humble scribe is going to grab an overdue haircut, a plate of fish and some time out.

One thing to say: Don't miss Mickey Fulp's appearance on BNN Television tomorrow (i.e. Friday 5th) at 11:40am (EST) as The Mercenary One expounds on the mining market for your delight and education.

Newsy on Chile's post-quake looting

This 2:52 video from newsy dot com is a good compilation of reports from the major English language world networks on the looting happening in Chile (esp Concepción) at the moment.

Nice'n'concise and balanced, too. Thank you reader R for the headsup.

Think Zinc

A very good Reuters report out yesterday that covers the International Zinc Conference happening this week. The note quotes Brook Hunt's Christopher Parker (now corrected from 'palmer'...oops sorry Chris) pretty extensively and here are a couple of excerpts. Metalheads should take time out to read the whole article, however. Plenty of food for thought and recommended reading.

China's emergence as one of the world's leading economic powerhouses and premiere driver of global zinc demand will set the industry standard for years to come and dictate where future market balances will lie.

"Like it or not, China has truly become the most major force in the world of zinc," said Christopher Parker of Brook Hunt


Following a year in which the price of zinc CMZN3 rallied over 140 percent, Chinese mine production grew by only 7.6 percent in 2007, substantially lower than the 12 percent annual average of the previous four years.

"Finally, we have some proof, some firm evidence that China is not a bottomless pit of ever-expanding mine production, and there is now less ore available to be accessed by the swing capacity of the small mine sector," Parker said.

"The next period of super-growth is probably dependent and must await the identification of new ore deposits and the development of new mines."


Casey Research, Idiots on Colombia (this week's coveted award)

A really, truly amazingly stupid piece of "research" has been published by the dumbasses over at Casey Research. Authored by Andrey Dashkov, it's the most pathetic attempt to pump up their sagging Colombia junior miner portfolio yet. Jeesh, these guys must be in a serious hole due to the crap they've bought. There's so much to laugh about in Dashkov's report it's tough to know where to begin, so let's just keep it to the level of "show them the dumbassery":

1) The title of the piece is "Columbia (sic): A New Gold Rush?". Yes indeedy, these freakin' experts on the country can't even spell the name of the place right! Another spelling mistake that shines light on their fake expertise is found in paragraph three, where "guerrilla" is spelled with just one "R". This might not sound like much to you, kind and gentle reader, but it's a really clear tell to anyone versed in Spanish that the author doesn't have a clue about the language used in the country of focus. So you profess to be an expert on Colombia but you can't speak the language? Yeah right.

2) Once again, we're told that all the trouble is caused by Marxist terrorists. Yet again, not a single peep about the far right wing terrorists that cause just as much mayhem in the rural areas of Colombia (i.e. where the gold is). In fact, Dashkov seems to fudge the word paramilitary with the word Marxist and has no clue about the difference between the two. Newsflash, dumbass; these people exist in large numbers today and are running drugs right through the places that you want to invest in. And they're toting guns. And they don't give a shit about Socialist policies.

3) We're told by this note dated March 3rd that Uribe might get his way with the constitutional change. O RLY? Somebody tell this guy about the news out of Colombia on February 26th? JEESH!!!

4) We are treated to a freshman dialectic device as old as the hills. This one is the "well, people say that things are bad. This might be true, but point one point two point three etc etc point ninety-seven". By making single mention of "la violencia" (WTF!) Dashkov then believes he has the right to wheel out point after point of the good stuff without decent examination of the negatives. Assholes, greenhorns and sheep, queue here.

5) We get a lot of charts that mostly show percentage changes and no absolute figures, a tactic that always smacks of BS when you know how stats work. But we also get a line that goes "The Colombian economy has fared better than its Latin American peer group" which isn't backed up by any sort of proof. This is because it's utter bullshit. Here's the real story, as shown by quarterly GDP for Colombia as measured by the Colombian gov't DANE stats office (known for their independence and accuracy unlike the BS merchants of Argentina, Peru etc):
Yup, a clear hard landing and pathetic 2009. The first three quarters of 2009 aggregated a -1% drop in GDP. As for "faring better than the LatAm peer group", how about Panama at +2.4%, Argentina at +0.1%, Peru at +0.9% etc etc ad infinitum and star of them all Bolivia at +3.7%.

Andrey Dashkov, you win this week's coveted award. You win it because you're a bullshit liar, a shame on your industry and a fake know-all about a country you clearly know nothing about. Drink your own Kool-Aid but don't brainwash others. Enjoy, dumbass:

Chart of the day is...

....the British Pound (GBP), 60 minute chart.

How they screamed and screamed on Monday about the GBP dropping 20% from here. Funny how the prophets of doom can't seem to keep the headline spaces to themselves for very long, innit?


