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Torex Gold ( in Guerrero State: Don't say IKN didn't try to warn you

Here's a little list with just some of the times your humble scribe has tried to warn the world about the political risk for mining companies in Guerrero State, Mexico. Perhaps with today's news about Torex ( a few more might come round to reality.

From IKN200: “Guerrero State in Mexico is a politically risky place to go mining and it’s the main reason I’ve never warmed to Newstrike (in particular, great rocks there), Torex or any other company working the region. Added to this, I’ve heard more than one on-ground opinion that backs up my call on this region including one from a South American born geologist who was working for one of the explorecos until two years ago but quit and found a job with a different company in a different LatAm country. No names no packdrill, but this is a seasoned professional who knows his way around LatAm, plenty of street smarts and experience who was genuinely scared of working in Guerrero after a minor brush with a local gang member and a subsequent phone call from some anonymous who’d by then found out everything about him including background, place of birth, names addresses and current location of family members, the whole nine yards.”

From IKN220: “...some places are better than others in Mexico when it comes to political risk of the narco-violence variety and that the two places that one should avoid this specific problem are Chihuahua and Guerrero States. Perhaps that’s a little too blanket a statement, but if those addresses come up in your junior DD you must at least be able to ask plenty of questions in order to find out whether your target company is in any of the hot zones of these hot states. For example (and to repeat on this one) I’ve looked at and rejected companies such as Sierra Metals ( Newstrike Capital (NES.v) and Torex Gold ( for this specific reason.”

From IKN247: “...Torex (, which has done decent work on its community acceptance but is still located in one of the highest pol risk ares of Mexico, Guerrero, and is simply not for me.”

From IKN256: “On many occasions, these pages have been used to call “danger” on the political and community risk levels for Guerrero State, Mexico.”

And they're just a few examples scraped quickly from back copies of The Weekly. Google "IKN" and "Guerrero" for open blog examples (there are many).

Breaking: Mine workers kidnapped from Torex Gold ( project (UPDATED)

According to early reports, yesterday Friday between 10 and 15 employees working at the Torex Gold ( Morelos mine were kidnapped by a gang of around 20 people some 300 metres from the entrance to the mine. Their whereabouts are still unknown today, Saturday afternoon.

UPDATE: Latest reports put the number of kidnapped employees at 12, with 11 of them members of the management team. They were ambushed at around 7pm local time yesterday evening by an armed gang who are now demanding a ransom payment. The kidnapped members of staff are apparently Mexican nationals from Coahuila, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí and Sonora states.

And don't say that IKN didn't try to warn you all.

UPDATE 2: An un-named director Gabriela Sánchez, VP of investor relations at Torex ( spoke to Mexican press a few minutes ago and said that only one of the people kidnapped works at the mine. She said that to this point the company has received no ransom demand. She also says that the company will publish a news release in a few hours' time.

UPDATE 3: Here's the first English language wire report, out just a few minutes ago. Extract:
There were conflicting reports Saturday on how many were taken and whether some were workers for Media Luna, a Canadian-owned gold mining project in the municipality of Cocula, where police officers were charged with participating in the student killings.A state prosecutor's spokesmen said 12 people were taken, including some mine workers. A second government official said that 19 were taken and eight later released and that those held included some mine workers. Both insisted on not being quoted by name because the case had not been officially announced. The state official said the kidnappers were disguised as police or military.But the president of Toronto-based Torex Gold Resources Inc., which owns the mine, said the reports about his employees being abducted were false. Fred Stanford told The Associated Press he had confirmed that nine of his workers who were reported kidnapped were not taken and that he had conflicting information on a 10th employee."One may be involved, but because of a family matter. It has nothing to do with the mine," said Stanford, who is also Torex Gold's chief executive officer.Stanford said Torex Gold has about 250 employees in the area, but at least 1,000 more who are contract workers.

UPDATE 4: Ok, there's something strange about this story. Here's the latest report in which high ranking officers of the Federal Police in Guerrero (who are, for the record, the same body of people that tried to cover up the disappearance of the 43 students in November 2014) have said that there has been no kidnapping at all and the whole story is a lie. They go on to say that the whole thing is due to "communication problems" and at this point there is only one person known to be missing, a worker at the mine who was in the field and nobody knows exactly where he is but with the implcation he was out doing his job normally. To quote the police spokesperson (translated), "The story about the kidnapping of 12 people is a lie...up to this point the report is false."

