Hence from Perth on a gruelling flight to LAX. A flight designed to tire you out if you need more than four hours a night sleep, even though you theoretically get four from Perth to Sydney and twelve from Sydney to Los Angeles. At least you have plenty of time to contemplate the state of the world as long hours pass by in a small seat to the symphony of plane engines and iPad music. Still you must ask: why does anybody in their right mind willingly go to Australia from North America when they have not yet explored the Rockies or the four-corners of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
You can contemplate the wonders of Perth, a beautiful, expensive city by the river. Of Fremantle, a town of quiet charm by the harbor. Or the grand homes along the coast. Mining has brought great riches to this city. Many of my friends from the early days in South Africa are now here and living very well in more costly houses than I own in Vancouver and Huntington Beach. These folk, ordinary engineers in Johannesburg, are now specialists, consulting to the Pacific mining industry and flying as specialists to China and Indonesia, and back to Africa.
Here in the leafy confines of West Perth are all the big mining houses that control world-wide operations. Along with them are some 500 junior mining companies, all seeking that elusive goal of a rich ore body they can dress up and sell to a mid or major, or at least investors with faith and money. One of my old friends told me that no more than 200 of the juniors actually have a potentially viable ore body; the rest are selling dreams. He said they should be banned from the stock markets, even as he bragged about the work coming through the door to compile financial documents for these self-same clients. Maybe he knows too much.
Maybe he is just not cognizant of the faith that drives some investors. For an extreme example of faith in mining investing, see this amazing article by David Baines of the Vancouver Sun–he is writing about investors in Ross Stanfiled Bullowai Mine and their inability to displace the chairman who is still supported by some of his defrauded shareholders. He tell this tale of one such investor:
One is Debby Raabel, a naturotherapist from Hinton, Alta.:
“I own shares in this mine and have been reading your articles. Are you related to any one of the Group of 12 dissidents [who are seeking to remove the company chairman from control of the company]? If not, does one of them hold shares in trust for you …? Reading your one-sided vindictive articles on Bul River makes me think you have a very personal interest in this mine.”
Now let me assure all readers that I have no interest in this matter other than as a journalist. When I asked Raabel what evidence — other than Stanfield’s representations — she was relying on to support her belief that the property was economically viable, we moved into another galaxy:
“Now FAITH is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for and the EVIDENCE of things not seen. Heb 11:1 AMEN and yes, yes, and yes I do live my life on faith and it’s a glorious, joyful, peaceful life. … Perhaps Jesus will return (and HE IS COMING SOON) before the mine produces anything, HALLELUJAH COME LORD JESUS!!!!”
What we have here is the very toxic mix of business and faith. I have learned there is a large contingent of devout Christians within the overall Gallowai Bul River shareholder group. While I respect their faith, I sincerely hope they use their calculators, rather than their Bibles, to make investment decisions.
No doubt in Perth there also are people of faith who hold money in the Australian juniors with no viable ore bodies. But we must admit that Perth is an interesting example of sustainable mining–a place that grows nice and rich on mining and provides a good lifestyle for many, of faith or no faith.
While in Perth, I fell to chatting about Canadian Bill C-300. Much as I was amazed by the Australian take on taxing the mining industry to death, so they were amazed by the idea that a nation could abrogate their sovereign rights to enable dissidents in any country in the world to lodge complaints with bureaucrats in another country. Much as I though Australians crazy for seeking to tax to death, they think Canadians crazy for allowing themselves to be civil-righted to death. One man’s poison is another’s salvation….or something to that effect.
And so back to LAX where we were bombarded by e-mails related to Pebble Mine and the Marlin Mine and Canadian Bill C-300. And American policy re oil, oil wells, capping oil wells, and all is well in Afghanistan. And all those other topics of non-faith or belief. Ah well, tomorrow is Sunday so there is yet time to turn these non-insights into a sermon.