Prime Meridians – Inside The Colombia Peace Agreement

This week in Pierce Points:

Glencore launched a zinc firesale. The major’s $1.5 billion in metal inventory sales appear to be weighing on the global price.

A gold miner invested in coal. Sibanye Gold is securing energy supplies in electricity-starved South Africa.

Some of the world’s best-located mines went on sale. A package of 5 Nevada gold projects could fetch $700 million.

U.S oil producers lost out to Norway. Iranian officials said a Norwegian-Austrian consortium is bidding for offshore fields.

Colombia signed up for peace. A historic agreement could open up a top copper exploration terrain.  

Inside The Colombia Peace Agreement

I said earlier this week that the last item above could be the mining industry’s most important news in a decade. 

In short, it’s one of the most exciting developments going in exploration and development. Because we already know what things could happen if the country opens through peace — by looking at the history of a nearby nation, Peru. 

During the 1980s, Peru was engulfed in civil insurgency. With the government battling rebel forces of the Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, Maoist movement. 

That meant almost no mineral exploration in Peru — despite considerable potential recognized within the country. 

But that all changed in 1992. When the Sendero Luminoso was largely brought down — bringing an end to the fighting, and allowing explorationists to finally access the far-flung climes of the Peruvian Andes. 

There, the early movers found huge prizes.

The most important case study was the Pierina gold deposit. Discovered by legendary explorer David Lowell — which yielded a mineral resource of 8 million ounces at world-leading grades. (If you haven’t read David’s autobiography, “Intrepid Explorer“, it’s a must-have for anyone in the mining business — and has a great overview of the Pierina discovery, and many others.)

Pierina was discovered through solid regional fieldwork — surveying a large swath of ground in a prospective section of Peru. Until the crew could zero in on mineralized indicators, which led to one of the biggest gold finds ever.

There were plenty of other similar discovery stories in Peru. And I believe Colombia could be even better.

The history of Colombia’s long-standing mining industry reads like a geologist’s fairy tale. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500s, they were able to stretch nets across the streams and catch gold nuggets while they napped on the riverbank.

At the turn of the 1900s, Colombia was host to some of the world’s largest and most storied gold and base metal mines. The Titiribi operation (where I had the pleasure of working up a 10 million-ounce gold resource a few years back) produced more than 2 million ounces of bullion. The mine was so rich, the owners actually printed their own paper currency backed by the mined gold.

I’ve since been to many parts of Colombia — the central and eastern Cordilleras, the jungles of the Pacific, the hot arid plains of the Caribbean coast — and everywhere, I’ve seen similar world-class potential. 

The exciting thing is, it’s not just gold. Colombia’s western regions are one of the few places on Earth that produces primary platinum — these mines have even made the U.S. Geological Survey list of top global producers a few times. 

The world’s largest nickel mine by throughput — South32’s Cerro Matoso — lies in northern Colombia. The country is also the world’s top producer of emeralds.

But the biggest opportunity here is in copper. 

In my travels around Colombia, I’ve seen copper everywhere. There are mines in the southern state of Narino that appear to be scratching the surface of very big targets at depth. There are kilometer-long oxide blankets found 1,000 kilometres to the north in La Costa. And monster-sized porphyry targets in the northwest jungles. 

I believe Colombia may even yield some discoveries seen nowhere else in South America. My associates and I have staked 38,000 hectares over African Copperbelt-style sediment-hosted mineralization — never investigated in modern times due to Colombia’s civil war.

These are exactly the sorts of places that the dawning peace will open up. A step that will lead to discoveries — perhaps some of the largest the world has seen in decades, on the scale of global leaders like Oyu Tolgoi and the Timok Magmatic Complex.  

That gets me excited — for the people of Colombia and the global exploration sector. Great things will happen when freedom meets one of the finest natural settings on the planet.  

Here’s to lasting peace,

Dave Forest / @piercepoints / Facebook

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