Kaption Kompetition: The Results

We had a whole hatful of entries for our caption quiz yesterday that had to put words into this picture.
Before we get to the winning entry, deserved shoutouts for:

Bina, getting all political (as usual) with:
Hillary: "Yes, this time we're really more imperialism. Really! Hope 'n' change, baby!"
Cristina: "Oh Hill,'re killing me..."

Reader 'J', a dude with a memory for detail (and gossip scandal) for:
Hey Hillary – did you borrow that blue dress from Monica?

Reader 'M' with a taste for current affairs and Argy gossip with:
6 words to my hermana gringa: "carne de cerdo, bueno para todo"

Reader 'JC' who was perhaps the most forthright. I really can't put up his caption here but I can put up the comment he added to it:
(inappropriate for publication, but no doubt true)

Reader 'S', a dude with a taste for the Kafka with:
Klishtina: "And then the pool boy says, `I am running an independent agency and I don't have to do what you say'"
Hillary: "I hope you put him in his place!"
Translator: "Oh did she ever!"

To be honest, reader 'S' nearly won the prize cos he was the only one who put words in the mouth of the translator, but in the end the WINNAH WINNAH CHIKKIN DINNAH GOES TO TWEETIE, surely a human being destined for greatness if the wit and smarts shown here are any guide. Tweetie wins with:

Really excellent, tweetie (and the more you know about Argentina the more you'll appreciate the fine-tuned humour contained in that single line). Congrats on the fine result and thanks to all for the guffaws this end, including the entries that didn't make the finals board. All good stuff.

Trading Post (spock edition)

Dorato Resources (DRI.v) up 8.5% at $0.89. So let's go over this again; the company gets its licence indefinitely suspended when at 82c and then two weeks later trades 10% higher. That's illogical, captain. Nothing like a one-sided round of bullshit and a whispering campaign from people that have been 100% wrong so far to get the Kool-Aid flowing, is there? You long this stock? You mad. Just ask IAMGold why it retired from this region last year to know your real chances of success. Possibility of mine being built in Cenepa zone Peru is precisely zero percent. That's all you need to know about this stock and any other junior pretending that it's got a winner around that region.

TheNewCrystallex (EC.v) down 5.4% at $0.87. Darn, I cudda sworn this thing was at 97c when we last spoke. Hold was! Wasn't it nice of those fine upstanding gentlemen to finally inform their flock about the Alca snafu this morning? You just know a company has its shareholders' interests at heart when it takes three days to pass on material changes.

B2Gold ( up 1.4% at $1.41 but was trading higher earlier. The company released an update report this morning linked here. and the thing I liked most about it wasn't the details (though the Orosi/Libertad news was definitely positive and the other sections weren't bad at all, either). Nah, the thing I liked is that the company gets all business out the way in one comprehensive news release. It's not trying to drip-feed the market with bullshit NR after bullshit NR over a period of weeks and months like so many other juniors. BTO goes "look, here's what's happening at the company, all the info you need in a nice, clear and transparent way. Go deal with it". It's far more professional the BTO way, folks.

Nevada Copper ( up 3.6% at $3.50 on the back of a 4.18% Cu over 29.7m drillhole. that's worthy of a pop like this, infill or not.

Antares Minerals (ANM.v) up 9.1% at $2.29. Wabbitz!

Like holding a cork underwater

The financing closes, the overallotment is fully taken up, the arbitrageurs have nothing left to play with and here's the result:


It's nice to have the best small silver miner back in play after a month of quietness. Top volume too, with well over 1m shares done in the first two hours of playtime today. Don't forget to check out the new CIBC coverage on Fortuna ( Disclosure: long (since like forever dude)

Fulp does Amarillo Gold (AGC.v)

If you're wondering why Amarillo Gold (AGC.v) has suddenly managed to catch a break, get a few bids and move up today (we're $0.69 up 6.2% and with various buyers) after going through such a deathly quiet patch, it's probably due to this very well written report from Mickey Fulp on the company that went out to his subscribers last night (it's free to join his list, bargain in junior mining).

So click that link and get your copy of the AGC.v report and get wise to this Brazil gold play that's been way under the radar for way too long.

Morgan Stanley on Colombia: The refreshing taste of financial honesty

On February 28th, Morgan Stanley came out with a new call on Colombia, which you can read pasted below (or download the single page PDF with a single piechart worth looking at here).

Colombia Strategy. Uribe denied re-election bid; Underweight Colombia

Investment conclusion: Political uncertainty in Colombia is rising and should limit short-term market performance. We reiterate our Underweight rating on Colombian equities and we will wait for an opportunity to buy the market when the local IGBC falls below 10,000 points (15% lower than the current 11,725-point level).

