Just home from a four-week journey that took me to Peru, Chile, Keystone CO, Banff, and Ekati NWT. It is good to be back in the house where you can throw off the formalities of travel, eat simple food, and get drunk in private.
They say that Peruvian food is the best in the world. Indeed it is if you are in a fancy, expensive place in Lima. But go to a mine and eat what the miners eat, and it is terrible beyond belief. Rice & beans and other unrecognizable substances of gooey texture. I lost weight. Maybe it was the altitude = 14,500 ft. You walk slow and breathe deep in those conditions.
Santiago has some fantastic places to eat. We went south, far south, to a mine in high mountains and very beautiful. The best meal was a barbecue eaten in a wooden lodge with many bottles of mine (not a dry site). The conversation was animated as they probed me on Mt Polley and how they could avoid a repeat.
Then to Keystone, Colorado and the conference on Tailings and Mine Waste. I blogged a lot about that and no more to say other than another beautiful place.
Hence to Banff in Alberta and the Banff Spring Hotel, surely the most beautiful place ever. I was at the wedding of a fellow from the oil sands. He deserves much happiness with his wife who is a wonderful person.
Then to one of those diamond mines in the far north of the Northwest Territories. Here the food is superb–turkey and the rest on Thanksgiving day, a day one which we went into the field, the snow, and bright sun to see tailings.
While at Ekati, I spent many hours talking to two great guys from the companies whose names grace the title of this posting. They make and install screens at mines from Australia to Zimbabwe, from Eritrea to Zambia, with Canada and the USA inbetween. I know nothing of screens so my opinion is limited. Apparently they have a process for blending and fusing various metals into screens that solve most screening problems in mining. The impressive part of our discussions in that the companies have grown by about twenty percent per year for the past ten years. Now almost eighty percent of the South African production is exported.
These guys travel far more than I do. They have seen more parts of the world than ever I will. They have travel tales to tell that I never want to experience. They warn that Venezuela is the worst place to be: getting into a cheap taxi and being robbed blind by thugs. Lesson learnt; never get into a cheap cab in a foreign place—make sure a certified person picks you up. In my case I get from the company on whose behalf I am travelling a photo of the person who will pick me up at the airports and I am warned not to go with anybody other than the person in the photo.
Thus we spent many happy hours chatting about mining travels, mining issues, and the state of mining in South Africa. We agreed that when Julius Malema comes to power there is no option other than to flee as he is a malignant dictator who will take South Africa where Cuba and Zimbabwe are now. Here are few photos of travel.