A mining and exploration retrospect for March 2 to 8, 2013
by Greg Klein
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A city built on gold—and smuggling
“I didn’t ‘out’ anyone in the book and it wasn’t my intention to do that,” said Timmins journalist Kevin Vincent. “If I outed one prominent businessperson, I would have to out everyone in Timmins.” Discussing his book Bootleg Gold in Tuesday’s Northern Ontario Business, Vincent recounted what was once the mining town’s second-largest industry.
“A large percentage of the prominent business community has its roots tied to the gold-smuggling industry,” he told the paper. “In the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, there was so much gold here every business had to have a set of scales under the counter. If you didn’t, you weren’t in business.”
Highgrading, as it was called, started with miners stealing small amounts, which they sold on a well-organized black market for 50%. “Shift bosses, mine captains and even mine managers were also involved,” Northern Ontario Business stated.
“When the gold was all put together, it was really compiled by just a handful of individuals and they controlled everything,” the paper quoted Vincent. “If you tried to move significant amounts of gold outside of their operation you ran a real, serious risk. Everyone knew it was going on and there were rules of engagement you had to follow.”
The endeavour was pervasive, with spinoff opportunities for seemingly everyone. One way of sneaking loot out of the mine was “inside false teeth constructed by local dentists,” the paper reported.
Due diligence defends against dirty deeds
March has been proclaimed Fraud Prevention Month by Canada’s 13 securities commissions. The regulators have a number of public awareness programs underway, including a provincial tour by the Ontario Securities Commission which highlights the agency’s new Office of the Investor, “the voice of the investor internally at the OSC.” On Tuesday some agencies, including Quebec’s l’Autorité des marchés financiers, cautioned would-be investors to check the registration (here and here) “of any firm or individual selling securities or offering investment advice.”
The following day the British Columbia Securities Commission announced two new features to its Investright program—a guide to private placements for retail investors and a mobile app providing investment advice and up-to-the-minute scam alerts. Like its Ontario counterpart, the BCSC has its own roadshow, this one exposing the province’s top 10 scams.
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