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Five days of metals and miners; December 15th

Our regular Saturday slot of the last five days' worth of action in the gold bullion ETF (GLD), the silver bullion  ETF (SLV), the miner ETF (GDX), the junior miner ETF (GDXJ) and the copper ETF (COPX).

The miners beat the metals, with wooden spoon for silverand big gold star for COPX. Gold dropped a point, juniors edged their larger cousins, Wednesday was better than Thursday. That's the Fed for you.


dead people

At one o'clock this afternoon I was picking up two young daughters, aged six and eight, from their final day at school for the year and celebrating their success in year-end exams, as well as the start of the long Southern hemisphere summer vacation period that runs from now until March. Their school is a happy place, well-run and with a strong academic reputation (no need to tell me that I'm fortunate, that's something I already know) and while waiting at the gate while the final teachers' speeches went on ten minutes longer than were planned, the way they always tend to do, the weirdest thought flashed through my head. Just for a second I thought about those mass murder gun attacks that have happened sporadically in the USA and wondered if one could ever happen in my country of adoption, my city of dwelling or even in the school I was looking at right then and there.

Of course it couldn't, was the immediate and conclusive answer. But that thought occurred to me while an atrocity was taking place in a town thousands of miles away, unbeknown to me and my blissful ignorance. I have no doubt that my fleeting thought was sheer coincidence and there's not some sort of telepathic/holistic world conscience event behind it all, because sheer coincidences work like that and otherwise you'd have to deny the existence of coincidences, something that to my knowledge only happens in Argentina. 

The United States of America doesn't have the patent and exclusive rights to weirdos, idiots and dangerous minds. There are unstable people in the place where I live, but as in most any place their numbers are a tiny fraction of society as a whole. I'm quite sure that's true for just about every corner of The USA as well, with 99.999% (add some more nines if you wish, not the point) of people being honest, law-abiding and caring people. But what The USA does offer is the opportunity for that tiny minority of unstable and potentially dangerous to get its hands on extremely effective machines of death. I'm not talking about handguns that can murder a single person as quickly as anything else ever invented by man, those machines and devices are available here and in most every country in the world if you're determined enough to own one. This is about the type of weapon that today killed twenty children between the ages of six and ten years old, the same age range as the two people I picked up from school today, in their own school in a matter of seconds and without forgetting the seven (I believe, from latest news report) adults who also died at the hands of a single deranged and insane person.

I do not have a dog in the fight when it comes to the rights of US citizens to carry arms, that one is up to you people to decide and I'm absolutely neutral on the issue. If you want a handgun on your hip, a rifle in your hands, a shotgun to protect your house and your loved ones that's your call and I honestly don't care, not in the practical or in the abstract. But please, for the sake of basic common sense and the need to keep your social fabric from being ripped even further asunder, you have stop the general sale and availability of semiautomatic and automatic weapons to the general public. This isn't party politics, it's not going to make for wholesale redundancies at Glock or Smith & Wesson, nobody will be denied their chance to shoot off rounds at the range or at some ducks this weekend. The bigger, existential questions about "why this happens in modern society" won't get answered either and again, it's not my problem and you guys can (or might) work those big issues out in your own time. The banning of semiautomatic and automatic weapons won't stop murders either and won't stop people like the insane person today from walking into a school and shooting children dead. But there wouldn't be 27 bodies now. No way, not even close.

As a child it was a normal thing to look up to The United States of America. It would be nice if you could regain that mantle so that, in the near future, my daughters of eight and six could feel the same way as I used to feel. Allowing what happened today to happen again because of the easy availability of weapons of mass murder, not just murder, will further tarnish the reputation of the country and be in no doubt whatsoever, until The USA makes a tough choice or two the killings will repeat and just one more episode like today's will mean that the twenty children aged between six and ten years old who were slaughtered today all died in vain.

PS: No comments will be accepted below this post, neither agrees nor disagrees, as I have no interest whatsoever in watching the same ridiculous back-and-forth develop on this blog that is seen in thousands of other places. 

The Friday OT: Paul Simon; Me and Julio down by the schoolyard

I've always been a total sucker for this guitar riff.

Impossible to unlike Paul Simon's 'inscrutable doggerel' and for the record, that special instrument sound is the cuica.

