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intelligent silver

It happens occasionally on the interwebnetpipes; every so often, hidden amongst the ridiculous silverbuggery and all-gonna-die hype, somebody publishes a piece of excellent writing on silver. Via Yukon Cornelius, please take time and read this post by Costata over at the FOFOA blog. It'll take you a while but it'll be worth every minute, as it's truly the best piece I've seen on silver for many a moon.

Peru Prez Poll, Round Two latest numbers

This chart generated from the numbers out of reliable pollster IOP (part of the U. Catolica in Lima), with interviews taken between April 30th and May 3rd and published this Saturday morning.

You want a close race? Here's a close race for yaz. All the details in the IOP page right here.

PS: The full survey PDF is here


There are a few sportspeople that transcend their chosen game and leave their fingerprint on sport itself.

But rare is the sports player that transcends all sport and leaves a fingerprint on humanity.

Severiano Ballesteros, 9 April 1957-7 May 2011, Q.E.P.D.


The Friday OT: Neil Young; Rocking In The Free World

Just a great, great song and as relevant as it was 20 years ago.

Play loud. Then go to school and get to be cool.

We would now like to welcome you back to...


It's been a while since common sense was seen round these parts. Better late than never, I suppose.

liveblogging the Goldman Sachs AGM

No, no me here, but NYT's Dealbook is. Could be a lot of fun once the floor is open (up to now its been agenda protocol-esque). Check it out here.

More fun than watching a precious metals rally, right? Right?

Worse than being in Peru, Bear Creek Mining (BCM.v) is in a part of Peru where locals don't like mining

The southern reaches of the Puno region is where Bear Creek Mining (BCM.v) wants to start its Santa Ana mine, but things aren't going so well for the company on a community relations level right now. Just last month there was a protest against the mine that paralyzed much of the region and left one protester dead after clashes with the police (she inhaled too much of the tear gas the police fired at the crowd and didn't make it through, sadly) and now the protests are about to start up again. As of next Monday May 9th locals are staging an indefinite strike to demand the total withdrawal of Bear Creek Mining from the Santa Ana project....put simply, they're not wanted round there.

Disclosure: No position in BCM.v, but I do like the stock for its larger Corani project and so one of these fine days I might go long if it gets cheap enough.

Chart of the day is....

...WTI crude oil futures, dailies on the June'11 contract:

I look at this and think "mmmm...input costs....mmmmm"


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Strong agreement

From this article written by Chris Mayer

One of my favorite investors was Phil Carret, who died in 1998 at the age of 101 and who worked at his art until almost the very end. He witnessed more than 30 bull markets and more than 30 bear markets over a lifetime of investing. Warren Buffett admired him, often inviting him to Berkshire's annual meeting and calling Carret the "Lou Gehrig of investing." (Gehrig was the "Iron Horse" of baseball, before his consecutive games played record fell to Baltimore's Cal Ripken Jr.).
When asked on the Louis Rukeyser show in 1995 what was the single most important thing he had learned about investing over his long career, Carret had a one-word answer: "Patience."

Mass hypnosis fail of the day....

...comes to you from the earnings report published this morning by Endeavour Silver ( and the comments therein of company Chair & CEO, Bradford Cooke.

Brad Sez:

"Endeavour posted great financial and operating results in the First Quarter, 2011."

The Market Sez:

An Owl Sez:

Otto sez: DYODD, dude.

How Casey Research fakes its track record, part two

We've already noted one of the slimeball techniques used by the unaccountable Casey Research to bullshit itself and fake its track record in this previous post, now here comes another example of their lies and deception. The following mail was recently received from reader "R", who wishes to remain anonymous being a subscriber of Casey Research's  'International Speculator' (IS) service.

In the following mail, R explains just how Casey's IS editor and liar in chief Louis James fakes his track record. At this point, it's best to make clear that I have edited R's original mail in order to strip it of any source of IS and brushed up the script a tad. I then passed the edited version of R's mail back and have received permission from R to post it as seen. In other words what you're about to read is 100% the message in R's mail.  Read on.