However, one of the employees at the mine, Juan Zuñiga Méndez, said this afternoon that the commander of the local Community police force told him that a group of armed men had kidnapped workers at the mine while they were travelling in a shuttle bus service. In Zuñiga's words, "They told me that not only workers but also civilians who were commuting from their day's work (had been kidnapped) and to date we don't have the confirmed total of people, but it is a fact."

UPDATE 5: This is a very interesting report on events, which names regional head of the narco gang "La Familia" as the person behind the kidnapping and gives a lot of details on what happened.

David Alaba's goal

For Bayern Munich today, during the team's win against Stuttgart:

You won't see a better free kick goal all season. Or enjoy it on a better resolution video here.

René Lavand

Today comes sad news from Argentina that René Lavand has died at the ripe age of 86. Perhaps the name doesn't ring any bells with you, dear kind and mainly anglophone audience of IKN, but among magicians and particularly card trick illusionists Lavand was one of the most esteemed artists in the world.

Famous for his catchphrase "No se puede hacer mas lento" ("It can't be done more slowly") and for only having one arm, Lavand would often perform card tricks as slowly as possible but would still confound people as to how they were done as his sleight of hand (quite literally this time, he only had one) was peerless.

Here's a great example of his work, when appearing a few years ago on a four minute slot on French TV. In the show he speaks in Spanish and there's also a French simultaneous translation, but even if you're not versed in either language you miss very little. He was truly amazing and took the classic magician's question "How the devil did he do that?" to a whole new level.

René Lavand, QEPD.

Jack Caldwell on Mt Polley

If you are a mining person and you haven't been reading the recent series of posts from Jack Caldwell on Mt Polley over at his blog, I Think Mining, you need to do some catch-up reading immediately.

Start here, his latest offering from yesterday evening.

Then continue by going to his main page here and scrolling down. There's plenty to read since that report came out, all of it is nigh-on obligatory for industry actors.

That, Mr/s Rockhead, is your weekend assignment. 


Advice on romance, 1684 style.

Nothing much has changed, really:

“...when the Husband commeth into his Wives Chamber, he must entertain her with all kinds of dalliance, wanton behaviour, and allurements to Venery, but if he perceive her to be slow and more cold, he must cherish, embrace, and tickle her ... intermixing more wanton Kisses with wanton Words and Speeches, handling her Secret Parts and Dugs, that she may take fire and be inflamed to Venery.”

The Friday OT: The Jam; Town Called Malice

Cut down on beer or the kids new gear? It's a big decision.

From 1982. With 1980's music video director doing 1980's video.

Allied Nevada (ANV) ( news

Considering your humble scribe's stated position on Allied Nevada (ANV) ( and his utter contempt for anyone plug dumb stupid enough to have bought it recently, this news from Bloomie this afernoon makes for interesting reading:

Dollar Swap Gone Wrong Said to Push Allied Nevada to Hire Moelis
(Bloomberg) -- Allied Nevada Gold Corp., a miner that finds itself on the wrong side of a currency swap, hired a financial adviser to negotiate with lenders as its access to cash wanes, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

Moelis & Co., the New York-based investment bank, is set to lead talks for the Reno, Nevada-based company as it prepares to restructure $543 million of borrowings, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Allied Nevada has had to draw down on its $75 million short-term loan as its liability on the swap grows while the Canadian dollar depreciates versus it’s U.S. counterpart, according to a Nov. 3 regulatory filing. The gold and silver miner’s swap converts Canadian dollars from a C$400 million ($319 million) bond underwritten by Scotiabank and GMP Securities LP into U.S. dollars.

It's the balance sheet, grasshopper. The balance sheet.

h/t JS

The Academic-Policy Divide, by Russell Crandall

I'm slightly late to this (blame 48 hours of upset stomach, on the mend now though) but caught up with it via Greg Weeks' comment on the piece and that's a good thing.