What's new: Colombia’s constitutional court ruled by 7-2 against conducting a referendum on allowing President Uribe to seek a third term in office. Recent polls suggest Mr. Uribe would secure almost 50% of the vote intentions in the May 2010 Presidential election. Hence, we believe the court’s decision leaves the country with a political overhang in the short term
(Exhibit 1)

What this means for the market: We think the political uncertainty – the top four Presidential candidates combined have only 38% of the vote intentions in recent polls – will weigh heavily on the equity market over the next two months. The IGBC has been the best performing local index in the region (up 7.2% in U.S. dollar terms) year-to-date and it is now due for a correction, in our view.

What’s next: On the political front, there are two near term events to watch:

1) The definition of the government’s new Presidential
candidate. Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel
Santos, from the “Unidad Nacional” party, seems to be
the strongest contender; and

2) Congressional elections scheduled for March 14.

The above shows the difference between the entangled web of lies known as politics and the refreshing honesty of the world capital markets. Or put more simply money talks, bullshit walks. While political analysts wring their hands over the loss of Uribe as President and have been trying to wrestle with the whole "3rd term not good for democracy in Colombia" compared to their gut feeling 'Uribe good' malarkey for months on end, the financial sphere just cuts to the chase. Morgan Stanley (and nearly everyone else out there in moneyland) would much prefer Uribe to play the dictator card, stay in power, screw over democratic niceties and KY Jelly the country's constitution yet again because it'd be good for their bottom lines.

That's how it is, like it or not,Oppenheimer. The USA likes a "good" LatAm dictator installed for decades on end. It's only when a "bad" dictator like Chávez turns up on the scene that cries and squeals for democratic process drown out the sound of the cash till. Morgan Stanley has that crystal clear when it calls the decision against Uribe running again as bad for biz. I applaud MS for telling it like it is and laugh out loud at hypocritical western media.

Chile earthquake: A must-read analysis

The best analysis on the Chile earthquake by the best analyst in Chile is yours for the reading here (permission granted by the author). Published yesterday evening, it's Armen Kouyoumdjian at his incisive, irreverent and politically incorrect best. Enjoy

Big Earthquake in Chile, Many Reputations Killed

By Armen Kouyoumdjian (kouyvina at cmet dot net)

March 2nd , 2010

It is my habit to react quickly to major events, but an 85-hour power cut in our neighbourhood made me incommunicado by any electronic means, also cutting me off from TV coverage. We were also without water for much of that time. My main source of information were the two groups of radio stations which worked in chain and provided an excellent way of keeping in touch with what is going on. Now that services have been restored, here is my first look at the events of the past 4 days. I am glad to say that both myself and my family, as well as our house, suffered no consequences to speak off.

I am not a seismic engineer, but some years ago I undertook a fairly extensive study about the possible effects on Chile of a major natural phenomenon, for the InterAmerican Development Bank, so I am fully aware of various technical aspects. I even think I mention there the particular risk of the Concepción area, (I have to find the file, but I just want to prevent the Roubini-type aparecidos, who will claim they all forecast it. An Israeli-born Turk! No faltaba menos. How much lower can you get?). However, this paper will mainly concentrate to other aspects.

THE QUAKE AND ITS COVERAGE From what we hear, the strength at the epicentre of this quake was the fifth most powerful since records have been kept. Also, the extent of the areas touched was unusual, ranging from the capital and central coast down to the south-central area of Concepción, the country’s third largest town, and surrounding areas where the main thrust was.

For many journalists, both Chileans and foreign, the whole exercise for evaluating the damage was the body count. With the Chilean toll so far under 800 (but due to augment as many Tsunami victims have yet to be accounted for), when set against the 300,000 deaths of Haiti, the conclusion should be that “we’re OK, then”. With all respects to those dead, they have no more links to this valley of tears, and it is better to concentrate on those alive, and the physical damage.

The self-serving conclusions that came out of this misreading were amazing. Several publications talked about the “little damage” due to the quality of Chilean management. One publication even headlined “Milton Friedman Saves Chile”. All forecast “a quick recovery”. Well, let us look at the truth, starting with just the earthquake damage.

On an early estimate, half a million dwellings may have been damaged beyond repair, leaving some 2 million people (one in eight of the population) homeless. Luckily there is still three weeks to summer, though the weather down South knows no seasons. Another million houses may have been damaged. Only 7 % of dwellings in Chile are covered by earthquake insurance.

Much of the road infrastructure in the epicentre region is in a bad way. Unfortunately, it is where forestry and other activities take place. The country’s main harbours have had their moorings and jetties damaged, and are operating at best at half capacity. The wine industry has suffered an estimated U$ 600 million of damage, just as the grape harvest was starting. This is equivalent to half a year of exports, for a sector already beleaguered by competition and an overvalued peso. The fruit export industry is also in dire problems as power shortages and transport difficulties will affect the massive export trade.

