OKALLA CAMP – Fresh core emerging in smooth cylinders and catalogued row by row at this Cambodia gold camp is pale rose.
Dr. Adrian Mann’s contract drillers just pulled this sample from the ground (Hole 29). The column of rock from perhaps 100 meters deep shows potassic alteration and what looks like secondary feldspar.
Minerals explorer Angkor Gold (ANK in Canada; ANKOF in USA) is little known to those who visit this bountiful country seeking Buddhist temples and irrawaddy fresh-water dolphins flipping in the Mekong River.
Dr. Mann, a native of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), is vice president of exploration for Canada’s Angkor Gold. (Photo: Dr. Mann, left, with logistics aide at Phum Syarung camp – Thom Calandra) Back at Okalla, he and a director, fellow geologist Guillermo Salazar, is examining the pink coloration of the rock.
Mr. Salazar is one of the geologists whose footwork and accompanying scholarly articles led to the success of Copper Fox’s Schaft Creek copper-molybdenum-gold deposit in northwestern British Columbia, Canada.
Mr. Salazar and Dr. Mann are hoping they are at the edge of a potassic zone, on the cusp of seeing what geos call “sheeted ‘B’ quartz veins. These are suture veins that can carry, figuratively, rivers of gold and copper. Rich enough that such a strike for this revenue-shy nation would justify hundreds of millions tonnes of ore to be mined and processed locally. (Photo: Core at Okalla – Thom Calandra)
Two weeks later, Dr. Mann and team are into Hole 31 of a plotted drill program. They are seeing copper pyrites and traces of molybdenite amid stockwork veining. Also: molybdenum, a necessary alloy for stainless steel products.
Dr. Mann says, “That suggests a move towards economic grades of both gold and copper, although we’ve yet to get assays on the cores. We’re seeing molybdenite, which was rare to absent in the previous holes.” Assays from these holes will come from in-country labs within three weeks.
I take notice when geo-chemists, geologists, geophysicists and others pull fresh core that indicates grade-worthy mineralization. I have seen this happen on-site at at Goldgroup Mining’s Caballo Blanco in Mexico, where virgin core presented itself to open eyes. At Ivanhoe Mines’ Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia. At Gold Standard Ventures’ Railroad gold project in Nevada.
That is no guarantee it will happen again in Cambodia. We’ll know over the course of at least two drill programs and additional geophysical, geo-chem and electromagnetic probing.
Cambodia holds 14 million people and is a former French colony and neighbour of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. The extent of Angkor Gold‘s “country rock” by late 2013 could rival Cambodia’s abundance of Buddhist temples, rubber plantations, cashew trees and cassava farms.
As Angkor Gold shares set or flirt with fresh highs each day this month, investors can expect months of data bursts; data that reveal how much ore is contained across the prospector’s 2,600-square kilometers of poly-metallic targets and prospects.
— Australia’s Oz Minerals (OZL in Australia) and its pending $40 million transfer and sale of Cambodia gold properties to Renaissance Minerals (RNS in Australia) give investors a metric of $18 to $20 an ounce for compliant Khmer (Cambodian) gold in the ground. That sounds lukewarm, but the Oz transaction will set a template for Angkor Gold both to option some of its own vast property portfolio and to develop the rest all the way to cheaply funded production. (Shorter version of this article appears in The Gold Report.)
— That fresh comparable from Oz and Renaissance will benefit Angkor in coming months amidst a data flow of drill assays, stream sediments, electromagnetic surveys, soil geochem and chip sampling at 5 concessions and targets, perhaps six. There are geochemical and airborne magnetic surveys just ahead, too. Angkor has at least four licenses and three memoranda of understanding in Cambodia right now.
— Licenses and targets I have seen run the range: possible gold and copper porphyry at one; basalt cover and potassic alteration at another; veined systems at a third. Breccias and sulfidized epithermal as well are found on Angkor Gold ground. There is even a placer operation that could net Angkor Gold an ounce or more of gold daily after expenses and subcontracting costs.
— Angkor Gold is the only publicly traded Canada junior known to have fully permitted licenses in the democratic nation.
— Cambodia is cheap. Hiring rates run $300 a month for entry level laborers. A chef costs $400 monthly. Security forces, sometimes rented from the Army or local police forces, are in the same salary range. Angkor Gold has no bank debt and about $2 million of funding. I expect Mr. Weeks to seek a few million more Canadian dollars at current stock prices (45 cents to 50 cents) in a friends and family effort.
— Foreign direct investment at a yearly pace here is $5 billion or about double what it was 12 to 18 months ago. Internet, mobile and telecom (largely unregulated) are well above Third World standards. Roads are good and in places on par with those of more mature Vietnam and in some cases, those of Thailand.
— Dr. Mann now has five working camps by my visual count and 90-plus local geologists, contractors, logistics personnel and support staff in country. His staff include Australians, Khmer natives, Canadians and Laotians. (See: www.angkorgold.ca for descriptions & slide shows)
–– North Africa oil and gas negotiator Mike Weeks, plus eight-year Cambodia investor Richard Stanger and the ANK team, control 2,660 square kilometers of properties. That is big yet problematic.