Rio Alto ( An Alex Black interview

Nine minutes of Alex Black, head honcho of Rio Alto Mining ( talking to a man with a microphone. It's pretty good stuff too, plenty of numberycrumchy info and updates on what the company is doing as well as Black's view on the political risk climate in Peru today, all worth your ear and eyetime. Click here, watch it yourself.

Another junior leaves Ecuador

This one is hardly a surprise, but has just been made formally known. Intrepid Mines ( ( has informed the optionee Cornerstone (CGP.v) that it doesn't want the Shyri project any more.
MOUNT PEARL, NEWFOUNDLAND--(Marketwire - Dec 14, 2012) - Cornerstone Capital Resources Inc. ("Cornerstone") (TSX VENTURE:CGP) (GWN.F) (GWN.BE) (CTNXF) today announced that it has received formal notification from Intrepid Mines Limited that it is terminating with immediate effect the Call Option Agreement between Cornerstone and Intrepid dated January 4, 2011 for the Shyri gold/copper property in Ecuador. Cornerstone will review its options concerning Shyri and make a further announcement after that review has concluded. Continues here

So how's that "we want miners in Ecuador" message working out for you, Mister Correa?

Perfect strike timing du jour, Southern Copper (SCCO) edition

News from the copper space last night is that workers at Southern Copper (SCCO), the big Cu player in Peru and Mexico, have decided to strike in demand for better pay. Apparently workers want a 15% pay rise from the company and management have only offered a 5.5% increase.

The strike is planned for December 24th and December 25th. Or in other words they're battling over pay, but can directly influence better conditions all by themselves.

Chart of the day is... that compares the 2012 price action of gold, bia the proxy GLD, to that of four companies that fairly represent high tonnage, low grade, large deposit bulk gold mining projects over the length and breadth of The Americas.

Of the four I prefer Sunward (, held the stock for plenty of time as well and even at this juncture think that it has a decent chance of making it as a real mine, thanks to its much lower capex footprint and large deposit size. However I was forced to face portfolio reality by the continued grinding down of this market and sold a number of weeks ago, which has sadly turned out to be the right decision as my sell point is around 20% higher than today's prices. So up to today I've been proven wrong on SWD but it's one that I haven't given up hope on (even though I hold no position today) as although the headline grade is low, the economics it offers make sense...on the back of a ciggypack at least. However, the other three are marginal at best, way overhyped in their time by the BS-merchants at the big brokerages and easy avoids. 


Pacific Rubiales ( in the news

Via Setty, an excerpt of this report (translated) regarding labour relations around Pacific Rubiales (
Milton Rivas was a worker and electrician for the company Termotécnica. He was known for his leadership and support for workers' rights in the region. He was part of the group of worker who had gone on strike with the objective of obtaining better working conditions for thousands of workers employed by the multinational Pacific Rubiales. 
Yesterday (Monday) Milton Rivas was stopped by two armed men close to the Termotécnica installations, who told him that if he didn't halt his union activities they were going to murder him. Unfortunately, today they made good on their threats

Another day in capital markets, folks, and just another sheer coincidence that Serafino Iacono is sitting on the board of another company in Colombia that's connected with extrajudicial killings. Yes that right, it's just a coincidence. Nothing else but sheer coincidence.. We want to make it crystal clear to Serafino's lawyers and lackeys that we're not making any connection at all between his person and assassinations in Colombia, because that just wouldn't be right, would it? Move along now, nothing to see here.

There are a thousand better things to do with your time than follow the intraday action in junior exploration stage mining companies

Exhibit A:

And a thousand is a severe understatement, come to think of it.

Primero ( (PPP) shares will drop on today's news

Just last week (December 5th to be exact), your humble scribe was chewing the cud regarding the prospects of Primero Mining ( (PPP) with longtime reader and mailpal 'GC'. Here's a slightly edited version of one of the mails sent from this desk to GC's:

It's an interesting one. P failed to buy Young Davidson, openly states it wants to grow via M&A, but with a mkt cap of ~$600m and working cap of ~$100m options look limited. So they try for a like-sized goldie and try to pay with 100% paper? Immediate share price drop. However, if I were the P CEO I'd be dying to do an all-paper deal as the stock is still currently valued up to the hilt and there are plenty of beaten down prices out there. But what to buy? Explorecos are the cheapest, but they weigh heavily on balance sheet until up and running. And i don't see many pure Au plays out there with the price tag P can afford. 

