Prime Meridians – Rediscovering The City Of Gold

This week in Pierce Points:

Chinese gold miners eyed South America. Up-and-coming producer Zhaojin is reportedly finalizing a major acquisition

India returned to the gold market. A majority of gold-sellers appear to have reopened after a six-week strike.

The Panama papers named a major miner. Zimbabwe’s biggest platinum producer may have been dodging taxes.

Unused oil and gas permits soared. The backlog of drilling approvals sitting idle across the U.S. is at an all-time high.  

Copper got some stealthy good news. China’s imports are hitting records, while Chinese firms are hunting for mines.

Rediscovering The City Of Gold

It’s great to be back home, and amongst old friends. 

On that front, an especially warm thanks to Andy Bell and the folks at BNN — for including me in their Commodities discussion Thursday on the rise in unused oil and gas drilling permits. It’s always a pleasure to be amongst BNN’s unparalleled coverage of the natural resources space. 

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Source: BNN Commodities, April 14

As I mentioned last week, my recent travels also gave me the chance to catch up with my friends and associates in Myanmar. As well as spend a week with one of the true legends of the geological world — Colorado School of Mines copper expert Dr. Murray Hitzman. 

My Myanmar exploration and development firm Asia Pacific Mining teamed up with the Society of Economic Geologists to bring Murray to Myanmar for a series of talks. And he didn’t disappoint — giving a comprehensive overview of porphyry copper geology, drawn from his decades of experience around the world.

Here’s a shot of the action after the talk, when a lively discussion ensued with two other geological legends — Myanmar experts Dr. Win Swe and Dr. Andrew Mitchell. That’s Murray at left and myself at right. 

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Talking shop with Drs Hitzman, Swe, and Mitchell after the presentation in Yangon

And the fun didn’t end there. With it being my immense pleasure to host Murray on a trip to one of Asia Pacific Mining’s new field prospects in eastern Myanmar.

In fact, this was no ordinary field visit. Being one of the first forays made by any foreign geologists into a strip of land along Myanmar’s border with Thailand, known as Kayin State. A region that from 1949 until 2012 was the abode of one of the strongest rebel groups in the country — the Karen National Union (KNU). 

Geologists always recognized this area as prospective — it’s actually a stone’s throw from one of the world’s largest tin-tungsten porphyries, the Mawchi mine, which was the principal supplier of these metals to the British empire during World War II. 

Having visited the Mawchi mine a few years back, I was particularly intrigued to see this part of Myanmar. Because, during that visit, I noted not only tin and tungsten mineralization — but also increasingly strong indications of copper in the lower levels of the mine. 

The possibility of big copper porphyries in this part of the country has intrigued me ever since. And this field visit gave one of the first opportunities to really find out what’s happening on the ground. 

That chance is only just available now after the KNU rebel army signed a peace agreement with Myanmar’s government in 2012. Opening the door for our visit. 

And what we saw confirmed all my suspicions about the potential here. 

In fact, the trip was looking promising from the moment we pulled up into the local village near the area. With this town turning out to have a Burmese name that translates roughly as “city of gold”. 

Local names like this can actually be one of the best guides available to an explorationist. (I remember finding gold in Colombia at a place called “Cerro Vetas” — or “vein hill” in Spanish.) And in this case, the moniker turned out true to its word. 

Touring the area, we found local working after local working. With small miners extracting gold-bearing ores down to impressive depths of up to 30 meters. All of the operations paralleled a major ridge — an obvious source for the mineralization, but which hadn’t been scratched by locals who have been sticking to the valley floors. 

This was a great sign. And things got even better when we reached a topographically lower level in the area — and began to see strong signs of copper mineralization, chalcocite and chalcopyrite, appearing alongside the gold. 

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Travelling by local boat to some of the gold (and copper!) showings around the City Of Gold

As at the Mawchi mine, this seems to suggest a major copper-gold (plus tin and tungsten, and who knows what else) porphyry system lurking here. 

Our investigations are continuing in this frontier, but it looks to be one of the most exciting showings I’ve seen in my career. Hope to have more for you over the coming months as we rediscover the city of gold further.

In the meantime, have a great weekend. Let’s see what next week brings in the seemingly accelerating commodities markets. 

Here’s to cities, lost and found,

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Dave Forest

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