Hi Otto,

I don´t necessarily have a negative stance towards Casey, being an International Speculator (IS) subscriber for a year or so now. I'm a newbie everywhere in mining world and can´t judge. But here´s something that makes me angry. For a few weeks I lost track a bit of their recommends and so just recently I noticed a new IS recommendation for Pretium Resources, So I checked it out on the Casey site:

"First Recommended 2011-01-05  at $6.20"

So I went to the January 2011 edition of IS but found nothing. On further checking of my reports I found that it's only featured in the February 2011 IS. Here's what was written in the Feb 2011 edition:

"Bob has leapt back onto the stage, buying these gold assets from SSO and putting them into a new gold company: Pretium.
We spoke with Bob about this last month, after the January issue of IS was already out the door, and became convinced that Pretium is going to add a lot of value in the coming months and going forward. So we put out the word to our alert subscribers, who were able to take advantage of the recent fluctuation down to almost C$6.00. If this bothers you, by all means, take a pass, but note that with gold still showing weakness, it’s possible you could get filled at similar prices if you set your sights on them and wait for the market to come to you."

That stinks in various ways. First, they would have liked to reco it to IS subs but unfortunately the letter was already sent out. Subs can't be notified by email can they? So, sorry sorry had to reco it only to the alert subs.

Second, their latest scheme is: oh boo hoo if you don't like buying after alert subs have bought you can always pass on that pick

But thirdly and that ´s what causes my anger: These buggers have the nerve to list the pick as recommended first in Jan 2011 at $6.20! That's the info in my IS account and it's not true because I was reco'd in Feb 2011. The Feb IS came out on Feb 7th and Pretium was lowest 8 CAD and generally 8.50 CAD

So later they claim a performance that has not at all happened for IS subscribers. According to them, today at $8.80 is a 42% gain calculating with start price of 6.20 CAD, while actually it has a gain of 10% at best from $8.00 and virtually nothing from $8.50.

Here is where I feel ridiculed. And sure, Casey will be all "sorry for the error" if it gets revealed. I might write to Casey but honestly, their communication politics is a bit like you never get an answer. I appreciate that you provide market transparency and track dubious behavior so I send it to you, please respect my anonymity.

Kind regards,

IKN Back. Personally, I think R is being far too kind and forgiving to Lobito and his band of swindlers and one of these fine days they're going to get a well-deserved lawsuit slapped on their lying asses. But that's just me. DYODD, dudettes and dudes.

Minefinders (MFN) ( What has it done to deserve this?

It reported a drab net profit on a bad day to report drab numbers, that's what. Luckily, we took (85% in 6 months) profits on this stock a few days ago at U$16.89 (wish I could say the same for the other stocks left in the portfolio, though).

As it happens, here's what was sent to subscribers re. MFN in a longer Flash update that covered several stocks and the Peru political scene yesterday afternoon. We do get a few right amongst the normality of drab, underperforming picks, y'see.

Minefinders (MFN)
We recently sold around 10% higher than today's close and tonight MFN reported its quarter.

It looks ok, but it's not great either. The breach between adjusted net profit ($19.0m) which backs out derivative losses and actual net profit of $2.3m was wide and won't make for great headlines. Perhaps a better gauge of the state of financial affairs is working capital at MFN, which rose $8.5m (a tad over 10c/share) from 4q10, which is kind of ho-hum. Our costs profile (mining costs + processing costs + G&A) rose from $16.8m in 4q10 to to $18.5m in 1q11, but the change in the gold/silver ratio to 44:1 makes it look like total cash costs dropped. In fact total gold Eq costs per ounce dropped $2 to $509/oz, but the costs creep is clear to see in absolute terms and in costs per tonne mined (or stacked) terms once numbers are crunched. Overall I'm glad I sold when I did.

Mining PRs and the Ottotrans™, Part 40

Our occasional series today features yesterday's NR from the serial sophists at South American Silver (, the mini-nadagold currently trying to bunko people into investing in Bolivia because it's all nice and safe and that.