So today we get this news, as P has decided to go the all-paper exploreco-with-prospect route. The only question is whether P shares will manage to stay above $6. I reckon it's a 50/50 chance.

UPDATE: It wasn't a difficult call, now down 6.3% in early trading. But even with today's drop, having stared at the price action in P for a few weeks and for a small part of that time having shorted the stock for a small trading win (now closed, currently no position) I'd still venture to say that it's one of the most artificially inflated stock prices in the junior world right now, the epitome of style over substance.

Update 2: Pretty close original guess, in fact. It got to $6.03 before the BS spinners kicked in and pushed it back up.

OT: An interview with Alex Zanardi

Sport is everything: sport is nothing. Sport is important: sport is trivial. Sport is packed with meaning: 
sport means nothing. Sport is an escape from real life: sport makes life uncompromisingly vivid. 
Sport is packed with contradictions: Sport is the most straightforward thing on the planet.
Simon Barnes, The Meaning of Sport, 2006

Your humble scribe highly recommends this new interview with Alex Zanardi, ex-motor racer, accident victim, Paralympic gold medallist and extraordinary human being. Here's an extract

"One day during my rehabilitation I met a guy. I didn't even know what he was doing at the rehab centre, but we had a coffee and talked about motorsport.
"Two hours later I saw him with a little child in his arms and he was crying while looking out of the window. I went to see him and asked if everything was OK.
"He just turned around with tears in his eyes and said: 'Everything's not just fine, it's great. My baby was born with no legs, and she has reached the age when they can fit her with prosthetic legs. Today the doctors picked her up to stand for the very first time and they asked me where her shoes were. And I realised that up until today I had never bought my daughter a pair of shoes, and I had to rush out to get some. When I saw her standing with her new shoes I was the happiest man in the world.'
"It was hard for me not to start crying immediately but a few minutes later I found myself alone in the bathroom and I looked at myself in the mirror. I said: 'You should never shed a tear about what happened to you, because you're a lucky bastard compared with this great guy you just met.'

continues here

Chart of the day is..., dailies:

They tell me that higher lows are a good thing.


A notable absence of common sense in the English speaking world's analysis of the Chávez cancer issue

As I trawl the interwebnetpipes and read opinions on what the Chávez situation might mean for the country politically, particularly regarding the January 10th swearing in date for the new Chávez government, those that opine on these things seem to have a large blind spot in their analyses. The arguments offered by those who know better are that the hastily appointed VP position and the vagaries of the constitution all allow Chávez and his party to pull a fast one, use the grey areas of the law as stands and get an unelected official in as interim President for at least a year and perhaps for the full term.

Nobody seems to recognize that the best time for VP and acting President Maduro to call a snap election is now. With the sympathy vote firmly in the hands of the ailing President and his firm word that he wants Maduro to continue his work, if Maduro called a snap election before the January 10th date, if and when it becomes clear that Hugo isn't up to taking on a new term, the 30 day limit on the vote date (from the time of calling) plays firmly into the government's hands and if successful (and odds on it will be after the 10 point victory of just ten weeks ago, Chávez or no Chávez) Maduro will then have a firm mandate to govern.

So to everyone trying to work out "Chávez's angle": The angle you might be missing is that he and he people will do the right thing, be upfront and open and Maduro runs in a new election with Chávez's vocal support, bedside or other, rallying the troops. 

Hugo Chávez's cancer, from IKN188 and today

Here's the first part of the note on Hugo Chávez's cancer relapse, as seen in IKN188 out last Sunday:

The news last night that President Hugo Chávez has to go back to Cuba for a third round of surgery to combat recurring malignant cancer is easily the biggest political news of the week in LatAm. Professional opinion (16) from leading oncologists who have no political axe to grind is as clear as can be that if the cancer suffered by Chávez isn’t terminal already, it’s dangerously close to being so. Dr. Elmer Huerta, President of the American Cancer Society, wrapped up his report on developments in this way (translated):

