Gold

Earlier this year, a friend of mine mentioned that platinum, palladium and titanium are all the rage because of their strength-to-weight ratio and, well, that’s just what’s “in right now. If I was to go the more traditional route gold she told me to wait until the gold price dipped under $1,000 an ounce. (As most of us can see, that doesn’t look like it’s happening in the near term.)

However, my friend is not a trader or adviser. She’s a metalsmith and jewelry designer. I’m not a metals producer, buyer or speculator. No, folks, I am in a different market altogether.

I’m in the market for a wedding band.

You see, I’m getting married next summer. Having already made the proposal-and-engagement-ring leap, I am now beginning to think about what type of wedding band I should be buying. And although I know what I can afford (and will likely end up purchasing), the occasion gives rise to ponder: What are some metals other than gold that could really perform well in the future? Any “sleepers that would make a great investment?

With the Financial Times reporting this morning that jittery speculators have pushed the price of gold above $1,420 an ounce, now seems a good time to think outside the box when it comes to wedding bands.

Over a series of posts, I will lay out a look into particular metals that may perform well in the longer term. I do not intend on, nor do I foresee, having the need to cash in on my investment; but it could pay out to consider the classic go-to mantra, “Buy Low, Sell High. A more pertinent question: what if I lose the damn thing? If that were to happen, a simple cost analysis of the current precious metals market now could surely pay dividends later.

Stay tuned, as they used to say.

–Taras Berezowsky

It seems the gold rush is slowly working its way up again.

With an already weak dollar, QE2 around the corner and the price of gold at around $1350 per ounce”and few signs of letting up”certain market watchers and product providers are pointing to these factors as the main reason to invest in gold and other precious-metal securities.

Indeed, if QE2 goes through, many analysts say that gold prices will spike sharply.

One of the liveliest (and certainly lesser-known, at least in some U.S. markets) ways to invest in precious metals is with commodity ETFs. Now, one of the world’s leading promoters and issuers of these funds, ETF Securities (ETFS), is making a run on U.S. markets. More on ETFS’s performance can be found here.

On Nov. 2, at a precious metals briefing in Chicago, ETFS made their bid to prove to Chicago investors the global importance and potential value of investing in precious metals “baskets”bundles of precious metals securities”in this economy.

“At $1300 an ounce, is the price of gold really expensive? No, it’s not! said David Hightower, president and co-founder of The Hightower Report and a speaker at the briefing. “Just shows that times are changing.

In his view, gold’s market price should match the cost of production. By inducing another round of quantitative easing, Hightower later said, the Fed is extending the gold market for the future.

But what do commodity ETFs mean for metals buyers? In terms of gold and silver, probably not much. However, as far as platinum and palladium prices go”and even more importantly, base metals such as copper and aluminum”key developments are on the horizon.

After already introducing physically backed gold ETFs in the U.S. (traded on NYSE Arca), ETFS is set to introduce base metals baskets soon. When MetalMiner asked Nicholas Brooks, Head of Investment Research and Strategy at ETFS, when to expect an announcement on physically-backed base metal baskets, he kept mum.

As we look to watch metals such as copper and aluminum trade on ETFs, the biggest concern is when, not if, inflation will hit. The implications for buyers may be huge.

With Bernanke playing with QE fire the second time this decade, folks such as Hightower see no way around it. “In my 30 years of experience, he said, “I have not seen such a loaded macroeconomic setup for inflation, and politicians think they can stop this.

Regardless, it behooves investors and metals buyers to be educated on commodity ETFs so that they not only are aware of the risks, but of the potential rewards. Firms such as ETF Securities want to spread the word to buyers that the terms “commodity and “ETF, when used side-by-side, will no longer sound as opposite as oil and water.

–Taras Berezowsky

As a follow-up to our earlier piece, we had a chance to catch up with Will Rhind, Head of US Operations for ETF Securities, “a leading promoter and issuer of ETF Securities exchange traded products (ETPs), specializing in commodities, with global assets under management of over $22 billion as of October 2010,” according to their website. We covered a range of topics with Will including speculation over a physically backed aluminum or copper ETF.

MM: Who are the investors in your funds?

ETF Securities: We aren’t broker/dealers so we only see the intermediaries who manage money for individuals (e.g. hedge funds, mutual funds and wealth managers). The investors tend to be anybody from mutual funds down to private wealth managers who are managing money for those with multi-millions of dollars of net worth.

MM: We attended a scrap conference a few weeks ago and one panel participant (a nickel trader) said that he thought the mood in the US was decidedly “pessimistic vs. the European markets (he had recently spoken at a conference in Italy). What is your take on market pessimism in terms of what you are seeing?