With the US and several EU countries having advised against travelling to Chile, where the airport is unlikely to be operating in both directions until Friday, seminars, business and tourist trips have been cancelled and more will follow. Many tourists used to head towards the epicentre zone, but even in our neighbourhood Valparaiso, 400 kms from the centre of the quake, no less than 17 hotels have been damaged. The airport terminal building, operated by Vancouver airport, is a disaster area, and passengers are being processed in a tent on the tarmac. That is how it happened in the 1920’s. The fuel tanks are also damaged. There used to be another airport in the south of Santiago, but it was dislodged to favour some property speculators with links to some high officials.

In Viña del Mar, no less than half a dozen high rise buildings of recent construction have to be demolished, as will several in Santiago too. Even dwellings which are OK from the outside have suffered major damage to the contents, which not everyone can afford to replace. In my son’s bedroom, a printer flew from a shelf onto the bed at the other side of the room, one of the few such examples we suffered, but most others were not so lucky.

Public buildings gave not fared better. Shopping malls, theatres, historic buildings and even the Congress building in Valparaiso (where the March 11 change of government is to take place) and the seat of the foreign ministry in Santiago are in doubt. The newly built legal centre is close to collapse. Remember all this is 400 km away from the epicentre. You can imagine the state of houses and public buildings in the south. An 84 km underground water pipe supplying much of the Valparaiso area has a long stretch of damage, and we will have to be without water for a new bout of 48 hours when they decide to repair it.

In a country where most of internal merchandise moves by road, the situation of the roads is bound to affect the flow of the supply chain at all levels.

In all the country, 17 hospitals are heavily damaged of which 11 probably beyond repair.

THE DAMAGE’S CAUSES Chile has strict anti-seismic construction norms, but much of the damage in the south, and older properties in general, were built before the norms, or from materials such as adobe (sun-dried mud bricks), which do not resist well. Inspection quality is not that good either through municipal personnel, and that of concessioned infrastructure either. Two stretches of the new Santiago ring road collapsed. These types of constructions were built under the “supervision” of 22-year recently graduated female Spanish civil engineers who were sent to Chile by the company actually holding the concession, but were more interested in spending time in Bellavista night spots picking up who they would shag that night. They had neither the experience nor authority to impose proper quality control on the already careless Chilean worker. A disaster waiting to happen.

THE OFFICIAL CALLOUS RESPONSE Except for the foreign journalists writing rubbish from their desks in Brooklyn and the aptly named Foggy Bottom area of Washington, there is a consensus that the official management of disaster relief has been, to put it mildly, seriously lacking.

There are various reasons. One is laziness, particularly because there was less than 2 weeks left of their tenure, so ministers, undersecretaries and other non-established employees basically did not care much. Many were on their last days of summer holidays, and they would be damned if they were going to explain to their wife and children that they had to get home 48 hours early because 2 million people were homeless and hungry. Applying this warning to the likes of France, Spain and Italy (referring to August), this habit of closing down the fucking country, office or institution for a whole month and go away has to stop. IT HAS TO STOP!”. You can take holidays in the Summer only one year out of two, and the hell with what your spouse and children think. Government officials, senior staff, medical personnel and other such important people will have to be obliged to work one summer out of two, and those who are away be locumed by someone of their own level. No minister to be replaced in the interim by a director general (that would be lucky!), no admiral by a Lt. commander, etc..You don’t like it, become a beach bum. Life does not stop because you are in Gstaad, Cancun or Buzios. When people ask me if there could be another Allende in Chile, I generally answer that I do not think so, but I do wish there is a Pol Pot.

Specific ministers showed where they priorities lay. The Defence minister delayed his first press conference because “I need a smoke first”. He might as well have smoked the whole packet because he then spoke to say that “a tsunami in Chile is the same as a tsunami in Burundi. “. Burundi being a country with no sea-shore, it would have been a difficult contest, but I could not write to El Mercurio to point to the failures of the teaching of geography in the country. It took four days for another reader to do so.

René Cortazar, minister of transport and telecommunications, two areas particularly crucial to the situation, was seen jogging near his house a few hours after the quake, instead of being in his office. Possibly the prize goes to the Interior Minister for commenting: “24 hours after the quake is too early to start looting in despair”.

It is not that nobody was expecting them. Emergency “committees” were organised years ago. Coastal cities have signs (bilingual if you please) advising the “tsunami evacuation route”. I think it was Von Moltke who said that “no battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy”. I would add, “particularly in Latin America”.

The same specialist fire teams which were sent to Haiti only a few weeks ago, were ready to fly to look into a Concepcion building where 90 people were trapped. It took over 2 days to fly them out, and when they arrived to Concepcion airport, they found out that no ground transport had been arranged to take them into town. Once they started working, their equipment became useless but there were no replacements. There was also no fuel.