“Summing up and if everything that Mr. Chávez has said is correct, it’s possible that this second return of the cancer, at only 18 months from the illness being diagnosed, is the start of the terminal stage of his cancer. If so, in the next few weeks and month President Chávez will show a progressive decline in his mental, intellectual and physical faculties.”
Add to this the way in which Chávez chose his freshly minted Vice President, Nicolás Maduro, as his dauphin who will take over the day-to-day running of the government as from the moment Chávez leaves for Cuba and was named as the man who should run for election if Chávez cannot assume his recently won Presidency and a new election is called (NB: The presidential term won by Hugo Chávez in October is due to commence on January 10th and if Chávez is deemed, or more likely deems himself, unfit to take office a new election must be called according to the constitution). This is the first time that Chávez has directly referred to anyone as his potential successor, is the biggest political news of the whole package presented last night.
We consider potential political scenarios: The first, and from what Chávez said last night perhaps the most likely while this breaking story still develops, is that Maduro operates as interim President for the next few weeks and then new elections are called, either before February or at the date, in which Maduro then runs against the recently defeated opposition leader Henrique Capriles (note: Capriles is currently running for the post of regional governor of Miranda state, a race in which he’s leading comfortably in the polls for the December 16th vote). Also, it’s worth saying that it’s much less likely Maduro insisting on taking the presidency without a new election, as that would be a constitutionally very dubious move and bound to open up the current government to debilitating attacks. Another possible is that Chávez assumes the presidency in February, governs normally for a period and then the cancer gets the better of him. If so the transfer of power becomes more of a grey area, with Maduro not needing to hold new elections in order to gain mandate, but would likely feel the moral imperative to do so (personally and/or from outside influence). Finally, it’s still possible of course that Chávez makes a sufficient recovery and leads for the six year term to which he’s been elected.
From this point the scope of the analysis is limited to financial trades and gains that might be made from investments. I wish Chávez the best of fortune in his difficult personal battle, aside from any political differences or coincidences. On a list of ways in which you wouldn’t want to go, an aggressive malignant cancer ranks up near the very top. So to the possibilities for financial trades. We must assume that the financial market, rightly or wrongly, will see the removal of Hugo Chávez from the scene as a big positive for the country’s economy and therefore a positive for anyone going long its financial devices. All previous evidence points to that as the way the market will react.  (continues)

Here's the news today:

    Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelans need to be prepared for possibility that President Hugo Chavez won’t recover from cancer surgery in time to begin a third term on Jan. 10, 2013, the Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said.

    “We trust that, with the love of millions, the Comandante will recover soon and take command before Jan. 10,” Villegas said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website. “But if that’s not the case, people should be ready to understand. It would be irresponsible to hide the delicacy of the current situation and the days that lie ahead.”

Here's LAHT:
CARACAS -- An ashen face Vice President Nicolas Maduro announces that Chavez recovery from cancer surgery in Cuba is "delicate, difficult, complex". He is accompanied by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister/PDVSA head Rafael Ramirez. 
Maduro looks as if he has been crying, he sniffles and his voice breaks throughout.
A few minutes later, the Venezuelan Minister of Information Ernesto Villegas announces that Chavez may not make it back in time for the inauguration on January 10. 
continues here

Peru inflation

If I felt like splitting hairs on this subject and really picking at some nits, I'd go back to the time Peru's inflation level was nearing its peak, that pleasant 2008 just around the Lehman/Subprime thing that your great-grandfathers may have told you about, and recall that Peru's then FinMin complained bitterly about the way inflation was calculated at the time. It wasn't fair (said he) that nearly 50% of the representative basket was food, because Peru is all modern and thrusting and new and it's not the same at it used to be when people spent most of their income on essentials such as food and housing. However, the system didn't change and now the headline rate benefits. No need to factor in those expensive and incredibly taxed iPads and iPhones, let's make sure the whole thing stays based around potatoes and rice and chicken.

But yeah, it is splitting hairs, because thanks mainly to Julio Velarde at the Peru Central Bank (BCRP) and aided and abetted by a succession of FinMins that have had just enough brains to realized that autopilot is a good thing so DON'T TOUCH THOSE CONTROLS!, all based around the way in which Peru's trade balance surplus and tight monetary policy has seen the currency appreciate well, Peru's got this inflation monster by the throat and is squeezing hard. The above chart is consequence of smart economic policy and should be applauded.