ETF Securities: Gold prices themselves are being driven higher at the moment because of the softening of the US dollar and another potential bout of quantitative easing. Hard assets are inflating on the back of that. But in terms of economic pessimism I would say the opposite. People are more optimistic in the US for two reasons. First, this year the biggest inflows globally into ETF Securities range of gold ETFs were due to the European sovereign debt crisis (Greece). A larger percentage of investors in Europe bought gold than in the US. From a sentiment perspective I would say that European investors were more negative. Second, in platinum and palladium or the more quasi-industrial metals used in industry, they are more highly correlated to growth generally. We’ve seen steady inflows into US palladium (PALL) and platinum ETFs (PPLT) but outflows on the European side of those same investments. So I see European investors as more negative.   US investors appear quite a bit more upbeat than European investors.

MM: What are you seeing in terms of silver and interest in silver?

ETF Securities: We see continued interest in silver and no redemption in SIVR (silver) for the last few months. Silver prices as we know have rallied significantly over the last few weeks. Now for the first time, people are starting to talk about silver in a positive light. Prices were languishing at $15-17/oz and gold had perpetually increased. The consensus among our investors seemed to be that one of two things would eventually happen with those dynamics – silver prices had to rise or gold prices would have to decrease. There are a lot of investors that generally perceive silver at $20/oz   to be undervalued relative to gold at $1350/oz.

MM: We’ve seen a big run up in other metals markets (besides precious metals) such as tin, even nickel to some degree. What are you seeing there and what are the prospects for a base metal ETF say in copper or aluminum?

ETF Securities: Tin and nickel are examples of metals that are not well understood by investors whereas headline metals such as copper and aluminum are better understood. People can invest in those and if they feel the economy is on track they might see copper as a more leveraged play on a global recovery.

In terms of a physically backed aluminum or copper ETF, ETFS offered no comment.

–Lisa Reisman

We are used to hearing divergent views on metal prices, but rarely can well respected sources differ as much as we are currently hearing in the silver market. Quoted in a Telegraph article, James Turk, who founded bullion dealer GoldMoney in 2001 and is said to manage $1.2 billion of assets, thinks prices could hit $50 by the end of next year. Mr. Turk believes quantitative easing will devalue currencies and send precious metals much higher. He uses the traditional gold-silver ratio to illustrate that silver is undervalued at current prices. Simply put, the gold-silver ratio is the number of ounces of silver it takes to buy one ounce of gold. With silver currently at about $22.10/ounce and gold at $1316.25, the ratio stands at 59.56. According to Mr. Turk, in 1970 it was 20, it peaked at just under 100 in 1970 and the average is about 40, but in February 2010 it was as high as 72 when gold was high and silver exceptionally low, now it is headed back to its long-term average.

So much for the bulls; what of the bears? Well, Suki Cooper, a precious metals analyst at Barclays Capital takes a much more measured tack. While not bearish, she has an average target for silver next year of $22.20, expecting the metal to peak in the second quarter at an average price of $23.70. Silver is still in surplus, but it has benefited from safe haven buying, she is quoted as saying, meaning it has benefited this year, but don’t expect it to continue unabated.

As an Economist article points out, silver not only offers opportunities for investors keen for a safe haven, but it also offers diversity as an industrial metal. Whereas investors buy around 25-30 percent of gold, only about a tenth of global silver production goes the same way. Roughly half the world’s silver goes to industrial uses, particularly electronics and in photovoltaic cells. Demand is likely to continue to increase as economic activity recovers, particularly in Asia as where so much of the world’s electronics originate. In addition, supply, while not tight, is at least constrained by the fact that 75 percent of the world’s supply of silver comes as a by-product of copper, lead and zinc mining. So ramping up production is dependent on the economics of those metals before silver.

Having said the above, investor interest in silver, the main driver of current price strength may be waning. Ms. Cooper states in the Telegraph that in the current year to date investment inflows into silver have amounted to 1,377 tons, compared to the nine-months to September 2009 when it was 2,942 tons. It could be fear of a slowing in global growth over the next 12 months will mean industrial demand for silver will flatten out and with it investor appetite, even with quantitative easing to keep investors jittery there are no shortage of gold opportunities around for those looking for a “safe haven. The silver market has been, and remains, in surplus.

Source: Bloomberg

As ETF securities advised in a recent presentation to investors, Mr. Turk’s gold-silver ratio has been to the north of the 50-year average (they use 50 against the Telegraph’s average 60) for much of the last 15 years. Maybe the normal level for silver is in fact closer to the current ratio of 60, and to hearken back to an average with prices in the 1970s and 80s is misleading.

We do not pretend to have a crystal ball on the silver market, but if we had to put our hard-earned cash on the future price direction, we would suggest a large measure of volatility around current levels sounds more likely than any dramatic extension of the current bull run. Silver is not gold, and mine supply and industrial demand still play a significant role in setting the price.