THE VIOLENCE On April 6, 2008, nearly two years ago, I wrote a futuristic paper about a Chile overtaken by uncontrollable violence, in 2010! Though it was kindly translated in Spanish too and widely circulated, nobody took it seriously. If you apologise for your past indifference, you can have a copy, but let me cite an extract (written TWO YEARS AGO).

“However, the most serious situation was in the Eastern residential suburbs. The protesters had reached 100,000, and it was not a demonstration, nor a riot. It was an uprising. The crowds went through district after district, looting, raping, burning and killing, but not before asking for the keys of all the cars parked outside, which they filled with all the goods they could carry. Police forces were sent in quantities, but they had neither the numbers, nor the equipment (and even less the enthusiasm) for a pitched battle of such proportions”

Armen Kouyoumdjian Chile 2015: The Alternative Scenario (The Uprising of Winter 2010)

The year 2015 being the finality of the events was taken in parallel with a very optimistic paper (in fact written in a psychedelic trance) by a Chilean academic economist, which predicted that in 2015 Chile would be like Switzerland whereas the rest of Latin America, dressed in rags, would be fighting over stray rats to eat. I wanted to give the alternative scenario. Interestingly, the economist lives in the USA.

For nearly three days, all law and order broke down in Concepcion and surrounding small towns. Gangs of several dozen started by looting supermarkets, initially to look for food, but then moved on to more expensive goods like electronics and clothing. Then they looted the chemist shops and the petrol stations. When there were no more businesses to loot, they started to enter private houses, both abandoned and occupied, and took away anything which had survived the quake. This then extended to parts of Santiago, not just the suburbs but some central parts of the capital.

The authorities thought they could control the situation by trebling the number of police, but the looters hardly took notice. In one area the police intervened not to arrest the culprits but ask them to queue and loot in an orderly fashion in order to avoid a stampede (I am not inventing this, I assure you).

It is only on the third day that the military, initially 6,000, now up to 14,000, entered the area, and imposed a curfew, but as far as business is concerned, most of the damage was already done. It is not clear if the insurance held by the large companies whose premises were affected includes riots and such public disorder. An initial estimate of their exposure (which is not the same as the amount of damage) by Chilean insurers is for U$ 2.6 bn of claims. Many if not most small businesses are not insured against anything.

As a result of the violence, many people (including 90 % of the staff at the country’s largest public hospital, which happened to be in Concepcion) have stayed away from work to protect their family and belongings. This causes many other problems.

THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE ARMED FORCES Many people were surprised as why the armed forces, whose every purchase from the satellite to helicopters is described as designed to help with natural catastrophes, took some three days to get involved.

Before that, there was the incident about the tsunami alert. There is the old American joke about the sign hanging over a bar, which read: “we have an agreement with the banks : they do not sell beer and we do not cash cheques”. It is not clear why in the XXIst century the navy should be in charge of civilian coastal matters, but quite frankly friends (and many are well known to me), please stay away of meteorology and seismology . I often laugh when in the early morning the local radio says the Navy weather service is predicting a cloudy day with no sunshine, when I see a bright blue sky from my window. As for earthquakes, there are just 7 specialists in Chile, and their number should be increased and a separate service set up.

This being said I do believe the Navy’s version that they did warn of a possible tsunami, and it is probable that the authorities decided to ignore it (“we did not understand it” was their excuse, although it was pretty clear), in order to avoid a “panic” (obviously considered worse than many deaths), but even more probably because they could not be bothered with all the logistics of an evacuation.

Now to the involvement of the military in relief logistics and maintaining order. On the first aspect, they cannot take initiatives of that kind without civilian orders. The air force said it was ready with all its available aircraft (what there is of it, how long are we going to wait before the Russian helicopter contract is signed? What were any helicopters doing when so many towns and coastal villages were isolated by road?), soon after the quake, but nobody told them to transport anything.

On law and order, the matter is more sensitive. The analysis that follows is my own for which I take sole responsibility. With states of exception and curfews imposed, and a shoot to kill policy, and despite the different circumstances, the similarity with the Pinochet years makes them nervous. In recent years, hundreds were prosecuted and many jailed for abuses, true enough, committed during the military government. However, the judges’ wrath was limited to the uniformed executors whereas the civilians who gave the orders are prosperous politicians, businessmen, or consultants (or all the above). The military once again were made to carry the can for protecting the private sector from the “Bolshevik hordes”, and got a kick in the back as a thank you. It is very easy to kill innocent people in the midst of looting and rioting, and I can quite understand that they were reluctant to be involved. On the other hand, their strong participation now has allowed them to show that far from being obsolete, they are still very much needed institutions.

