Thursday 4th June 2020

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘ecuador’

Legendary mine finder David Lowell dead at 92

May 6th, 2020

by Greg Klein | May 6, 2020

An axe injury while staking claims in central Saskatchewan helps illustrate the working life of an intrepid geologist in the 1950s. While topping trees David Lowell slashed his hand, but heavy blood loss hardly justified helicopter transport for medical attention. A few days later, as bleeding continued despite application of a rag bandage, a fellow geologist sewed up the cut with black carpet thread.

Legendary mine finder David Lowell dead at 92

Although Lowell admitted the process had him howling with pain, he concluded with stoic simplicity: “This worked fine.” They stayed in the bush for another week before heading back to Lac La Ronge, where a couple of Cree nurses examined the amateur stitch-up with amusement.

Lowell also spent time in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories as well as in British Columbia, where he worked at Highland Valley, Endako, Gibraltar and Craigmont. But the legend who passed away earlier this week was best known for discoveries farther south, starting in his native Arizona. The grandson of an Ontario-born prospector is credited with 17 major discoveries over 50 years in Arizona, Argentina, the Philippines, B.C., Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Paraguay.

Intrepid Explorer: The Autobiography of the World’s Best Mine Finder attributes significant work from others for seven of those achievements, which he categorizes as “maybe-I-was-responsible-for orebodies.” As he added, “there always are many more discoverers than discoveries.”

Lowell’s boots hit ground over much of the world but he also delivered university lectures in several countries and published widely. A longstanding collaboration with John Guilbert brought fame for the duo, better understanding of geology and many new mines through the Lowell-Guilbert Porphyry Copper Model, first published in 1970.

The model led to Lowell’s first discoveries, Kalamazoo and Vekol in Arizona, “which were remarkable at the time given the lack of visible copper mineralization at surface,” said a May 5 statement from Solaris Resources. Those finds were followed by Bajo Alumbrera in Argentina, to which Lowell acknowledged the contribution of others.

“David went on to discover the world’s largest copper deposit, La Escondida, in Chile in 1981,” Solaris pointed out. “This came from recognizing how the signature of his porphyry copper model would be modified in an extremely arid environment by a process known as ‘super leaching,’ which five prior companies exploring the property previously had failed to recognize.

“Likewise, in Peru, David identified the Northern Peru Gold Belt after library study, regional mapping, reconnaissance and sampling in a region that was not thought to be prospective. This work allowed him to narrow his focus and make the Pierina gold discovery in 1996, which was acquired by Barrick Gold for over $1 billion later that year.

“With Peru Copper, David took what was a known but under-appreciated deposit in Toromocho, relogged the existing drill core and completely reinterpreted the geology to lay the foundation for an exploration program that would increase its size by more than an order of magnitude. The project was acquired in 2007 for over $800 million.”

His last discoveries included Mirador in Ecuador, which began operation last year under a Chinese consortium, and Solaris’ flagship project Warintza in Ecuador, along with Lowell’s participation in finding Alto Parana in Paraguay. Lowell remained a Solaris consultant and strategic partner until his passing.

“Up until the very end of his life, David was busy designing programs to test his vision for the future of discovery in the Americas,” the company stated. “Innovation and ingenuity were constants throughout his legendary career.”

Troubled and uncharted

April 10th, 2020

Navigating the new normal to an uncertain destination

by Greg Klein | April 10, 2020

The new normal transitions into an uncertain future

 

What’s Chinese for “cui bono”?

Through grimly ironic coincidence, the country that unwittingly inflicted this on the world stands to benefit. “The Chinese Communist Party is seizing what its senior officials are calling the ‘opportunity’ of the pandemic to realize the party’s long-game objective of fully eclipsing North America and Europe in the global order,” writes Terry Glavin.

“While the Chinese government’s internal statistics are routinely questioned by outside analysts, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology credibly reports that roughly 75% of small and medium-sized businesses across the country have already resumed production.”