Anyone interested in foreign policy in The Americas, particularly the North America/Latin America relationship, should read this article entitled "The Academic-Policy Divide" by Russell Crandall, professor of American foreign policy and international politics at Davidson College in North Carolina. Here is your extract:
But while academic Latin Americanists might suffer from over-moralizing, the other half of the problem stems from what I call the “Bacardi right”—a group of policy officials and think tankers that acts as though any manifestation of politics or any deviation from their perception of free market economics is by definition Marxist drivel or agitation. I call them the Bacardi right because while their rhetoric is ostensibly about free markets and individual liberties, their true comfort zone is the more traditional political, social and economic realm when they were the comfortable aristocracy or quasi aristocracy. In fact, often the market they seek to protect is the monopolistic one that has benefited them, not a truly free one.
I too would love “property rights” if I owned all the property. Their public theologian being the Wall Street Journal’s editorialist Mary O’Grady, the Bacardi right treats the sanctity of private property as the foundation of civilization, a convenient creed given that this entails their businesses and families owning all of this sacred property.
The Bacardi right was decidedly anti-communist during the Cold War, for obvious reasons. Part of this has been replaced by their skewed free market fundamentalism, although they often view Latin America as though the Cold War were still going on.
What is remarkable is that both the academic left and the Bacardi right often have a blind spot for autocrats if these rulers appear to be promoting their own ideologies. Thus, the left will overlook the Castro regime’s police state for the admired social gains. The right, by contrast, will applaud Peruvian autocrat, former President Alberto Fujimori’s free market opening despite his government’s egregious human rights record.

Overall he's hard on academia in his note, which is probably an overdue sentiment but doesn't catch it all. I read North American academics on Latin America because I like to get a feel of what Northern Gringo is thinking, rightly or wrongly, about LatAm. That's partly due to my own ignorance (I'm a bad scholar) because they can as a group have smart insights into the region, particularly when they get off their preferred political soapboxes (left or right) and bring an educated* outsider's eye on an issue or subject. But the other side is one of the things that Crandall highlights on several occasions and from several angles in his note; one dose of boots-on-ground street smarts can outweigh any amount of academic study from afar, replete as they are with data-collection and filtering techniques. It's impossible for me to remember how many times I've said "that's BS" out loud while reading an article by some lettered dude on a place I know well and wondering if they'd ever bothered to visit the place for longer than it took to get the photos. Crandall's call to get back to basics and spend time -spend extended time- in your region of interest shouldn't be as necessary as it is. But it is. Recommended article on LatAm affairs, go read it yourself.

*Always remember, educated and intelligent are two separate subjects

Understanding the Peru Chamber of Mining (SNMPE)

The Peru Chamber of Mining is known as The National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy (precisely, the "Sociedad Nacional de Minería, Petróleo y Energía de Perú" or SNMPE). Here's how they think:
"We the mining companies, run by families living in Lima, may have treated locals in small provincial towns like shit and fucked up their lands with our highly polluting practices for five generations, but we haven't done that sort of thing for at least five years. Why is the government so against us? Why don't the locals seem to trust us at our word? Do they not want progress?"
Latest example here, which is in Spanish but the above translation works ok for gist.

2015 SPX vs Au

Even including today's BLS-inspired attack, gold is outperforming the S&P 500 by around 4% so far in 2015:

Add that to the 2014 gold performance, which contrary to most people's preconceptions wasn't bad at all. Fact is, gold's bad rep mostly comes from a period that's now seven quarters in the past. 

It's not silver
It's not copper
It's not oil.
That's because it's not a commodity. 

A Flash update...

...has just been sent to subscribers, just before the opening bell this Friday morning.

Update midday local time: FWIW, took the 13 on the mentioned stock.

Ah wuz shocked

...shocked, that gold sold off on the BLS report.

Here's Calculated Risk on the BLS numbers. Notably, Bill McBride took the under on 230k when the result was the over. He seldom gets it wrong. He also underscores the strength of the November and December revisions. 