–Stuart Burns

Last week, tucked away in the Financial Reform bill that passed both Houses of Congress (and now awaits President Obama’s signature), there appears a key provision that will create a significant supply chain regulatory compliance challenge for any company sourcing materials that contain tin, tungsten, tantalum and yes, gold! In short, these OEM’s (think Apple, HP, Intel pretty much any company that manufactures electronics, etc.) will need to state whether they source “conflict minerals from both Congo and neighboring countries and “report on steps taken to exclude conflict sources from their supply chains, backed by independent audits, according to The Enough! Project. The Securities and Exchange Commission will serve as the regulatory body and they will have nine months to create the regulations to implement this provision of the bill.

Getting past the fact that the SEC serves as a rather strange federal oversight group for a purely supply chain function (think FDA for food compliance issues, FAA for the aviation industry, etc.), we can’t help but wonder if there is anyone in the SEC with any knowledge at all of global supply chain management! Hopefully, the manufacturing industry will take an active role in helping shape the final regulations (maybe we can send Andy Grove in to assist?) to ensure we don’t see another Sarbanes-Oxley overly complex regulatory nightmare!

In a previous article on the subject, we talked about how DC advocacy group The Enough! Project presented a clear case in their report geared towards exposing the use of conflict minerals from the Congo in American electronics. Their argument called for a long-term plan focused on supply chain transparency and gradually implementing audits and regulatory practices that would eventually expose exactly where conflict metals were entering the supply chain, so that companies could progressively find alternate sources. Another crucial part of their suggested solution also called for action within the Congo and abroad to relegate the corrupt political system that currently controls the minerals to distribute the profits in a constructive way.

In some ways, they’ve come across a great victory in their campaign. A letter was recently released from John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough! Project, that reads:

“Congress passed the Wall Street reform bill with the inclusion of a key provision on conflict minerals which will require companies to disclose whether they source conflict minerals from Congo or neighboring countries, and require companies to report on steps taken to exclude conflict sources from their supply chains, backed by independent audits.

We have to ask, though — is the Enough! Project claiming this a complete victory? While we fully support their mission, we support the version they present in their original report, the one that involves deep research into not only the supply chain, but also the Congolese governmental system and processes so that Congo can eventually function on their own as a viable economic power. Therefore this “victory to us seems a little hollow — more regulations for US businesses to comply with and really no solution aimed at policies to assist the Congolese, who need to rebuild their economic system literally from the ground up. But perhaps it is a start.

“We will be coming back to you with ideas of how you can continue to be involved in shaping the actions our government takes and the practices our electronics companies utilize in sourcing the minerals that power all of our electronics products. Peace in Congo is possible, Prendergast’s letter ends. We agree — calling attention to this issue is vitally important. But let’s hope the Enough! Project doesn’t stop here.

We’re catching fish for the Congo instead of teaching them to fish — and that could have far worse implications than even today’s horribly corrupt situation.

— Sheena Moore & Lisa Reisman

The iron ore industry never ceases to evolve. Whereas just last week we reported the [potential] death of the quarterly iron ore contract, major US iron ore producer Cliffs Natural Resources has made the plunge to diversify its iron ore holdings by investing in IOCG holdings in Latin America. IOCG refers to iron oxide, copper and gold. Okay you say, what’s the big deal? The big deal involves a new direction for the primarily iron ore mining firm by looking at “multi-product mines and using the by-product credits of the copper and gold to make the mining of iron oxide economical. In an interesting article in Resource Investor, the author suggests Cliffs has officially moved to the Starbucks model meaning the company will begin to leverage its expertise in mining iron ore to other products. (The analogy relates to Starbuck’s as primarily a coffee house but with a slew of other ancillary revenue streams on top of the core product think pastries, CD’s, mugs etc)

Cliffs has announced several interesting investments in recent days from the IOCG investments in both Mariana Resources and this one in Mexico with Riverside Resources to a majority position in Spider Resources. Spider Resources has several major diamond deposits but also has a significant chromite deposit with PGE (platinum group elements) as well as a VMS (volcanic massive sulphide) deposit thought to contain copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold as well was a range of by-products including tin, cadmium, antimony and bismuth.

These moves are bold steps for a mining company that essentially supplies iron ore pellets to the US integrated steel community (according to the Cliffs website, nearly 100% of current capacity is sold via long term contracts). The company also supplies some coking and metallurgical coal and has primarily supplied these materials since the founding of the company back in the 1840’s. Given the recent volatility in the global iron ore market along with supply constraints within various raw materials markets (e.g. chrome, antimony etc) we aren’t surprised Cliffs has decided to leverage its metallurgical expertise to expand its mining capabilities across products.

As with any “grow-the-wallet-strategy if you can call it that, the moves are not without risk. However, Cliffs Natural Resources probably more than many mining companies has deep expertise and the strategy could indeed prove to be a very interesting one.