On April 7 Bloomberg reported its own estimates “that most of China was 90% to 95% back to work at the end of last week, noting pick-ups in the steel market, construction activity and crude processing. Those oil refineries, as well as coal-fired power plants, are nearing last year’s operating rates, while metals stockpiles have shrunk from record or near-record levels. It’s a three-month cycle of collapse and recovery marked by perhaps the most heartening milestone for those nations still fending off the worst of the virus: China has now reported zero new COVID-19 deaths for the first time since January.”

But not so heartening, former U.K. foreign secretary William Hague noted in the Telegraph that “in Europe, North America and lower-income countries too, it seems likely that the virus will kill far more people, wreak much worse economic damage and bring more unwelcome changes to life than in China itself.”

The new normal transitions into an uncertain future

Glavin quotes from an analysis by Horizon Advisory, a consultancy that investigates Chinese policy: “Beijing intends to use the global dislocation and downturn to attract foreign investment, to seize strategic market share and resources—especially those that force dependence—and to proliferate global information systems.”

Hague warned that “China will gain from the new age of the surveillance state that will be summoned into existence around much of the world in the coming months…. Guess who will be well-placed to supply the systems, software and data, and to do so quickly and on a large scale?”

Glavin also stressed China’s designs on global information technology architecture, “mostly through Huawei Technologies, China’s ‘national champion’ telecom giant.”

He remains stark in his conclusion: “We may be stumbling headlong into an uncharted realm of social breakdown and mass graves. We could be destined for something else, somewhere dark and foreboding, where Xi Jinping calls all the shots. Or we might be traversing an excruciating social and economic terra incognita towards some eventual semblance of normalcy.”

Keep the news stream flowing

Seemingly steadfast, though, are miners and explorers. Many of their announcements concern responses to the crisis, especially whether companies are allowed to continue working, or whether they find it practical to do so.

The new normal transitions into an uncertain future

Photo: Talon Metals

But with many seasonal exploration programs completed before the industry entered pandemic mode, assays are starting to pour in. Some random and radically abbreviated examples from April 8 alone include 2.31 g/t gold over 101 metres from QMX Gold’s (TSXV:QMX) Bonnefond deposit in Val d’Or; 7.14 metres of mixed massive sulphides from Talon Metals’ (TSX:TLO) Tamarack nickel-copper-cobalt project in Minnesota; 25,466 ppm zirconium, 89.1 ppm dysprosium, 1281 ppm neodymium and 348 ppm praseodymium over 8.83 metres in a channel sample from Search Minerals’ (TSXV:SMY) Silver Fox zone in Labrador; 0.69% Nb2O5 over 185 metres at NioBay Metals’ (TSXV:NBY) James Bay niobium project in Ontario; 11.6 g/t gold and 2,960 g/t silver in surface chip samples taken by Cornerstone Capital Resources’ (TSXV:CGP) ASX-listed JV partner Sunstone Metals at their Bramaderos gold-copper project in Ecuador.

Other project updates included promises of assays to come from recent programs or new developments from analytical work. Determined, maybe even irrepressible, junior exploration soldiers on.

A humanitarian call for mineral exploration supplies and skills

As of April 9 the Association for Mineral Exploration received 29 responses to its call for assistance in providing testing, triage, housing and isolation areas for vulnerable people. “As mineral explorers, we have access to the supplies needed and are in a unique position to help,” AME pointed out. If you can, please consider the following donations:

  • Insulated structures (both hard and soft wall)

  • Camp gear such as furniture, lighting and kitchen appliances

  • Medical equipment

  • Camp support personnel such as caterers, housekeepers, janitors, etc.

  • Available medical staff including such qualifications as OFA3s, paramedics, RNs, etc.

  • Other supplies or skills

To make a contribution, fill out this form and AME will be in touch. 

For further information contact Savannah Nadeau.

AME’s program comprises part of a spontaneous international effort in which miners and explorers across Canada and around the world contribute supplies, facilities, skills and expertise to the cause.

We will get through this—won’t we?

From one perspective, nuclear energy poses dangers unimagined by its more conventional critics. Although statistically one of our safest sources of electricity, its complexity requires a sophisticated and orderly society to guarantee safety.

Would that be possible if the West succumbed to a future dominated by rampant terrorism, rioting and crime—and in Canada, incessant blockades as well as unrestrained flakery? These are nightmarish scenarios, of course, but the pandemic makes them seem almost quaint.