Ryan and Slartibartfast

On reading this NR from Ryan Gold (RYG.v) this morning...

TORONTO, ONTARIO, Dec 12, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- Ryan Gold Corp. ("Ryan Gold" or the "Company") announces that the Company's Board of Directors has appointed David Schmidt as the Company's Interim President effective as of December 11, 2012. Mr. Schmidt is currently also the Interim Chief Executive Officer and replaces Shawn Ryan, who has resigned as President. Over the next few months, Mr. Ryan will work with the Company in a transitional capacity and will be available to consult as needed.

Murray John, Executive Chairman of Ryan Gold, commented: "On behalf of the Board of Directors I would like to thank Mr. Ryan for his contributions to the Company and wish him well as he works on his own projects in the future."

...your humble scribe couldn't help but reflect on Shawn Ryan, winner of the 2011 Bill Dennis Award, and the character Slartibartfast from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Particularly this moment:

Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway."

He rummaged around in a pile of debris and pulled out a large perspex block with his name on it and a model of Norway moulded into it.
"Where's the sense in that?" he said. "None that I've been able to make out. I've been doing fjords in all my life. For a fleeting moment they become fashionable and I get a major award."

I wonder if fjords will ever catch on in The Yukon?

Chart of the day is...

...the S&P 500 index versus silver (proxy SLV), 2012 year to date:

I'd just like to thank all those silverbugs who put in so much time and effort to explain patiently to us knownothings how silver was going to take over the world this year. Fine effort, people. Keep up the good work.


What? Another coup in Honduras?

Yup, looks like it.

Update: All sorts of rumours now flying around tonight regarding Honduras, with some talking about a coup, some with military taking over the Presidential Palace, some on displacement of Supreme Court judges. For breaking journalistic coverage, try here

Update 2: This from RAJ in the comments section looks pretty accurate and close to the current situation, ty RAJ:
Current situation seems to be that army was called out to "guard" Congress; Congress pushing through (probably unconstitutional) law to remove Supreme Court justices. Not the coup that Lobo Sosa claimed he feared this past weekend, since that was supposedly the Court conspiring with media against him. Current situation may relate to primary election scandal-- Juan Orlando Hernandez wants to block court from hearing complaint that might show he did not win National Party endorsement, really. 

Dev Randhawa of Fission Energy (FIS.v) doesn't want Canada to be notified about how much of a piece of shit with women he is

Your author receives a message from the nice Googlywoogly people saying that this link has been withdrawn due to some sexist asshole piece of shit's complaint (that's Dev Randhawa, head honcho of Fission Energy (FIS.v) to you). So here's the contents of the original post, for your dee lek tay shun.


Dev Randhawa sounds like an interesting dude, what with his moving and shaking in the Vancouver junior mining world and his current position of Chair & CEO of Fission Energy (FIS.v). He's also the subject of this most interesting biography found on this website and dated from just a couple of days ago. We strongly recommend that you click through to read the whole piece, but here's a sample to get you in the mood:
"Know MANY women who have met the dirt bag only once while out at public functions, and Dev will coyly ask for a business card, then message the woman off the hook asking her to meet him so he can “do dirty things to her” because he “knows she is a naughty girl”. This “play boy” is ultimately a drunk looking to sleep with younger women as clearly no woman his age would dare give him the time of day (no wonder he’s still single) and he thinks his boasting and exaggerations will attract a younger woman, misunderstood as a complete idiot. When he gets rejected (because how hard would it be to turn down this hairy, 5foot ape), he will blast the woman’s phone with nasty, insulting texts, calling them “f*ck heads”, “dum b*tches” (his spelling, not mine), and continues here
Fun guy, no?

Update: I'm getting some very cool mails by way of feedback from this post. I wish I could share but on this one sorry, can't really happen. What I can say is that the person who wrote the above is not alone in her negative judgement of Dev Randhawa, of that there is no doubt. But she did get one thing wrong, as apparently Dev is a married man.