The Navy and the Air force have particular problems. The navy’s major base in Talcahuano, the port city of Concepcion, including its ASMAR shipyard, were heavily damaged. ASMAR repairs and builds vessels for other countries too. The Air Force has to decide if it cancels or maintains the FIDAE 2010 air show, due that the end of march. There is no news if the ad hoc installations in the base next to Santiago airport were damaged to any extent, and the slow return to normality of the airport itself is a hindrance. On the other hand, preparations by organisers and exhibitors alike are very advanced and a cancellation may mean a loss of credibility and put at risk the whole future of the show.

THE REACTION OF BUSINESS A lot of businesses (in some small towns near the epicentre, and in Concepcion itself) have been pillaged, so the shortage of supplies has been accompanied by a rise in price, just in areas where people lost everything. From bread to public transport, prices have as much as doubled.

Big business has also been its usual heartless self . When asked by the government to donate food for distribution, Horst Paulmann of CENCOSUD, the Gauleiter of retail in Chile, answered that they would sell it to the authorities and it was up to them if they wanted to donate it. He also insisted that the press should not cover lootings because “it encouraged others”.

THE END OF MODERNITY AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES Thank heavens for small mercies, at least the quake happened before any nuclear power stations were built. With the same approach to security, we would all be irradiated by now.

The Piñera administration will have to reshuffle its whole game plans and instead of progress and modernisation, will mainly have to reconstruct and heal. The only way they can show they are different is to build real houses rather than shacks. Prospects are not good, as it has not been done in other earthquake zones when only a few thousand people were involved. What about two million?

Let this tropical striptease by the “modern” country the OECD thought it was giving its membership card to, be a lesson to all the blind analysts and journalists. I am also appalled that all these countries who always claim they have no money to pay for modest consultancy fees suddenly find millions to help a country’s inept management, on top of inviting them to freebie trips abroad. Just wait until you ask me for help next time. I will shake more than a terminal Parkinson patient.

HUEVADA DE LA SEMANA To all the useless idiots who thought life was limited to mobile phones, Facebooks and Twitter messages. The emergency and police services who replaced their old fashioned radios by mobile phones, were left high and dry like eunuchs at an orgy. Now people use their mobiles to communicate, to take photographs, to listen to radio or loaded music archives, as an alarm clock, a torchlight and even as a sexual stimulator, they should realise that once the power runs out you have NOTHING. If I had no power for 85 hours in an undamaged house 400kms from the epicentre, just imagine how easy it is to communicate in the Concepcion area.

This was another warning by the Gods to those who think they have dominated the elements nad all aspects of life.

FROM PSALM 5:5-6 “Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing”

Fortuna Silver ( CIBC joins the party

So let's see what CIBC thinks of Fortuna Silver ( all of a sudden:

  • As of March 2, we are initiating coverage of Fortuna Silver with a Sector Outperformer rating and a 12- to 18-month price target of C$3.75, which is based on a 2011E P/CF multiple of 10x and a P/NAV multiple of 1.7x. Our multiples reflect excellent growth tempered by the stature of the company.
  • We believe Fortuna has one of the best operations teams in the junior silver producer space, which is evident by unit cost control at Caylloma and the free cash flow generation over the past three years.
  • In 2010, we believe that production growth will trump almost all other valuations and that Fortuna will deliver this growth with the commissioning of the San Jose project, which is expected to be in commercial production in late 2011.
  • Flexibility and exploration upside at Caylloma, combined with additional precious metals revenue from San Jose, give Fortuna the ability to match production with prevailing metal prices and ensure high operating margins into the future.

So nice of them to join the party. Get the full analysis as a PDF download from this link right here.

Chart of the day is.....

...silver hourly.

One week ago I said on these pages that Ag was going over U$17/oz. Not to put too fine a point on it, I was right. So another heads or tails toss-up called well. Big deal, toot freakin' toot.


Trading Post (the warmth of the sun edition)

Copper Mountain ( up 2.6% at $2.39. I haven't caught up with the presentation myself yet (far too busy with the important stuff of playing with kids on a hot summer's day) but I've been told by two separate mailers that did a great job at its BMO presentation in Miami yesterday. The downside? Liked by the can of corn. DYODD, dude.

Mag Silver (MVG) up 1.8% at U$6.80. Still not setting the world alight (as it darn well should, given the rocks) but has been moving up slow'n'steady for a week now.

Animas Resources (ANI.v) down 1.1% at $0.455 on normal volumes. What is it with ANI these days and why is it trading like a dog? The people are solid and the plan makes sense, so let's keep watching those drill returns. No position here and no rush to buy, either.