An outbreak during a nuclear refuelling program at Pennsylvania’s Limerick facility just hints at the vulnerability of key infrastructure if illness strikes enough people, or even just a few specialists with rare expertise. Populations would suffer not only compounding problems from the loss of essential services but also dangers ranging from an ailing reactor to a crumbling hydro dam.

Preparations to lock down essential staff show foresight, but might also presage a highly regimented society. Such an outcome might result anyway, as has often been the historic case following a period of chaos.

Weakening links in the supply chains

Anyone who’s seen the derelict state of greater Vancouver’s once bountiful agricultural districts might question the wisdom of importing so much food from so far away. Times like these afflict complicated trade, communications and transportation networks and, as the case of milk distribution shows, shorter supply lines too.

Unable to get their product to market, some Canadian dairy farmers have been dumping large amounts of raw milk. In British Columbia, the practice started on April 3, “a measure of last resort, and only considered in emergency situations,” according to the B.C. Dairy Association.

Among problems listed by Postmedia are “transportation shortages caused by an overwhelmed trucking industry, processing and packaging challenges, a sharp decline in bulk customers due to the mass closures of restaurants and bakeries, and inconsistent distribution to stores.”

Another hint of the possibilities to come was the suspension of Maple Leaf Foods’ (TSX:MFI) Brampton poultry plant after three workers became infected.

“This is a very fluid situation and our teams are working very closely within our network, as well as with our supply chain and logistics partners so that we can continue to deliver safe food at this critical time,” the company stated.

Meanwhile selling groceries can prove deadly, as shown by COVID-19 fatalities among U.S. retail workers. The virus recently struck down at least four American supermarket employees, the Washington Post reported on April 6. “Industry experts say the rise of worker infections and deaths will likely have a ripple effect on grocers’ ability to retain and add new workers at a time when they’re looking to rapidly hire thousands of temporary employees,” the paper stated.

In southwestern British Columbia, some newly hired staff appear to come from a vulnerable age group. Some of the security guards policing the socially distant queues outside retail outlets wouldn’t look out of place in a long-term care home.

Myriad other supply chain challenges include COVID-19-specific medical equipment.

The new normal transitions into an uncertain future

Can your immune system withstand The Stand?

Virus novel precaution: Take this immunity self-test

Tragically these are also times of rampant misinformation, whether it’s conspiracy theories of how the virus originated or phoney promises of miraculous cures. One especially preposterous claim has been perpetrated by the National Post: that Stephen King’s The Stand “is either the perfect distraction from COVID-19 or too eerily accurate to consider.”

Yes it’s a story, of sorts, about a virus killing off most of our species. But before any attempt to read it, potential victims should answer these questions:

  • I like fictional characters who resemble TV stereotypes

  • I don’t care how long an author takes to tell a story, as long as it’s long

  • My favourite pastimes include watching water boil, paint dry and grass grow

  • I like boring books because they make our suddenly shortened lives seem to pass so slowly

If you answered every question with a resounding yes, you have sufficient boredom immunity to survive this virus novel.

Calendar of the plague year

These days commemorate the plague that passed over and the Resurrection. We can hope…

Gold—pricey or priceless?

May 27th, 2015

Ancient Colombian cultures put another perspective on the metal’s precious qualities

by Greg Klein

Gold’s allure, where it exists at all, can manifest itself in different ways. British Columbia natives, for example, remained indifferent to the metal until the arrival of prospectors. Those gold-hungry newcomers, on the other hand, were driven almost entirely by rapacity. But the pre-Conquest indigenous peoples of today’s Colombia saw nothing of value in the metal itself until, converted by metallurgy and craftsmanship, it became an object not only of beauty but of symbolic importance or transformational power.

That’s demonstrated by Allure of Gold, an exhibit within the exhibit called Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia at Victoria’s Royal B.C. Museum. Holding 137 pieces of pre-Hispanic artefacts dating to 500 BC, the display makes its first North American appearance from Bogota’s Museo del Oro. Even now the pieces symbolize the Colombian peoples’ identity, pride and shared past, Museo director Maria Alicia Uribe Villegas told ResourceClips.com.