That horrible moment when you agree with The Economist on a LatAm political piece

And agree fully all the way down the line. Here's TE on Ollanta Humala and here's an extract:

OLLANTA HUMALA is Latin America’s political weather vane. A former army officer, in 2006 he ran for Peru’s presidency (and lost) as a sympathiser of Hugo Chávez, his campaign financed in part by Venezuelan money. In 2011 he ran again, this time as a disciple of Brazil’s left-leaning but pragmatic former president, known as Lula, calling for “a great transformation”. To win a run-off election that year he moved further to the centre, promising to maintain the liberal economic policies that helped to give Peru the fastest growth rate of South America’s larger economies over the previous decade.In office, that is what he has done, while recently drifting to a kind of mild populism of the centre-right—the default mode of Peruvian politics since the 1990s. His government has a schizophrenic quality.

Whole thing here. My only gripe: 95% of this piece could have been written two years ago.


Otto Rock is unwell

Nothing serious, seems as though I ate something that disagreed with me. Posting will be light today.


A random thought on China GDP

Apropos of nothing, my morning coffee thought a few minutes ago was just how well the Chinese government has managed its country though a 20 year period of massive and ongoing GDP growth. Yes I know we're not supposed to say nice things about China's dictatorship/commie/corrupt/etc politburo out loud. Yes there are strange wrinkles and megarich living next to abject poverty. And the pollution sucks bigtime. And inflation bubbles up from time to time due to macro policy mistakes. And if you believe the average western soothsayer the nation's banks are going to collapse any minute now. They've said it for the last 10 years so it must be true, right? And all those human rights abuses they do there which are awful. I mean, I've even heard they waterboard their enemies and then lie to their citizens saying they don't do such a thing and even if they do it's not torture. You'd never get something like that happening in...oh.

More seriously, controlling that sort of GDP growth over two decades and keeping the country relatively calm, orderly and all pulling in the same direction. Occurs to me that they're running their corner a darned sight better than anything achieved by the people arrogant enough to think they're living in the developed part of the world. Data from here.

Why Dalradian ( is being pumped by everyone now

1) Actually looks like a fairly decent deposit
2) Ross Beaty bought
3) They're now playing the "let's represent we're going to build the thing ourselves by bringing in Roosen's pal as COO"
4) The early backers suddenly think they have a chance of getting their money back.

5) All of the above.

Louis James, March 2013 to February 2015

Here are a whole bunch of juniors, each with three sets of numbers to their names
  • Their prices as of March 1st 2013, just before PDAC
  • Their prices today
  • The percentage change between the two
And they're all related, too. Non madame, non messieur, these are not random walk selections from the big list, these are the components of the Louis James "ten bagger list" from his PDAC pump that year.
  • ATAC Resources (ATC.v): Was $1.71, Now $0.72, percentage change -57.9%
  • Banks Island Gold (BOZ.v): Was $0.64, Now $0.12, percentage change -81.3%
  • Brixton Metals (BBB.v): Was $0.175, Now $0.15, percentage change -14.3%
  • Carpathian Gold ( Was $0.29, Now $0.015, percentage change -94.8%
  • Global Minerals (CTG.v): Was $0.175, Now $0.045, percentage change -74.3%
  • Gold Port Resources (GPO.v): Was $0.07, Now $0.017*, percentage change -75.7%
  • GoldQuest Mining (GQC.v): Was $0.425, Now $0.12, percentage change -71.8%
  • Matamec Explorations (MAT.v): Was $0.185, Now $0.04, percentage change -78.4%
  • Renaissance Gold ( Was $0.455, Now $0.285, percentage change -37.4%
  • Adventure Gold (AGE.v): Was $0.255, Now $0.085, percentage change -66.7%
  • Almaden Minerals ( Was $2.18, Now $1.40, percentage change -35.8%
  • Exeter Resources ( Was $1.21, Now $0.70, percentage change -42.1%
  • International Tower Hill ( Was $1.71, Now $0.56, percentage change -67.3%
  • Rye Patch Gold (RPM.v): Was $0.355, Now $0.14, percentage change -60.6%
  • Sandspring Resources (SSP.v): Was $0.37, Now $0.115, percentage change -68.9%

And that's ALL of them folks, I haven't left a single one out that might have made it to green ink. He chose 15 names and 15 of them have sunk, most of them in a pretty disastrous manner. The truth is, if Louis Lobito Little Wolf James weren't as brazenly two-faced and hypocritical about his track record, IKN wouldn't care a jot about his picks. It's one thing to live in a fantasy world about your ability, quite another to constantly hoodwink a bunch of greenhorns and rip them off shamelessly.

