I made a trek to the Newrange Gold (TSXV:NRG) Pamlico Project in Nevada and I hope you can, too. It's a great way to spend a few days. My only problem is how to share it all with you. As they say, a map with scale of one-one isn't particularly useful so I'm going to have to find some way to pick out the salient bits and share them with you.
Before I do, I will briefly mention the idea of "information arbitrage" that Rick Rule refers to in some of his public appearances. If you're investing in this market, he says, then you're competing against him and his advantage in gathering and interpreting information about these companies. He is not wrong! If you're reading this, then you're probably pretty dialed in but be careful out there.
This is only the second time I've been to an exploration site and it's humbling to realize that these guys are out in the desert working on something that is a cross between a science project and a construction site.
And Pamlico is a 20-minute drive from a US town that is thriving on spending by the US military! I can only imagine what it's like in a place that takes weeks to get to or only allows a 3-month window for you to do any work on the ground. No wonder the odds are stacked against success in mineral exploration.
One of my favourite parts of the whole trip might just be the drive from Reno to Hawthorne. It was 90-minutes or 2 hours long and was one of the best times I've had to talk with Robert Carrington.
One funny story that I think Robert would let me share is about gambling. He's from Nevada -- born and raised -- but he's not much of a gambler.
Nevada has a reputation for being full of degenerate gamblers. Yes, there are one-armed bandits in the airport but it seems that most people who have problems with gambling are from somewhere else. The locals are more likely to be dealers at a card table than players from what I understand. That was really clear when I asked Robert about his experience gambling.
He said that he has gambled once in his life. At the end of a lunch at a casino with his brother, someone walked by offering 10-cent stakes on some game of chance. They bought a ticket and won $50. It paid for their lunch and he says he's never gambled again.
Of course, you could say that serving as an executive for a junior mining company is a huge gamble but that's debatable. I didn't see Robert as a gambler. He is a rock hound, though.
I spent a good while poking around the waste dumps at the Merritt Decline with a metal detector trying to find rock that would set it off just like in the Novo videos. I couldn't do it! I spent half-an-hour doing it, but didn't find much other than some old nails. Does that mean there's no gold in those old waste dumps?
I'd like to come back to that comment -- junior mining is risky. It seems obvious enough, but I wonder about it. There's a pretty severe chance of an impairment of capital when you realize that the business is just a bunch of guys poking around in the wilderness. There's not much to fall back on with these early stage exploration companies, but keep in mind that they don't have debt. If you understand that it's going to cost money to keep playing rounds at the arcade, then is it so risky?
For several months now, I've sensed that Nevada is on the come-up. I haven't really had much of a basis for that suspicion until now, but everything I saw on the ground would suggest that it's a fair assessment.
The traffic in Reno is apparently some of the worst in the country right now. A big part of that, as the story goes, is a massive exodus from California of Silicon Valley workers and their corporate campuses. They are leaving the taxes and regulations of California for Nevada, which seems to be much closer to the ideals of "Don't tread on me" than other places in the USA today.
With the stories of Elon Musk's push into Nevada and other things happening in the state, it's clear that I'm not the only one who sees opportunity there now. The history of the state of Nevada seems to be one of boom-bust. Just look at the history of mining at Pamlico.
It's telling that Newrange has been working on the property for over a year now and are just doing their first drilling away from the Merritt Decline, which was built in the 2000s. The many miles of underground workings could keep the company busy for quite some time if they chose to survey them exhaustively.
The last moments of the site visit, I pointed out a small adit that had been covered up by rocks and dirt. Robert quickly pushed it aside to make space to climb inside the old working. I followed him and spent 15 or 20 minutes looking around inside with a metal detector while he went down to a lower level, exploring a place he'd never been before. I asked him about it afterwards and he said one of his favourite things is looking around old underground workings at site.
What he's found at the various sites around Pamlico so far would suggest it's time well spent, especially when you consider what Nathan Tewalt and Thomas Chadwick are up to on surface. Between the three of them and the growing team they are assembling, it is a powerhouse exploration setup.
With a team like that, you can rest assured the work will get done in the field the right way but have to wonder about what will happen in the concrete jungle while they are out at site. Markets move quick and some investors quickly tire of stories that they don't hear about everyday.
I've been impressed by what I've seen from the group when they come to town and put on their suits. I know others have, too.
It may be that Newrange doesn't become a particularly well-known story among the unwashed masses of speculators in the junior markets. That will be a deal-breaker for some because of fears of a lack of liquidity in secondary markets, but I think the company has a good everyman story that will draw a lot of support from people who matter.
What's more, things may heat up for the major producers and a project like Pamlico may start to look like something they can't afford not to own!
A lot of stars have to align to make something a must-have project for a major. Those wins are few and far between, but the few that I've heard about seem to hinge on the discovery team more than anything else. It's not total size or jurisdiction so much as what work was done, who did it, and how they did it. That's the legacy Robert, Nathan, and Thomas are building now.
I asked them, why do they do this? They looked at me, looked at each other, and said,
"You don't know till you try it -- come out with us one day and we will show you. If you like it, then you like it. If you don't, you don't. It's that simple."