This is what they wrote:
Press Release Source: South American Silver Corp. On Wednesday May 4, 2011, 6:16 pm EDT
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - 05/04/11) - South American Silver Corp. (TSX:SAC - News)(PINK SHEETS:SOHAF - News) today provided an update on the situation in Bolivia and the Malku Khota silver-indium project. Over recent days media coverage has reported that Bolivian officials were making changes to legislation from 1985, which among other things had allowed for the privatization during the 1990's of the operatorship of certain specific mines owned and operated by COMIBOL (the Bolivian State Mining Corporation), but that now are under operating agreements directly or indirectly with COMIBOL.
Bolivian government officials have confirmed that these changes are primarily focused on the COMIBOL owned mines and private investments in mining will continue to be respected. Specifically, South American Silver has been assured by government officials that its 100% owned Malku Khota project will not be impacted by these proposed changes for government owned mines. The Company confirms that the Malku Khota project is a private investment and that there has never been COMIBOL involvement in the project. The Company also confirms that its concessions covering over 50 square kilometers are in good standing.
Recently, the Bolivian press reported that the Bolivian Vice Minister of Mining emphasized the government's wishes to attract foreign investments in mining and respect legal security and private investment. In that same article, the Vice Minister further stated that the Bolivian government intends to support the development activities at South American Silver's Malku Khota project this year as one of the largest new mining projects in the country.
Greg Johnson, President and CEO of South American Silver, stated "With the completion of the recent positive Preliminary Economic Assessment study on the Malku Khota project the Company is moving into Pre-Feasibility study activities for the remainder of 2011 and into Feasibility in 2012. We appreciate the support from the Bolivian government for the development of the Malku Khota project. The project has the potential to become one of the largest new primary silver producing mines in the world and would also be one of the largest producers of the high-technology metals, indium and gallium. At conservative base-case metal price assumptions of $18/oz silver, cash flows, project valuations and rates of returns have all strengthened considerably over previous studies, highlighting the value of this long life asset. The successful development and operation of the project will provide significant economic benefits to the local region and to Bolivia as a whole."

And this is what it means:

Dear suckers: Will you please stop selling our stock? Pleeeease??

Chart of the day is....

...the USD index, weekly measurements.

One thing we can safely say about silverbugs (and most goldbugs, for that matter) is that they don't have a freakin' clue about how currencies work. The Austrian achilles heel, I suppose. So wanna tell me about how the demise of the greenback is automatically bullish for Ag one more time, guys?


There seems to be something strange about the market today

All* my stocks are going up. A weird and novel feeling.

Looks like we had to clean out the silver surfers to get something closer to logic entering the sector. Thank you guys, please call again!

*ok ok, not all of them. But enough to make me feel weird and novel

New Peru Prez Poll: Ollanta 39%, Keiko 38%

Somehow, your humble scribe has got his grubby little hands on a survey done by Ipsos/Apoyo for Morgan Stanley between April 23rd and April 30th, and it shows that the gap between the second round candidates is down to just one point, with Ollanta Humala on 39% and Keiko Fujimori on 38% You can see the survey yourself by clicking here and downloading it.

So now you know why Peru stocks are rallying today, with the IGBVL index right now up 4.41% at 20,344.4. People, I've been telling you that this one goes down to the wire for a while's time to see it for yourself. And yeah, Peru exposed junior miners are cheap right now...duh.

UPDATE: A small request. Can those of you coming in from Twitter (aka tuiteh) and/or Facebook (aka feibu) please download a copy and offer a new link from which others can download, please? My filesharing link is getting swamped and the number of downloads is already very heavy (we're into the hundreds after less than one hour) so as IKN has no wish to be the centre of a viral hit spiral, alternative places for others to download would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

UPDATE 2: Ahora esta en El Comercio aqui

Minera Andes ( Back to work at San José

The NR out of Minera Andes ( this morning was short and to the point, that the 14 day strike at its 49% owned San José mine (aka Minera Santa Cruz) was over.We got a bit more out of Reuters last night in this post, that explains the two sides are now in compulsory conciliation, an Argentine mechanism where the State takes the role of middleman and gets the two sides to agreement...most of the time. What happens now is that work continues while a 15 day negotiation process happens to reach agreement between staff and brass...hopefully. And yes, you're right, this doesn't mean that the strike is over and done with because if things go well we're all happy and if things go badly the strikers will strike again once the 15 days are over. Local press with more details can be found here and here, with the Spanish language reports noting that strikers will be paid in full by the company instead of having their pay docked as management threatened (this agreement was the basis for the unions to agree to the compulsory conciliation mechanism).

