This is a transcription of the interview in its entirety.
Tom Wallace: Ladies and gents, welcome to juniorinsider.com. Today I have another interview from the 2017's Sprott Natural Resource Symposium. Although this is one of my shorter interviews, it is one of my favourites, as my guest, Mr. Brent Cook is truly a legend in both the mining industry and the newsletter business. Brent is an independent exploration analyst with over 30 years of experience in both property economics and geology evaluations. He is co-author with Joe Mazumdar, of Exploration Insights, the premier mining investment newsletter.
Brent has a bachelor of science in geology from Utah State University and as a seasoned geologist, his knowledge spans all areas of the mining business from the conceptual stage through to the detailed technical and financial modelling related to mine development and production.
He has worked in over 60 countries and virtually all geological environments, analysing and providing commentary on proposed mine sites. Today, Brent is going to talk to us about the positive sentiment returning to the exploration market. The regions that carry the best risk versus reward and the countries that investors should be watching that is starting to open up to the mining industry. Without further ado, here is the interview.
Brent, thanks for joining me.
Brent Cook: Glad to be here.
Tom Wallace: I wanted to ask you, the sentiment seems to have changed especially at the exploration level. Can you talk about what's going on in the junior market at the moment?
Brent Cook: There's sort of two things that I've seen going on. The first is that there's all of a sudden an interest amongst the retail crowd for discoveries. There've been, we've seen this in, I don't know, maybe a dozen stocks that have announced results that look like a discovery and the stock reacts automatically.
These are early stage things like, two I can think of, Orion and Novo. This is just surface work. They're seeing visible gold in rocks or in conglomerates and the stocks have tripled or quadrupled just on that. We've also seen drill results come out that knock a stock up two, three times and if it continues a stock does well but this is where the problem comes in. We can come to that later.
The second thing I'm seeing is that this year 2017, half the money raised by the juniors has been via placements and such through major mining companies. They put in $290 million into this sector this year. That's new. What that tells you is that they are starting to recognise the reality that they don't have the reserves down the road to replace what they're mining today. They need those and the best way to get them is via investing in much more efficient junior explorers.
Tom Wallace: In term of commodities, the mines are closing down and they're not finding as many of these large deposits that they need to replace their supplies, what commodities are really on your radar as sort of entering a shortage or a lack of supply?
Brent Cook: Well a lot of them actually, most of them to some degree, depends on the time frame but certainly zinc is in supply deficit. I think gold is in terms of economic deposits. Copper's heading that direction so those are the three that I think I'm most favourable on looking forward.
In terms of gold this isn't peak gold per se. There is trillions of ounces of gold in the ocean but it's only one part, three parts per trillion gold. What's really the shortage here is in high margin economic deposits. That's what the world needs and that's what there's a real shortage of so that's where I'm focused.
Tom Wallace: Talking about the low margin deposits and the gold being on the sea floor and everything like that, in terms of technology in the mining industry we saw fracking come into oil and that's obviously made a lot of these wells that were uneconomical or that ran dry, they’ve been able to bring them back into production and explore lots of areas that they never would have been able to do. Is there any technology that's on your radar, it might not be a game changer but is there any sort of improvements that have come in technology wise in the mining sector that are enabling companies to get better recoveries or to access ore that's economically viable that might not have used to have been?
Brent Cook: Well certainly there's some degree, I mean there's no big game changing event or technology like we saw in fracking. That's because metal deposits are exponentially more complex. It's not something you just drill a hole and crack it and get it. I think certainly we're developing geophysical tools that let us see deeper, but all we're seeing, all geophysics tell you is differences in rock characteristics. It doesn't tell you mineralization. We're seeing air satellite imagery ASTER imaging processing. That's the thing where you can pick up clay minerals from the air. That helps.
In terms of mechanisation, we're getting more and more efficient in mining that way. Those are all incremental helps but nothing big is going to change that is expensive and hard to find deposits and worse is we're having to look undercover. Most deposits at surface have been found and now we're going deeper and looking for more complicated deposits or I should say the deposits that are deeper become much more complicated to drill out, define, mine, permit et cetera.
Tom Wallace: In terms of that, when it comes to locations, countries that have known mineral deposits or known mineralization that haven't been extensively drilled are there any that are on your radar? If you were about to become a CEO of a company and you are looking for a continent or a country to target and go look for something because it hasn't been drilled heavily, what countries come to mind?
Brent Cook: It's more of regions I think, the Tethyan belt offers a lot of potential all the way from Serbia down into as far as you can get without getting into trouble into Iran. Scandinavian countries are a good place to be looking. Australia's always good. The Andes, all the way up through the Rocky Mountains. I was just in Japan looking at a project. The whole world is still ... You still look where all the top deposits have been found but now you've got to look undercover. That's where the real focus would be. It'd be chasing belts that are exposed and known into terrains that are covered.
Tom Wallace: For political consideration, are there any countries that are on your radar that may have been really hostile to mining and exploration that for whatever reason whether it be regime change or they need the cash or whatever it is. Are there any countries that are coming online, that are good places for miners to start getting in now to try and beat the rush?
Brent Cook: It seems like the Guiana Shield with the Suriname Guyana and probably French Guiana, that seems to be getting better. People finding stuff and building mines there. Burkina Faso that's doing quite well. That whole West African area is, the politics are in general improving. It's getting tougher in Brazil, Peru, the US. There's probably more countries that are getting worse than better in terms of exploration. I mean Venezuela's a basket case et cetera. Tanzania, they just slapped $190 billion dollar tax fee on Acacia. Did you see that?
Tom Wallace: Yeah, I did see that yeah.
Brent Cook: Okay.
Tom Wallace: Do you think that, I mean the major stock markets look pretty frothy and I don't want to paint a doomsday scenario but if we do see like another 2008 or something like that do you think that will reverse any of this political constriction on mining companies when these countries realise that that's the only thing they've got going for them like why are they shooting it in the foot? Do you think there are any countries that would be open to sort of going, "Hey maybe I made a mistake. Let's let these guys in again."
Brent Cook: We seem to be seeing that happening in Ecuador. Maybe Bolivia but politicians in general react looking in the rear view mirror. I don't see any of that happening right away.
Tom Wallace: Well right, yeah. Thanks for your time Brent and I appreciate it.
Brent Cook: Hey, thank you. Good to meet you.
Tom Wallace: Ladies and gents I hope you enjoyed the interview. I would highly encourage you to head over to ExplorationInsights.com. The link is in the description below. Both Brent and Joe, the authors of Exploration Insights are some of the most knowledgeable economic geologists in the industry. Their track record in picking winners in this sector is second to none. If you're looking for the next 100 bagger, Exploration Insights is the place to start. I'd also encourage you to visit Juniorinsider.com and sign up to become an insider so you don't miss out on any of the content that I don't post publicly.