— Drill rigs are operating round the clicking clock at concessions in Okalla 45 minutes in one direction from Banlung headquarters and in Oyadao one kilometer from the Vietnam border, 45 minutes the other way. The Oyadao spread sits almost kitty-corner to a multistory hotel and casino rising in pastel orange. (Photo: Electromagnetic surveyor Francis Thompson, thumbs up, and director Guillermo Salazar at Oyadao North prospect)
At Dokyong, yet another prospect near the Oyadao area, Dr. Mann has two local geologists identifying targets with the aid of rock-chip geochem, auguring, termite hill examinations and other methodologies.
Mining law here comes plainly from the Ministry of Mines & Energy and is modeled along strictures from Australia’s New South Wales.Geophysical data loom from what Dr. Mann calls a “bull’s-eye target” at Oyadao South, a vast parcel, flat as a rice paddy in Mekong Delta style and looking a lot like shallow copper, gold (and silver) “company makers” I have seen in Mongolia, Nevada, Peru and Ghana.
There are many geo-guess choices in Adrian Mann’s Cambodia property portfolio. Brecciated ore is a possibility at a rough swath of property called Ogama, for instance.
Most promising look to be scores of Ashanti type artisanal holes at Phum Syarung, a moonscape of termite hills and abandoned lean-tos at the southern end of the border prospects. Dr. Mann says his electromagnetic surveyors are combing the place.
The bearded Dr. Mann, a scarecrow wizard when he wears his Chinese cone hat, has a hunch Phum Syarung might be a shallow epithermal deposit of low grade gold with copper credit.
The EM team (Grant Roberts and Francis Thompson of Subsurface Imaging of New Zealand and Austhai Geophysical) also is on the ground at Border North (Oyadao); no airborne magnetics are permitted to cross a no-fly zone that buffers Cambodia and Vietnam.
Still, it is those multiple Okalla targets that stalk everyone at the company. Okalla’s contracted rig, operated by a White Horse, Canada, driller, is pulling core that shows off that pinkish hue with sniffs of molybdenum, iron and copper.
There are plenty of prospector choices in southeast Asia. Intrepid Mines (IAU) and its gold-copper porphyry at Tujuh Bukit in Indonesia come to mind. Angkor’s team and its privately held predecessor, Prairie Mining and Liberty Mining, have been at this for several years now in Cambodia.
Liberty, controlled by Mike Weeks and Mr. Stanger, still owns several Cambodia properties. CEO Weeks assures me anything of interest will find its way into Angkor’s hands at fully disclosed and equitable prices.
Australia’s Mr. Stanger also is founder and president of the Cambodia Association of Mining & Exploration Companies. His CAMEC has about 25 miners, drillers, labs and assorted Cambodian resource companies supporting it.
Risks are legion. Angkor Gold is a highly speculative company in a mostly untested mining jurisdiction. Cambodia and the rivers that course through it still display the scars, and physical landmines, of Pol Pot’s gruesome genocide. Add to that the 14-year war Cambodia fought against the Vietnamese to the north, ending in 1989 or so.
Two new assay labs operate within the country. Cell towers are everywhere, making mobile communications superb. Tourism appears brisk; motorcycle tours are everywhere. The New York Times this month featured Cambodia in its Sunday Travel Section. Excellent hotels in the capital and in the bush run $149 down to $69 per day. Manicures and pedicures cost $5 total.
On a side note: Angkor Gold CEO Weeks and wife Delayne Adams‘ outreaching community chores and contributions in this tropical nation were and are a big draw for me. See: Angkor Gold’s Community Services
Warning: if the company fails to manage its large property portfolio rapidly, and chuck its “lesser” properties to partners, the shares will value. I intend to add to my Angkor Gold shares, which last stood at 316,000.
THOM CALANDRA, March 16,, 2012
Thom Calandra’s work has appeared in newspapers, newsletters, magazines and across the Web. He is a founder of CBS MarketWatch, now Dow Jones MarketWatch. He also founded Ticker Trax for Stockhouse of Canada. His work can be seen at babybulls.com, which is a Torrey Hills Capital property. Thom is a principal of Torrey Hills Capital of Del Mar, California. In this article, Gold Standard Ventures and Goldgroup Mining are Torrey Hills clients. Thom owns 26,200 shares of Gold Standard Ventures. Thom supports the Gold Antitrust Action Committee at www.gata.org. He and his family live in Tiburon, California.
Thom owns 316,000 shares of Angkor Gold (ANK) purchased in the open market. His average is approximately 43 cents Canadian per share. Thom received nothing in the way of payment or shares from Angkor Gold. Thom received nothing from Cambodia operating company and predecessor Prairie Pacific Mining Corp., the private company that already has $8 million plied into the Cambodia dirt.