So watch this space.

Mexico's Central Bank buys 100 tonnes of gold bullion

The main LatAm goldbug story out today is that Mexico has finally done the right thing and its Central Bank is a buyer of gold. During February and March, The Mexico Central Bank (known as Banxico) ploughed more than U$5Bn into buying around 3.25m troy ounces of gold (that's 100 metric tonnes). So according to those preliminary numbers, Banxico paid over U$1,500 for each ounce (1538). Apparently the FT broke the story, but we don't link to them cos they have a stupid firewall. Instead, hear more about the news via this Spanish language link.

UPDATE: On rummaging round the Banxico website it's not easy to spot the datapoint, but it's worth noting here that Mexico's total international currency reserves (i.e. us dollars) stood at U$125Bn as at April 2011 so the gold bullion purchase works out as 4% of Mexican reserves. Hardly a game-changer in itself, so goldbugs will be better advised to obsess over the trend.

And remember to celebrate today, because today is a special day. It's....


Chart of the day is....

...the gold/silver ratio.

The 50dma and 100dma are added strictly for charties needing an excuse to find hope in the midst of a dark and gloomy world. ¡Servido!


Women in power, Americas edition

I've spent a fair chunk of this afternoon ignoring the junior mining carnage and reading this fascinating document out of Save The Children about the lot of women all over the world. From it, here's one chart generated that shows the percentage of women in national government (congress, parliament etc) for all countries of The Americas, plus one or two other well known names for reference purposes. This because I'm a firm believer that the world would be a finer place and wouldn't kill so many people if women were in charge*.

Y'see, and you didn't think The USA and Venezuela had anything in common, did you? Well they do, as in 17% of government seats taken by women. Top comes Cuba with all that Socialist equality namby-pamby, then come the Ticos and Argentina (which proves that even they can do some things right). And what about Brazil, down there at 10%?

*this is done by clear and undeniable scientific logic. A sample is taken, namely myself and my wife. I then note that my wife is a much nicer person than I am. I therefore conclude that women are nicer than men. It then follows that women should be in charge.

No wait, my mistake, THIS is the quote of the day.

With due deference to Tom Tomorrow, another quote has just surfaced that beats out his effort. Here it is:

“The [US] printing press is turning non-stop and flooding the world with dollars”

"Nothing so startling about that, Otto", I hear you cry. Fair enough, but it's who said it that's the fun part. Here's how the quote continues to give you a further clue:

“We must avoid an overvalued real and Dutch disease ... we cannot permit speculative capital to cause bubbles.”

Got it yet? Yup, it was Brazil's current Finance Minister, Guido Mantega, testifying in front of his congress today. Mmmmmm...currency wars.....mmmmmm

What CIBC thinks of silver miners

Because we at IKN Nerve Centre™ love you readers out there more than your own parents, we know you're all worried and fraught and het up about the current state of the silver market. So due to this supra-parental love we feel for you, the best thing to do is to share the report CIBC published ysterday May 2nd on the sector. 

You can download the 57 page 1.1Mb report by clicking this link right here, but to get you in the mood, here's a pasteout of the intro on page one. Please you be having nice day yes thankyou.

Indecent Silver Exposures
Can Rising Silver Prices Lift Lagging Equities?

  • As of May 2, we are rolling out our new silver price deck. Our 2011 and 2012 silver prices move to $45/oz. (from $28/oz.) and $50/oz. (from $30/oz.), respectively. Our long-term silver price moves to $30/oz. from $20/oz. As expected, this causes some changes to our ratings.
  • As of May 2, we are upgrading Silver Standard to SO from SP and Gammon Gold to SP from SU. We are also downgrading Allied Nevada to SP from SO and First Majestic and Silvercorp to SU from SP. Our top picks in the primary silver producer space remain Pan American and Fortuna Silver.
  • Our detailed analysis of silver supply and demand reveals that no additional silver investment demand is required to maintain silver prices at, or near, current levels. However, our analysis of seasonal trading patterns urges caution in the silver space for the next few months.
  • An analysis of the silver equities reveals that most are trading below 1x NAV when the forward curve is used. This implies that the market does not believe all the ounces drilled can be produced at spot prices. We concur, so our long-term silver price forecast remains well below spot.