TheNewCrystallex (EC.v) up 2.1% at $0.97. So any news on that deal with Alca that was delayed once and then subject to "a new closing to be on or before 28 February 2010"? Long term shareholders already know what it feels like to be slaughtered by Slaughter. Nothing changes much, does it?

Fortuna Silver ( news

News is good. The financing has closed right on schedule and the full overallotment has been taken up. Here's the company blurb:

Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. ("Fortuna")(TSX:FVI)(BVLAC:FVI) is pleased to announce it has closed the previously announced public offering of 15,007,500 common shares at a price of $2.30 per common share for gross proceeds to Fortuna of $34,517,250 (the "Offering"). The Company filed a final short form prospectus in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario in connection with the Offering on February 18, 2010. CIBC World Markets Inc. and Canaccord Financial Ltd. acted as co-lead underwriters in connection with the Offering together with BMO Capital Markets (the "Underwriters"). The Offering includes the exercise in full of the over-allotment by the Underwriters.

The net proceeds of the Offering will be used to fund construction of the Company's 100% owned San Jose project in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico and for general corporate purposes.

The looting of Concepción, Chile

Chile's second largest city has suffered from plenty of looting in the last 72 hours. Last night another 7,000 troops were ordered into the city to "restore order" (gov't phrase) after one particular incident caught major headlines. A four-storey Alvi department store in the city centre was set on fire by looters (by throwing a molotov through the window) after being sacked as an attempt to cover their tracks and the whole thing went up in flames, spectacular-style. Five other large stores were attacked in the same way, but those fires were brought under control.

There have been calls from some quarters (amazingly enough, the biz community) that say the looting hasn't amounted to much. This may be, but it doesn't explain why populations are now grouping together at night, lighting bonfires in their neighbourhoods (for lack of street lighting) and forming what amounts to vigilante groups to protect their properties from the looting gangs. The need for food is one thing, but there are no empty bellies in the earthquake zone of Chile, unlike that of Haiti. The "need" to steal a laptop or an iPhone from a department store comes from a different level of the human psyche.

This corner of cyberspace has made mention on more than one occasion that the GINI coefficient of Chile is the second highest in all LatAm (the highest being Paraguay), which indicates that the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' in Chile is very large. Yes for sure the country has grown economically, but there's clearly a large section of Chileans that haven't been included in the franchise. All this came to mind when reading this report in Clarín this morning that smacks more of truth than a lot of pro-Chile rah rah supporters would like it to. Here's an extract, translated:

"New sackings and the later arson of a supermarket and store in the city of Concepción and thefts in broad daylight in coastal towns affected by the tsunami such as Talcahuano and Coronel, saw (president-elect Sebastian) Piñera demand more hardline actions. "Re-establishing public order is primordial", he said soon after hearing that the army had not yet mobilized the 10,000 soliders that President Bachelet had ordered in.

"What this tragedy has laid bare is the profound social divisions that still exist in Chile despite all the efforts of the last 20 year of successive Concertación (centre-left, pro free-market) governments. The first government of Patricio Aylwin managed to raise nearly 30% of the population out of the poverty brought on by the Pinochet dictatorship. The work continued to greater or lesser effect in the successive governments of Frei, Lagos and Bachelet. Above all, Chile has seen substantial macroeconomic growth that has allowed large amounts of lower middle class socioeconomic groups to be included in the formal economy. But it has not been enough. In the last three days thousands of people from the most unprotected social classes, who mostly voted for the Concertación according to polls, have started an previously unheard of pillage. Piñera will assume the presidency next week with the enormous challenge of facing a collapsed country with material damage estimated at U$30Bn and a social division that had not expressed itself in such a crude manner until the ground began to shake a little before 4am on Saturday."

It's Kaption Kompetition Time!

Oh noes! The esteemed readership of IKN (that means you) is called upon once again to add free content to the blerg. All you need to do is send in to the normal address (or post in the comments section) what's being said in this photo, taken yesterday:

The best entry gets its own post tomorrow evening (to give time for the e-mail readers to have a crack tomorrow morning). And yeah, there's a prize. A big one. Errrr.....I'll think of something.

Chart of the day is..... futs, daily candle.


News roundup (we snuffle better than a truffle pig)

A single photo to sum up the aftermath of the Chile quake? Robert Funk got it

Win 25 ounces of silver just by signing up for NRs from a junor miner IR company. That's U$412 of metal but if you win it don't sell cos it'll look real chunky-pretty. Oh yeah, one thing; residents of Canada only.

The reason Petaquilla Gold ( has been dropping recently? According to Panama's Prensa, it's because convicted narcotrafficker Richard Fifer wants to sit in the big office again and has been causing seven types of caca at head office, puking and farting all over the people that previously eased him out (which made the stock shoot up).

