Colombian Gold: Porphyry of Belief
Source: Thom Calandra, Ticker Trax (12/9/09)
Colombia's president has a 98% approval rating, and so, it is clear to me, to do this lush nation's outcropping of gold and energy companies.
Here is how Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Funds put it to me in our recent tour of Pacific Rubiales (TSX: T.PRE, Stock Forum), the booming new oil producer. "El dinero nunca duerme y va a donde se respeta," Mr. Holmes, CEO of the natural resources asset manager, said. Loosely translated, it means, "Money never sleeps; it goes where it is respected."
As we reported in a Ticker Trax Planetary Prospect blast today (Wednesday), Colombia's gold, oil, coal and copper properties are so H-O-T, the nation of 44 million needs a bunch of fresh new ventanas.
If you take the meaning.
Total gold production for Colombia, a nation that led South America in the category until violence spilled blood on technically brilliant mines (that is: until the late 1930s), likely will not surpass 400,000 ounces this year.
If the promise of Ventana Gold's (TSX: T.VEN, Stock Forum) freshly scrubbed and potentially vast resource in the California-Las Vetas District of the country overcomes title disputes and skeptics, "What we have here is something the country has not seen since Placer (Dome) was claiming concessions in the '20s and '30s," says 16-year Colombia veteran Robert Carrington of Colombian Mines Corp. (TSX: V.CMJ, Stock Forum).
In our Ticker Traxtravels across the country this week, I saw a capitalization pattern that likely will be repeated several times in coming months in a nation that many North Americans regard as dangerous, poor and rife with cocaine processing plants. Total disbelief becomes transformed almost instantaneously. Thus, Ventana Gold and Pacific Rubiales reach as high as $4 billion off of miniscule market capitalizations—all because they reached internal targets.
As for common perceptions of Colombia, here's the truth. Makeshift and wildcat gold mills? Yes. I lived here briefly many years ago, and I can tell you the nation of Colombia is lush and alive, the people as honest and as comely beautiful as ever, and its cities and jungle interiors sparkling and rich. The middle class is probably the most vibrant in South America. The democracy of the nation is steady. The narco-terrorists are even inspiring TV series whose titles are taken in vain. More about that in Ticker Tra..
Yet, as with many emerging gold nations, there are some companies with a market worth best described as cheaper than the chicle (gum) you buy on the street.
Bob and Gloria Carrington and Nate Tewalt's tiny Colombian Mines, even after having risen from the ashes earlier this fall, and climbing to 81 cents Canadian Wednesday, is still less than a $20 million company, fully diluted.
We shall report more later this week on CMJ, on Ari Sussman and Bob Allen's Continental Gold (trading halted under Crosus Resources), about Medoro Resources (TSX: V.MRS, Stock Forum) and its thickly rich yet troubled Marmato, whose travails I have been following and reporting on since April 2008, as well as several others.
Continental's biggie project is Buritica in the Antioquia Department, a two-hour drive from Medellin. Medoro's gold-dusted wonderland, Marmato, crawling with illegal miners and politics, is three hours in the other direction from the city of 4 million.
As with Mongolia in 2002 and 2003, I can say I was there. I saw. And (at several properties, such as those owned by CMJ, Pacific Rubiales, Medoro) I believe.
I do not own any shares of CMJ. But Bob and his tight-knit group, including his Medellin-born wife, Gloria, own about 35% of the company. The shares, like most Colombia gold mines these days, is trading about 1,000 times more shares daily during this past week than its one-year daily average.