AQM Copper (AQM,v) and its PEA

The long-delayed PEA (scoping study in old money) from AQM Copper (AQM.v) on its 50/50 (with Teck) Zafranal project hit the wires today. Normally with delayed 43-101 reports one fears the worst but I have to say, even through the rose-tinted specs of owning some stock (that's my disclosure folks, long AQM and underwater to boot) it's really not that bad. The capex hurdle at $1.5Bn is reasonable for this type of 80k tpd copper machine, there are plenty of conservative looking parameters factored in and even at a $2.70/lb copper price and an 8% discount, a baseline if ever there were one, the IRR comes out over 11% (though I'm quite sure the company will want you to home in on the parameters of the $3/lb Cu price). Having been to the site, I can also say there's plenty of optimization potential here as well (costs could drop, resource count rise, mine life improve etc etc). 

For a project in a good location in Peru (community issues are unlikely, esp as the plan includes a de-sal plant for water supply) it's really not bad and the current AQM share price, giving the company a market cap of $11m with half of that covered by cash treasury, looks very cheap compared to 50% ownership of this thing. 

The problems AQM has are 1) it needs its big partner Teck to move forward and assign budget to Zafranal in 2013, 2) it'll need more cash than it has to fund its 50% to pre-feas and beyond 3) the low share price means dilution on the way. Those are problems and must be considered, but all the same its current beaten-to-an-inch-of-its-life market cap compares to 50% of the low-end NPV, which is over $400m. That's a steep discount, so if the copper market picks up again AQM could supply a decent percentage win from this low price. I'm holding my shares through and consider them a no time limit call option on copper from now on.

ps: published at 09:20am local time, 10 minutes before the opening bell.

Mirasol (MRZ.v) prices the market

Thanks to Mirasol Resources' (MRZ.v) deal with Coeur (CDE) today, we can now put a price on in-situ silver in a reasonable quality, economically robust looking deposit in Argentina.

It's two bucks an ounce. Sounds about right.

Chart of the day is...


I hope he sold.


The respected world of finance takes a sober pause for thought over the upsetting news surrounding the return of Hugo Chávez's cancer

Venezuelan bonds surged, sending benchmark yields to a five-year low, as speculation mounted that President Hugo Chavez will be unable to complete his third term after he acknowledged a recurrence of his cancer.
The yield on the government’s dollar bonds due 2027 plunged 70 basis points, or 0.70 percentage point, to 8.66 percent at 8:40 a.m. in New York, the lowest since November 2007, as traders anticipated a new administration taking office and courting the investment Chavez drove away. The bond’s price soared 5.77 cents to 104.87 cents on the dollar, according to data compiled yada yada continues here

Updating our Spanish league goals chart

You can keep the semi-BS "86 goals in a calendar year" stat, this is real footy and far more impressive.

1.53 goals per game is difficult to put into context, though for our North American friends now tuning in, imagine a baseball hitter who averages 0.4 lifetime and is currently putting in a 0.45 season. Seriously.

Chart of the day is...

...China copper imports:

From here.

The IKN Weekly, out now

IKN188 has just been sent to subscribers. Utter drivel, as usual.


Dr Elmer Huerta on Hugo Chávez's cancer

Back in February we featured Dr Elmer Huerta's opinion on the cancer suffered by Hugo Chávez above any other opinion, because Huerta is not a normal Joe with a soapbox opinion or preconceptions; rather, he's the a doctor specializing in cancer, works out of the Washington Hospital Center in Washington DC and is the new President of the American Cancer Society, the first Latinamerican to hold that title in its 95 years of existence. In other words, don't mess with the rest and go straight to the top in order to get properly informed.

Today Elmer Huerta writes again about Chávez's illness and frankly, the prognosis is not good. You can read it here.

Regarding the potential that Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, is making shit up about her professional qualifications

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, President of Argentina, says she's a lawyer. Not only that, but she attributes her rapid growth in personal wealth from her practising as a lawyer. So this report, that looks in great detail at her apparent lack of professional qualifications and comes up with masses of evidence that she's lying and that the meagre amounts of physical paper backing her claim to be qualified as a lawyer are faked may turn it into a real scandal.

The report has been around for a while, but it's suddenly getting new traction because it's being championed by Jorge Lanata, Argentina's most famous investigative journalist (and rightly so, because he's good). With Lanata on the case this thing could become seriously fun to watch.