The problem with Dacha Strategic Metals (DSM.v) is....

...that nobody seems to believe them when they talk about their net asset value. After all, if you check out the company NRs, all those exes I've put on this price chart show exactly where management says its net asset value lies on the dates indicated.

I wonder why that is, Mr Bharti?

Y'know, seems to me that this stock is a bit like living in Vancouver and wanting to cash in on the housing bubble there. I mean, if you sell your home at the current wild prices and then want to keep living in Vancouver, waddya going to have to do? Yup you got it, buy another way expensive chunk of real estate. So what happens when you have a whole heap of expensive rare metals in your rare metals trading company and you want to sell them? Yup, you turn them into cash and another heap of expensive rare metals.

Or that house-trader could always borrow money of course, that's another option. Gosh, that's a thought! Let's hope DSM.v doesn't decide to raise a shitload of fresh cash by running a large new financing and diluting current shareholders, eh?*

*Yes, that was irony. Well spotted

Quote of the day...

...goes to Tom Tomorrow, honcho of the wonderful cartoon strip This Modern World. Tom says:

"You can't trust every quote you read on the internet." --Abraham Lincoln.

Open letter to Rob McEwen (don't worry Rob, it's short)

Dear Mr. McEwen,

Have you considered sacking your IR department personnel recently?

Love, Otto.

disclosure: Still no position in

UPDATE: Well blow me down, what a coincidence! Precisely 17 minutes after this post was published, the following comes through to IKN Nerve Centre:

Thank you for your email.  At the moment it is difficult for me to comment on the situation at San Jose except to say that negotiations are ongoing.  MAI is leaving the negotiations to MSC in their role as operator while at the same time attempting to ensure that all efforts are being made to settle this disruption amicably and quickly.

Please feel free to call me if you would like to discuss further.


Andrew Elinesky

Minera Andes Inc.
W: 647-258-0395 ext 150
C:  416-904-2725

Funny dat, innit?

Big Peru booty

By way of request from regular reader/mailer 'MW', here are a couple of charts that show what's been happening in the Peru private pension fund scene these last ten years or so. This first one shows the development of the amount of cash in the system, which today stands at 83.5Bn Soles (which is U$29.8Bn and a fair chunk of change wherever you might be, but it also works out as around U$1000 for every man, woman and child in Peru).

This second chart shows the profitability of the funds. Bar the big sink due to the crisis, these pension fund dudes have been doing OK with the people's cash.
So why does IKN get reader requests on this subject now? Well, there's a lot of talk about how Ollanta Humala will tap into the AFP system in order to fund his government social programs if he gets elected come June 5th. As it happens he's been on TV and said clearly that he's not going to touch a penny of this rather large piggy bank. 

But he's a politician. DYODD.

Chart of the day is....

...the silver ETF (SLV) versus Pan American Silver (PAAS), two year timescale.

since the late '08 early '09 bottom this has been one of the classic comparative charts in the world of silver, as the metal and the big producer had been lockstep with each other for the longest time. But then in recent times....well, see for yourself:

Why is this so? Will SLV drop back to PAAS? Will PAAS move up to meet SLV? Will they meet halfway? Is the relationship broken forever? So many questions....


Colombia's rapidly growing oil industry

With the news out this morning that Colombia's oil sector managed to pump a new record average of 903,000 barrels per day in the month of April, your humble scribe decided to rummage behind the scenes and get the basic stats on how the Colombia O&G scene has been doing. This chart is the result of time over at Colombia's official ANH website:

So, we've gone from 500k/bbld to 900k/bbld in just over four years. That's cooking, but the role of the private companies seems to be overstated (eg the current Pacific Rubiales ( mania sweeping Colombia's middle class shareflipping society) because State controlled Ecopetrol (EC) is still bull goose loony, for sure.

Celso Amorim, Brazil and South American unity

Policy Journal 'Americas Quarterly' has out today an English language essay written by Brazil's Ex-Foreign Minister (under Lula) Celso Amorim. It's a very interesting read and the thrust of the text is Brazil's apparent number one goal of promoting unity within South America.

The link is here and your humble scribe recommends that you read it because it's good, thought provoking stuff.