*Now re-named Codrington Resources, with 3-for-1 share rollback in 2014

Common threads

There is a common thread between these three pieces of news out of mining companies recently.

First the one from SouthGobi Resources ( over the weekend telling us how three of its employees have been jailed for tax evasion, each a typical period of over five years, and the company slapped with an $18m fine. And wow the Mongolia government has run some sort of wildly corrupt play here.

Second the one from Nautilus Minerals ( on Monday telling us how they sent $10m to the wrong bank account due to what they say was a cyberattack. This one's easier to analyse though, the company's either a bunch of fuckwits or running a scam on us all. In other words, standard junior miner.

Third the Imperial Metals ( news last night when they were all "Yeah, Mt Polley, we're sorting that out and the commission findings and the rest. And oh yeah, while I'm here, there was that police raid on our head office and the computers seized but hey, these thing happen."

And the common thread: Never believe a single thing that a mining company tells you. Ever. 


Scotia on Capstone (

I still get a lot of hits and even "like it" mails about the series of posts, "The only chart you need to understand junior mining newsletter writers" (one of which is linked there).

But it also applies to Scotiabank's mining desk.

So congrats on calling the stock higher today, guys. Winning.

Strange doings, currency wars, and unintended consequences

A recommended long-form piece by Edward Studzinski is on this link, which includes a level-headed discussion of Central Banks' changing attitudes towards gold. For those who require adult reading material on macro-finance. Excerpt to get you in the mood here.
In January of this year, the Bundesbank announced that in 2014 it repatriated 120 tons of its gold reserves back to Germany, 85 tons from New York and the balance from Paris. Of more interest, IN TOTAL SECRECY, the central bank of the Netherlands repatriated 122 tons of its gold from the New York Federal Reserve, which it announced in November of 2014. The Dutch rationale was explained as part of a currency “Plan B” in the event the Netherlands left the Euro. But it still begs the question as to why two of the strongest economies in Europe would no longer want to leave some of their gold reserves on deposit/storage in New York. And why are Austria and Belgium now considering a similar repatriation of their gold assets from New York?

Thanks due to reader JS for the headsup. Nice catch, sir.

Nevada Copper (, its tunnel, its treasury (from IKN299)

This was a piece on that formed one part of IKN299 last Sunday. With now rising on the back of the copper pop this morning, it's starting to look seriously tempting as a short.


Nevada Copper ( An update on that (in)famous shaft sinking effort that NCU needs to complete in order to get its stage one operation going. As at January 7th 2015 (company filing of its latest presentation (9)) the tunnel was at 1,655 feet and advancing, and I quote, “5 to 7 feet per day, depending on ground conditions”.

The last time we checked in on this subject was IKN295 and in that edition, we noted that the tunnel was reported by the company at 1,520 feet depth, with another 580 feet to be tunnelled before the job was done. At that time we noted the rate of advancement was well below the “5 to 7 feet per day” the company claimed. With the new numbers we can check up on progress.

  • November 25th to January 7th progress from 1,520 feet to 1,655 feet = 135 feet.
  • Days elapsed = 43 days.
  • Average progress per day = 3.14 feet
Once again, the reality doesn’t match up to the claims made by NCU. And even if we’re generous and cut a week out of the time for the Christmas/New Year period the resulting 36 days is an average of 3.75 feet per day, well short of the 5 to 7 feet in the glossy brochures.

But the future is what concerns us most and we know that from January 7th, NCU has 445 feet left to tunnel in order to reach the mineralization and complete the shaft. Here come the calculations:

  • At 5 feet per day: 89 days = 3 months less a couple of days = completion ~early March
  • At 4 feet per day: 111 days = 3 ½ months = completion ~late March
  • At 3 feet per day: 148 days = nearly 5 months = completion ~end May
Back in the more detailed analysis of IKN295 we noted that NCU’s cash treasury, even after its recent refinancing with Red Kite, was scheduled to be dry by April 2015. That means at the very least it needs to get this tunnel done by the end of March and even then (here’s a chunk of the IKN295 text)...

