The Evil Diaries: In-tray sentimentality

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Evil discusses Orosur Mining, Moneysupernarket, Which?, Prince Charles and his in-tray…

I got a call from Pablo Marcet, the exploration geologist at Orosur (OMI), this morning. He was in effect part of the package that comprised Waymar the Colombian prospect acquired by Orosur last year.

Dealing with Colombia first, it is clear that Pablo reckons that there is a really good mine in waiting. However, and being realistic, the well trodden steps of establishing a resource, preparing a feasibility study and financing production equipment and plant is a long way off and might cost $50m to $100m. So, in cash output terms, Colombia will just have to wait.

Continuing the approach to Nirvana, and over in Chile, Anilo could throw up summat – at least Orosur is not on the hook financially. However, Pantanillo is a different project in that it could be 1m+ ounces. There is the problem that it is up 4,000 metres, which makes it expensive to develop, and, in the end, some form of joint venture financing partner will be required – it is perhaps $50m to bring into production. But Pablo clearly thinks that, gold price permitting, it will happen.

Finally, and back on the money button, San Gregorio should be seen quite differently to how the market now sees it. Currently it is seen as having, say, 3-5 years production in reserves. But Pablo reckons that he can see the life of the mines extended further than current production absorbs reserves. This is because the gold is held in a “granite greenstone” form and could (I am not making this up) go on for centuries.

Please note that there is a provision in Orosur’s balance sheet of the order of $5m  to cover tidying up matters on closing down operations: perhaps this provision is not required. All this underlines my point that, given the probable price of gold, Orosur shares are very cheap at 12p.

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At last the House of Commons is waking up to the frauds perpetrated on price comparison web sites. Moneysupermarket (MONY) is now around 250p – a surprise, really, given the publicity attending curious practices within this industry.

In this connection, Which? is mildly caught up in this price comparison web site scandal. This is a shame. For I well remember when Which? got going in the sixties it was regarded by most sane people as some sort of ordered attempt on behalf of consumers orchestrated by the Consumers Association, proprietors of Which?

Once Which? loses this reputation it will take a lot of effort to re-establish it. Which? has itself withdrawn from hiding the incidence of its taking undisclosed commissions. But it is still liable to compensate consumers who have been deceived. Perhaps the FCA can step up to  the plate – well, occasionally, pigs have wings.

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HM Queen is a staggeringly successful monarch. She never puts a foot wrong. It is partly through a disciplined approach to the business in hand but it must surely also be true that she is a natural. And she uses her brain.

But that is not so readily said of Prince Charles, as I now evidence: last weekend’s Spectator featured an article by Nick Cohen, who self-declaredly is a republican and who here covered the strange affair of Edzard Ernst. Ernst is a seriously clever fellow who specialises in investigating cancer cures and has done so for twenty-five years. He was so engaged at Exeter University until Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles’s bookkeeper complained to the Exeter University authorities such that Ernst got the bullet. Ernst’s crime? He queried Prince Charles’s comments on curing cancer with alternative therapies. Let’s be clear: it is one thing to have a wally as future king but it is quite another to have one throwing his weight around and deeply damaging a scientist’s career.

(I suppose that I should add that Charles has a nose which is very similar to my own even if, inevitably, not quite as handsome. However, it is tending pretty red. Is this a consequence of sunshine or drink or both? I think we should be told.)

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The mystery of my in-tray.

I have had the same in-tray – it is of stout perspex construction – for about thirty years. I think of myself as very efficient in that I do not let matters sit unattended. However, every now and then, when the pile of papers exceeds one foot, I weed it and get really serious about chucking out redundant papers. And, the lower I go, the more sentimentally attached to the content I become. So much so that I have never cleared the final inch or so. Indeed there must be papers there from well over twenty years ago. As I type I can’t be sure, still less claim to know what they are about, since I have not looked. Sad or what.


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