What's going on at Minera Andes (

A big fat strike at its only working mine, that's what. We're now in the 14th day of a mine-stopping strike at the San José mine 51% owned and operated by "the JV partner from hell" Hochschild (HOC.L) and 49% owned by Minera Andes and if the meeting scheduled for 1pm local time doesn't go well, the AOMA miners' union down there in Santa Cruz Argentina plans on calling a regionwide strike to protest the bad work practices that management impose upon employees. Here's the text that appeared in IKN104 about all this deal yesterday:

Minera Andes ( San José strike in its 13th day
More details have been appearing in the local Santa Cruz press about the strike at the San José mine, 51% owned and operated by Hochschild (HOC.L) and 49% owned by Minera Andes ( It started on April 18th (recall that it was only reported by HOC.L/ after the close of market Thursday 21st April, after the market week had finished (5)) and far from getting close to a settlement, it seems that the worker’s union AOMA is considering calling a regionwide strike (6) to support the striking workers at San José and force the management to the negotiation table, something that might also happen via a government led compulsory negotiation as well.
The complaints of workers seem to have substance. There are reports of insecure working conditions at the San José mine which include an accidental death on March 12th this year (7)  which workers say was largely due to bad H&S policy and a mentality of “cutting costs at all costs” at the mine, as well as many other accidents that anecdotal evidence (i.e. from griping workers) says go unreported.
There are other unsubstantiated but reliable sounding anecdotals reaching local press (8) (9) of the mine paying workers less than the agreed salary for their jobs, making them work unpaid extra hours under threat of dismissal, going back on agreements to turn currently third party contracted miners into full-time direct employees (which brings a host of extra benefits), the systemtic rejection of any sort of pay rise negotiations by management (we recall that Argentine real inflation is estimated at around 25%) bad living conditions and a lack of uniforms and personal safety equipment for the mineworkers.
Now we know that the San José mine is 51% owned and operated by Hochschild (HOC.L), the company that Rob McEwen of (49% owner) calls “the JV partner from hell”. However, are we also supposed to believe that 49% owner of San José knows nothing about the alleged bad working conditions and cheapskate attitude towards its workforce that has led to this current protracted strike that is said to be costing the mine one million Argentine Pesos per day (around U$243,000)? If I ran a company like this and were staring at a strike action that cost my company U$1.5m so far for its 49% share, I’d personally be all over the whys and wherefores of this event. I’d also be fairly aware of the operating costs at San José on a day-to-day level. I’d also know about the safety record of the people I were paying to do the job in hand. Being non-operator doesn’t give a free pass here, sorry and all that.
There’s clearly bad feeling between management and workers at San José and although it’s unlikely to be one-way traffic and management is to blame for everything whilst the union-backed workforce are innocent lambs, things are not right and those in charge have to accpet at least some of the responsibility. What I’d like to know is just how much MAI and its famous hands-on leader knows about the whole affair, starting before the recent fatal accident (of which details were covered up for over a month by the San José management team) and moving through to today. Unfortunately at time of going to press the initial inquiry mail your author sent into has not been answered, nor has the repeat mail (best to make sure these things get through) seen an answer. Watch this space, but for the time being your author is going to do one of his pathetic “social” handwringing things and not get involved with a company that has a seemingly dubious record and bad blood to cope with at its only operating mine.

The point here is that McEwen might not be operator at San José, but he's not stupid either and this is the type of thing that turns around and bites your nether regions when you treat workers badly. Get your act together,, treat people right and the bad press will turn to good.

Chart of the day is....

...silver, because of all those phone calls received by the New Zealand stock exchange last night.

Meanwhile, news reached Washington DC last night that the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton went off without a hitch.


The IKN Weekly, out now

 ahh, they don't make 'em like they used to...thank the Lord.

IKN104 has just been sent to subscribers. It's not very good but I sent it anyway. Just the 15,205 words to wade through this week guys. I'll throw in more pictures next time.

Peru: Latest poll has Ollanta Humala 4.2% ahead

Here's the link, here's the chart:

And for those of you into details and subcharts and Spanish language commentary, there's tons of that on pages 3, 4 and 5 of today's edition of La Republica which you can access right here.