This week in Pierce Points:
Venezuela talked big on gold. The government says it’s close to a $5 billion deal with the world’s largest miners.
India upped gold import taxes. In a surprise move, the world’s top consumer added a new sales duty on jewelry.
Petrobras got $10 billion from China. In return, the beleaguered producer will guarantee crude supplies.
Oil and gas debt faced record problems. Moody’s says its “stress index” is now higher than during the last recession.
East Africa natgas got a big boost. A new $6 billion pipeline from Mozambique to South Africa could lift development.
On Top Of The World’s Biggest Silver Project
From Buddha to the Virgin Mary in less than 48 hours.
That was my story the past week. When I departed the temples of Bangkok for a one-day stop at home, before turning around and heading to Panama City for the past week.
This was my first visit to Panama in a couple of years—dating back to the time when this was the go-to transit hub for Colombia, and the rich, sedimentary-hosted copper projects I’ve been endeavoring to unearth in that country.
One of the new experiences I had this time around was a jaunt around Panama City’s old town, Casco Viejo. Which, as the snap below shows, holds some awe-inspiring church ruins—rivaling the beauty of Asia’s Buddhist temples that I’d been marveling at the week before.
The ancient churches of Casco Viejo, Panama City are a sight to behold
And this last trip to Asia, mainly spent in the wilds of northern Myanmar, confirmed to me that temples aren’t the only treasure waiting in this part of the world.
As I’ve described in the past, much of my exploration work in Myanmar the last few years has been focused on the silver-lead-zinc province of northwestern Shan state.
And, simply put, the prizes to be had here are unparalleled on the planet.
One of the highlights of this trip was a traverse around the ridges surrounding the historic Bawdwin mine. An operation that fired up under British operators at the turn of the 1900s.
Records that I viewed this trip, revealed some phenomenal numbers on just how rich a producer the Bawdwin mine was. With production figures showing that between 1909 and 1974, Bawdwin produced a full 11.5 million tonnes of ore—grading the exceptional values of 31.8% lead and zinc, along with 525 grams per tonne silver.
Those are numbers of a magnitude we don’t see often today. And in fact, the Bawdwin ores were probably richer than this—based on evidence from production that began even before the colonial British arrived on the scene a century ago.
You see, the hills around the Bawdwin mine are dotted with adits. But these are not from the “modern” phase of mining here.
In fact, one of these adits bears an inscribed date of the year 1412. A time when miners from China crossed into Myanmar and began extracting rich silver ores from the hills near Bawdwin.
Between 1412 and about 1850, records show that China’s miners continued to produce silver here. And in fact, the evidence of centuries of such operations can still be seen today—a fact I witnessed firsthand on my ridge traverses.
The incredible thing is, these hilltops are still dotted with smelter slags. Chunks of melted black rock left over after Chinese miners flash-melted these rich ores to pour off the silver.
Walking over the ridges, I saw kilometer after kilometer of these slags. Suggesting that mining here was extensive—even under the primitive operating conditions of antiquity.
This tells us these early miners extracted a large portion of the very highest-grade ore. Meaning that the incredible grades I mentioned above at the Bawdwin mine are what was left after the lodes had been high-graded.
The mind reels imagining what sorts of grades would be seen in virgin ore here. And that’s what my associates and I are now hoping to test—gearing up for the first-ever modern drilling program around the Bawdwin mine.
If all goes as planned, one or more of these initial testholes will locate the buried ore bodies that seem to be lurking here. With the evidence so far being exceptionally intriguing—such as hilltop soils that run up to 0.5% Pb, and mineralized cobbles in streams that assayed 61% lead/zinc and 305 g/t silver.
Of course, the opportunity to find a deposit of such scale is a testament to how little modern exploration has been carried out in Myanmar. A fact that is now changing rapidly—with major international conglomerates like Daewoo having recently established exploration offices in country, now carrying out drilling on copper prospects in Myanmar’s central Wuntho Arc.
As this work accelerates—aided by Myanmar’s increasingly open government—there are going to be spectacular finds made here. In fact, this may without exaggeration be the world’s last great mining frontier.
You can watch for more developments on the Bawdwin story at www.apmining.com. Or if you’re interested in receiving news releases directly from the company, drop me a line at [email protected].
I’m looking forward to getting home now, and getting back in touch with all that’s been happening in the resource world (especially amid the increasing fervor that seems to be building in the gold market).
Have a great weekend, and talk to you next week.
Here’s to going big and going home,