Ancient Colombian cultures put another perspective on the metal’s precious qualities

This gold pendant, in a style dating between 900 and 1600, would “transform” political or religious leaders into batmen, bestowing such
powers as the ability to fly, see at night and rest upside-down.
(Photo: Museo del Oro)

“These were objects that were produced mainly for display and to build power—political and religious power—by transmitting the properties of the materials,” she explained. People believed the objects asserted status, hosted spirits, or enhanced fertility and the overall quality of life.

According to belief, many objects wielded power to transform the person wearing it into another being. “They could for example acquire the identity of the jaguar, of birds, of bats,” Uribe said. “By wearing the ornament they believed they transformed their body, and by transforming their body they changed their perspective and their identity. So the power of many rulers came from that transformation. They believed that by transforming into a bird, you could fly to other worlds, to other dimensions, to the spiritual dimension, meet the spirits and the gods and ask for things, ask for hunting prey or for rain or things that your group needed.”

Some objects also presented a view of cosmology, she pointed out. “In most of these societies there isn’t this difference between nature and culture. Animals and people were nature and culture at the same time. Animals are also humans, different kinds of humans than people, so the relations between animals and humans were understood as social relations…. When you hunt you have to seduce the prey and you have to give the spiritual owner of the animal a gift in exchange.” Uribe said gold then functioned in “a transactional world,” but in a symbolic sense, not as currency.

Why was gold chosen for such representations? “It’s interesting because it’s a cultural choice,” she replied, noting that B.C. aboriginals knew about gold but didn’t use it. “It’s a wonderful material,” she added. “It’s beautiful for its colour and the shine you can give it, it doesn’t corrode, it lasts forever, and also you can give it the shape you want by hammering it or casting it.”

Although natives north of Mexico didn’t practise metallurgy, those of Colombia produced gold-copper and gold-silver alloys. When silver was used it was normally in the country’s south, which had cultural connections with today’s Peru and Ecuador. Colombians used platinum too. They couldn’t melt it because of the metal’s exceptional resistance to heat but South Americans were “the only people in the ancient world that used platinum.”

Ancient Colombian cultures put another perspective on the metal’s precious qualities

In a style dating between 1 BC and 700 AD, this breastplate would “transform” a chieftain or priest into a jaguar, allowing him to communicate with jaguar spirits and granting him deep respect and obedience. (Photo: Museo del Oro)

Almost all that effort was motivated by symbolism and spirituality, not practicality. But Colombians did make some metal tools for fashioning other metal objects, for example to hammer gold, Uribe noted. They also fashioned metal into needles and fishing hooks. But “those were the only practical tools they made.” Otherwise precious metals were used “for these objects of meaning.”

It’s a wonder that any of it survived the efficiently bloodthirsty business of confiscating the artwork and turning it into bullion. As Matthew Hart wrote about Francisco Pizarro’s 16th century conquest of Peru, “The artistic output of a thousand years vanished into the furnaces. It must be one of the most potent images in history—the transformation of a culture into cash.”

Most of what survived were funerary offerings hidden in tombs. “But the Spanish learned how to identify these tombs and many of them were looted,” Uribe said. Incredibly, ancient artefacts were still being melted as late as the 19th and even 20th century.

Where’s that gold now? You might be wearing some of it. The global gold supply comes from diverse and sometimes ancient sources, one of the museum displays points out. The bling in your ring could come from a Colombian chief or an Egyptian pharaoh.

But some of Colombia’s treasures were preserved by local collectors and European museums. The Museo del Oro’s collection started in 1939, after Colombia’s minister of education prevailed on the country’s national bank, then holding a monopoly on gold ownership, “to keep these objects out of the market, being taken abroad and melted,” Uribe said.

Now all such artefacts belong to the country’s entire population, she explained. A private collector must register with the office of archeological heritage and may ask for tenancy on a privately held collection. But Colombia retains ownership. “You cannot buy it, sell it or even inherit it.”

So while the commodity’s spot price keeps gold bugs guessing, these objects remain priceless.

Allure of Gold appears with Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia at Victoria’s Royal B.C. Museum until October 31.

Read more about the Colombian national collection.

Read more about Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia.