My “wired” fox terrier howled at 4.00am this morning. There was nothing afoot except maybe that he had an incandescent urge to look at the stars. Or maybe he too was having nightmares about shrinking global zinc inventories. I was up and about and thought maybe I should just write a few lines. It has been about four months since my last confession. The zinc price was at $1,850 per tonne then in early June and now it is $2,323 per tonne. This most recent price surge is a delayed response to mine closures. The mine-supply shortfall is now finally feeding through the system. I realise that a few of us have been like voices crying in the wilderness but the wolf came in the end. Global stocks are now at 750,000 tonnes of zinc metal or just 18 days of global consumption. Three and a half weeks has been a tipping point in the past. There is finally a realisation that quality is poor in the corral of mustangs. Maybe a couple will be broken in as the best of a small herd. Is this group of mangy piebald what the next generation of mines depends upon?
I have been to Turkey three times over the summer. There in south-central Anatolia I saw drill core of massive zinc mineralization. It was limestone once. The limestone was completely replaced by zinc and sulphur. At improbable grades above 60 percent zinc. Why improbable? Because stoichiometrically this mineralization represents almost saturation levels of sphalerite. Sphalerite is a zinc sulphide mineral. It is a beautiful and extraordinary thing to see.
These small but ultra high-grade zinc mines are in the Taurus Mountains north of Adana. Adana in south central Anatolia has a population of 1.7 million. It is the fifth largest city in Turkey. Cicero when he was 55 years old took up the position of proconsul of Cilicia for a year from May 51 BC. His instructions were to keep nearby Cappadocia loyal to the empire. He managed to keep the period of his rule calm during an uprising in Syria. Sounds familiar?
There has been little exploration of this mineralized trend since Cicero was the proconsul. Geologists call these mineralizing systems Carbonate Replacement Deposits (CRD). Zinc is one of the more mobile metals in hyrothermal systems. It finds its way out to the margins of CRD’s. At the tips of the tentacles of these systems a prospector might find zinc carbonate. But that was only where the mineralization breached surface. And that is if they were looking. Zinc was unknown to Europe until the end of the 16th century so we find no Roman workings along this “zinc trend”. Who knows, maybe we are seeing the tip of the iceberg and somebody cares now.
Adana has an old Stone bridge across the Seyhan River built by the Romans between 100 and 300 AD. This bridge was an important crossing of the Seyhan along an extension to the Silk trade route. The Silk route ran from Central Asia and through Aleppo in Syria to Antioch. Until 2007 this bridge was the oldest bridge in the world open to cars. It is now only open to pedestrians.
I am busy now with like-minded souls exploring for zinc in Ireland. We are exploring around some historic silver-rich lead mines which punched through to surface. Methinks these old lead mines “pin” embolisms of zinc mineralisation at depth. Shallee is one of these old argentiferous lead mines in our sights. It is near the Silvermines zinc-lead mine which closed in 1982. We call ourselves Group Eleven (G11).
Rumours of the demise of exploration are greatly exaggerated. Now the greatest gamble is not to risk. The sun has not set. It glints and winks as it slides along the horizon before the rising. Exploration is more art than science. Jean Cocteau said “art is science made clear”. Exploration is much more passion and imagination than sanguine calculation and choleric promotion. It is discovery and it is frontier beyond the familiar mind-set. It is detective work and the careful gathering of clues. Discovery is all about solving the crime.
I had an eye test recently. I was prescribed a supplement with nutrients to help maintain the macula. The macula is a specialised part at the back of the eye responsible for our detailed, central vision. Zinc is a key ingredient as it helps maintain normal vision. I knew that zinc puts lead in your pencil but I never realised that it was so important for a healthy eye. It was the vision that zinc had run out which woke me in the night. Maybe I am taking too much zinc.
Disclosure: I am an exploration geologist, Chairman of Group Eleven Resources Ltd (G11) a private Irish zinc exploration company and a non executive director of Pasinex Resources Ltd (Canada – CSE).
John P. Barry
Managing Director of Irus Consulting Ltd. and Professional Geologist
A widely travelled and highly experienced economic geologist, John Barry is a confidential counsellor to the likely investor contemplating a considerable investment in the intricate business of mining metals. Dont take a flyer and trust altogether in luck and invest your money in an exploration or mining project on the strength of a printed prospectus or the advice of an interested friend without the preliminary investigation and site visit of a reliable geologist with a basic grasp of commerical reality. Irus Consulting provides strategic and practical management advice and guidance to its clients. Time is a precious commodity for my clients, and indeed myself, as it relentlessly ebbs away and so I try as best I can to avoid the mediocre - those projects and their champions which do not engender enthusiastic belief and passion.
Irus Services Include:
- High-level strategic advice
- Practical guidance and assistance on project sourcing, acquisition and implementation
- Rapid identification of key project value-drivers and potential fatal flaws.
- Capacity building and coordination of external consultants.
- Design and targeting of effective marketing campaigns
John Barry was part of very small teams which discovered and sourced several multi-million ounce gold deposits in Africa. He has worked as an economic geologist since 1988 and as a consultant and then responding to the entrepreneurial spirit he was a founder and manager of three public resource companies which raised a total of US$70million. These resource companies are currently successfully exploring and developing gold and base metal projects in Europe, and sub-Sahara Africa. John has seen a lot of rocks working for consultancies such as CSA in both Ireland and Australia and as Senior Associate Geologist with Chlumsky Armbrust & Meyer LLC which is based in Denver. He is a specialist in zin-lead exploration and in 1992 joined the exploration team which discovered the Lisheen zinc-lead deposit in Ireland as the resource was being expanded in the first couple of years after discovery and in 2008 led the first non Polish exploration company to successfully enter and acquire a major resource-project in the Upper Silesian Mississippi-Valley-Type (MVT) zinc-lead district in southern Poland the worlds largest minerlised district of its kind. John (P.Geo and EurGeol) holds a Masters Degree in Geology from Pennsylvania State University and a MBA from the Edinburgh School of Business, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.
I would like to think that I have shown the tenacity, patience and focus required to implement many of my better ideas over the years and that I have learned valuable lessons from some failures. I believe one of my strengths is in communicating quite complex technical ideas in a concrete way that can be easily understood. I am a team- builder and motivator by projecting my enthusiasm and vision for a project. I am committed to the development of young geologists through supportive delegation. John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is Managing Director of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy: Irus Consulting Ltd. Please visit www.irusconsulting.com for more information and free newsletter registration.
John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is MD of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy Irus Consulting Ltd.