“...there’s the little matter of the $24.3m they have earmarked a the bill for the production equipment they need for the underground operation. Your author understands from good authority that NCU hasn’t spent a dime on that as yet, so it will need to fund the purchases some way. even with the tunnel done it’s by no means out of the woods. But getting the tunnel complete before the company runs out of ready cash is now an absolute minimum requirement for the company (and please note, importantly, that when the company gets to the 1,906 feet mark and digs no deeper it’s going to give you a fanfare NR for sure, but it will still need to tunnel nearly 200 feet before the project is complete) and the way things are going, well, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt but even so it’s nip and tuck here. And it remains to be seen how NCU plans to pay for the machinery it needs.

There’s a difference here between NCU the company and NCU the stock. The company has large insto support from Pala and from Red Kite, so it’s unlikely to be denied those last few millions it will need to buy machines, go into production and produce real fanfare NRs come the time. But how it gets that money is another story and there’s a pattern of cash raising here that is squeezing equities out of the picture. Pala is of course a big holder of NCU stock, but the last time the company tapped its backer the money came not in the form of another equity raise but two small bridging loans, both with sizeable interest rates and specific payback criteria. Then Red Kite, which is all about debt financing and not about holding shares or warrants. NCU is collecting debt on its balance sheet and come March or April, if we see another debt deal to secure machinery financing, in the current price climate for copper those holding shares should look out below.  And as for M&A, nobody but nobody is going to buy this thing, not with all that debt on board and a long road before positive free cash flow. All that aside from the dubious quality of the asset, particularly the marginal economics of the larger stage two operation.

Being a Canadian-listed company makes it difficult for the retail player, but all the same and even with the PPS drop seen in January NCU is an obvious short here. Its share price could end up in the pennies. Or in another way, the standard model mining stock...errr...“flow” chart:

B2Gold (BTG) ( is 10% down since it went marketing at the TD Sec 2015 conference in Toronto

Probably just a coincidence.

How To Get Ahead In Advertising:

Rule #1: Be Creative in Every Situation
Rule #2: Never Lose Your Perspective
Rule #3: Don't Bring Home Your Work

One month of South American stock markets

Here's a chart that shows the performance in the first month of 2015 of South America's major traded stock markets. You have (in alphabetical order) Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru, with the S&P500 in there as benchmark:

The main story: no winners as even the best performer Chile is breakeven. Brazil's matching the SPX. Colombia's getting as pop from the small return in the oil price, but is still well off in a short time. Peru is nearly 7% in just one month and worst of the bunch.

Chart of the day is...

...crude oil, dailies:

Every page I visit this morning is all about a massive, industry-changing rally in oil. So I go over to the chartshops and...well, context is necessary for business headlines is it not.

But there does seem to be a concerted effort going on, with the base metals rising hard this morning. Some sort of very large game of money, London vs Beijing?


Aberdeen ( And that's the end of that

Knife to a gunfight, Ryan. Knife to a gunfight.

NR here, fave bit here:

Said Ryan Morris, President of Meson Capital: "I have now spoken with Stan Bharti. I have discussed with him the financial position of Aberdeen and the board's plans going forward. At the outset of this contest I expressed concerns that Mr. Bharti was not acting in the best interests of the companies in which Forbes & Manhattan has an interest. Having initiated this process and seeing that the majority of the shareholders voted in his favour, I now realize that I was wrong. I unreservedly apologize for the prior comments I have made that called into question Mr. Bharti's integrity. I believe that the interests of Aberdeen's shareholders are best served if Meson Capital and Nightscape Capital disengage from Aberdeen, and the board is free to execute on its plan."
Or in visual form...

Every beauty contest should end like this

Last week saw the Miss Amazonas 2015 beauty pageant in Brazil. Here we see the winner, one Carol Toledo, receiving her crown.

And we also see the reaction of one of the losers, a certain Sheislane Hayalla. 

Truly wonderful, seeing is believing.

Chart of the day is...

...the gold/silver ratio:

The GSR (aka the precious metal/byproduct ratio) has been over 70X for the last four months. New normal.


The Katy Perry half-time show

The evolution of kitsch. 

Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

I cannot believe I'm watching this.

End of Liveblog.

The IKN Weekly, out now

IKN299 has just been sent to subscribers. Cheap.