Nothing beats homemade ore – by Russell Noble (Canadian Mining Journal – December 2012)

The Canadian Mining Journal is Canada’s first mining publication providing information on Canadian mining and exploration trends, technologies, operations, and industry events.

Working abroad may sound exciting and almost exotic, but as many of you know, it can be a total nightmare filled with hostility, sickness, and worst of all, false promises and cost overruns.

Nevertheless, Canadian companies continue to look offshore for their futures and fortunes but more often than not, they come home with their hopes shattered and few answers for their investors as to why things didn’t turn out as planned.

There’s no question that venturing offshore has a mystique about it that drives miners to new frontiers, but I just
wish many of those adventurers would give Canada a second look before investing their time and, moreover, their stakeholders’ money in foreign projects.

I know that some of the properties being explored or developed offshore hold outstanding prospects for Canadians in terms
of minerals, but on the downside, what about where they’re located and even worse, what about the odds of coming home with
a buck or two?

Even some major companies with seemingly unlimited financial and topnotch managerial resources are looking pretty sheepish lately as they admit to the fact that a million dollars worth of gold is going to cost a million-and-one dollars to produce.

Naturally that’s an exaggeration, but sadly not too far from the truth in some cases as the cost of mining, especially in
far-away places, is getting out of hand. In some cases, by billions of dollars! Powering up a mine in the middle of
nowhere, for instance, costs as much in diesel fuel as a fleet of city buses uses in a year, and getting other essentials like water, both for the mine and its workers, plus food supplies and accommodations, can also add up to be budget breakers. Again, I ask, is working offshore worth it?

Personally, I don’t think so because from what I read, but more importantly, what I hear from various people I meet
almost every day, the risks associated with offshore work seem to far outweigh the rewards.

Mind you, many of those people I talk with on a routine basis can’t afford to even think about working abroad but,
nonetheless, they are miners or financial people in most cases and they know the exact costs of doing business here in
Canada and to me, at least, they seem to speak somewhat intelligently too about the costs associated with working anywhere
but here in Canada.

In any event, I think that some of the Canadian companies already working offshore, or those contemplating taking the plunge, should invest closer to home because there’s plenty of ore right here that should be tapped before heading off
to foreign pastures.

Recent headlines indicate that Canada is growing in popularity with foreign investors and miners moving in with
increasing frequency, and they’re not doing so on a hope and a prayer of finding something. They know what Canada has to offer and they’re gearing up to take advantage of the opportunities we’re serving up.

We’re simply giving away too many opportunities and for that reason, I think Canadian mining companies should reel in their offshore thinking and focus more on some of the homegrown ore that’s easier to reach and, perhaps most of all, is located in friendlier neighbourhoods.

Working abroad was once a sign of prosperity because it indicated that a company has a solid-enough base here in Canada to venture beyond our borders, but now I think it’s time to bring it on home before home becomes a foreign land too.