Some NASA boffin says the Chilean earthquake has altered the earth's orbital axis by eight centimetres and made the days shorter (by the amount of time it takes light to travel across a soccer pitch or summink, but hey....all good scientifun). Just thought you'd be interested.

Ecometals (EC.v) misses another deadline. Surprised?

Things are back to normal in Honduras

The terror of a police state has returned.

On Feb 24th, Claudia Larissa Brizuela, 36, was shot dead by masked assassins when answering her door in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. She was the daughter of the well-known social activist Pedro Brizuela, one of the leaders of the Honduras movement "Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular" (FNRP) that also counted on Clarissa as an active member.

The assassination came the day before a large protest march by the FNRP in Honduras. It also came on Clarissa's 36th birthday. She leaves behind a husband and two sons, Said, 2, and Eduard, 8.

This is the third openly political assassination recorded in Honduras since new president Porfirio Lobo took power. The other victims, Vanessa Zepeda and Julio Fúnez, were also killed in similar style as Clarissa, the M.O being a small band of paramilitaries that used multiple shots to the head at close range.

Antares Minerals (ANM.v) updated research report

Peru copper plays seem all the rage this morning, what with Chariot selling to the Chinese and Antares (ANM.v) up over 11% right now on the (kinda delayed) reaction to its very smart resource update published Friday.

If you want to find out what George Topping of Thomas Weisel thinks of the ANM news, why not click this link and download your copy of his update, out last Friday. Makes for interesting reading.

Chariot Resources ( the latest copper buyout

the five year chart

Here's the link, here's how the NR starts:

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 1, 2010) - Chariot Resources Limited (TSX:CHDNews; "Chariot") announced today that it has entered into an arrangement agreement (the "Arrangement Agreement") with China Sci-Tech Holdings Limited (HKSE:985) ("China Sci-Tech") pursuant to which China Sci-Tech has agreed to acquire through an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary, by way of a court-approved plan of arrangement (the "Arrangement"), all of the issued and outstanding common shares of Chariot at a price of $0.67 in cash per common share (the "Consideration").
continues here

So much for my thoughts in IKN43 about this one possibly dragging on (but I did get the buyer nationality right....that was easy, though). The announcement also coincides with the first day of activity of the new Free Trade Agreement between Peru and China....nothing like a bit of symbolism, is there?

The deal values at a touch under $245m mkt cap. Lukas Lundin will be glad to see the back of this one.

Uruguay gets a new Prez

Pepé in action

José Alberto Mujica Cordano, known to friend and foe alike as 'Pepe', takes Uruguay's top job today. Aged 74, he's the oldest President in Uruguay's history, from the same party as the very popular ougoing Prez Tabaré Vasquez and also the owner of a good turn of phrase. This morning Pepé told the press corps, "Today is heaven, tomorrow begins the purgatory."

So what's the feeling about mining amongst Ecuador's indigenous population, Otto?

Weeeeell...things could be better, has to be said.

Here's an excerpt from IKN43 out yesterday. In the subscription weekly there's a whole analysis of the situation that follows the translation bit here, but that's not going on the open blog. You have Ecuador exposure in your portfolio? Take a good read of this:

Ecuador: CONAIE agrees and makes its final declaration

As reported last week, Ecuador’s indigenous umbrella group CONAIE has been in extraordinary general meeting to decide its position vis-á-vis the Correa government. On Friday it issued its final declaration (11) which is currently only available in Spanish but I hear an English version will be available soon. The declaration has 21 points, from which I’m selecting the ones that matter to us interested in the extraction industries.

1) End the dialogue with the National Government due to its lack of political will, disrespect for the rights of indigenous nations and peoples and for showing no type of result in the dialogue process to date.

2) Invoke a plurinational uprising in Ecuador coordinated with distinct social sectors and preceded by protests and concrete actions, against the neoliberal and extractive policies applied by the government of Rafael Correa.


14) Prohibit the entry and interference of governmental authorities in indigenous territories, as a show of our collective rights, indigenous justice and right to freedom

15) Declare null and void the adjudications, concessions and authorizations for mining, petroleum, forestry, environmental service, pharmaceutical, hydroelectric and mangrove industries made by the Ecuador state in our lands and ancestral territories.

16) Demand that the constitutional court answers our petition of unconstitutionality and other actions made public by CONAIE concerning the Mining Law, the executive decree on intercultural bilingual education, Codenpe, the environmental licence for (petroleum) block 31 and other demands made by CONAIE.

17) Expulsion of national and international mining and petroleum companies located in indigenous lands and territories.

18) The defence and of non-admission of mining, petroleum or forestry exploitation by national and international companies in the Wuaorani territory made up of 32 peoples, including the voluntarily isolated peoples (Tagaeris, Taromenane, Oñamenani and others) that hold an ancestral possession of more than two thousand hectares where block 31 and ITT is located.