–Lisa Reisman

For the vast majority of metals buyers, the analysis of chartists or technical analysts are so much black magic, unfathomable and therefore largely ignored. For many (although not all) professional investors though the technical analysts charts provide an important supplementary source of advice, for a few they are the sole basis of investment decisions. Empirical evidence as to the accuracy of chart predictions is difficult to come by. Wikipedia assuming you set store by its statements says that of 95 modern studies, 56 concluded that technical analysis had positive results. The technique has been around for hundreds of years, starting at least in 17th century Dutch trading markets, if not before. The basic premise is that investors collectively repeat the behavior of the investors that preceded them. As such price curves follow predictable shapes based on the sum total of many individual investor choices.

Whether technical analysis actually works however remains a matter of controversy. Warren Buffett famously said, “I realized technical analysis didn’t work when I turned the charts upside down and didn’t get a different answer” and “If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.”

OK flippancy aside while the ability of charts to predict the future can be debated, it does seems they can be good at identifying trends and a lot of investors over the years have made a lot of money by following the simple mantra a trend is your friend. In addition if enough decision makers follow chart trends and make similar decisions based on those charts the results will not surprisingly become self-fulfilling. So we thought a recent analysts summary published (with all the usual caveats) by Reuters was worthy of a review to see what the charts are suggesting for H2, 2010.

First, copper is heading towards US$4,818 per metric ton according to the analysis. Providing prices in the short term do not breach $6,885 on the upside (in which case the curve shape change and hence the prediction) the analysis is suggesting copper is on a bearish trend and is heading below $5,000 over the next six months.

Looking purely at the technical trends, aluminum is expected to fall to US$1,556 per metric ton over the next six months. The rally from last year’s low of $1,275 is viewed as nothing more than a rebound within a long term bearish trend and the metal could test this level again.

There are several wave theories. Some practioners of technical analysis hold to one or two, other hold to different theories, most consider nearly all of them and look for correlation between the different results. According to pattern theory and wave theory, gold is expected to peak at US$1,300 per ounce before starting a bearish downward trend. When gold breaks below $1,180 it is expected to establish a long term downward trend driving the price down to $680 over the next six months.

Last, oil is seen dropping below US$57 per barrel over the next six months with the possibility of a fall to $42 under certain circumstances.

Whether these predictions come to pass will be very interesting to see – we would be staggered if they did but never say never. Although in not quite six months time, MetalMiner will again write in late December to report on how accurate the technical analysis has proved to be. Let’s hope for anyone sitting on significant resting orders or long positions the chartists have got it wrong!

–Stuart Burns

The DC-based advocacy group Enough! Project is calling on consumers to raise awareness around the fact that their beloved electronics contain the “3Ts (tin, tungsten, and tantalum) as well as gold, all rare earth minerals that are illegally mined in the Congo, where profits go to “armed groups…that regularly commit conscious-shocking atrocities as they jockey to control the region’s most valuable mines. A worthy cause? Of course. One only has to watch videos such as this to realize how heartbreaking and dire the situation is. But the Enough! Project’s public face and actions are quite different from what their actual research report promotes, and our question is: what’s the real message here?

When I first read Nicholas Kristof’s article in the New York Times entitled “Death By Gadget, I have to admit that I was skeptical. While I in absolutely no way wish to diminish the horrendous situation in the Congo surrounding the mining and exportation of conflict minerals, I do feel that some members of our society have a tendency to jump onto a bandwagon or latch onto a cause for the sake of having an opinion rather than actually caring about or fully researching the issue in question. Taking this into consideration, look at this video [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEEDvgcXPyw,[/youtube]

where this side of Enough! Project is prevalent. Forgive the stereotype, but this video to me represents a bunch of “hippie-dippie kids who are working their first job out of college in DC and acting as conduits for a garbled message — largely blowing hot air to a crowd that vaguely listens, but isn’t dissuaded into boycotting Apple products, which is the apparently the call to action by the protesters. These kids seem to have no real knowledge or insight about the corporations on the other side, how deeply their supply chains would be affected by a flat-out boycott, and how exceedingly difficult it would be to re-source their entire metals base. In their favor, they do mention the fact that companies such as Apple and Intel do simply tell us, their consumers, that they trust the word of their suppliers in saying that these metals are conflict free, but provide no physical proof. And proof is what is being called for.

Curious for more information, I went to Enough!’s site to read up on what their actual mission is, found the report “A Comprehensive Approach to Congo’s Conflict Minerals and…it’s completely comprehensive. It provides a thorough and succinct history of the problem, including past efforts that have failed or are still (albeit weakly) in process. It emphasizes a necessary unity among “government, businessmen, and civil society, saying that we must “work together to forge the political will to legitimize Congo’s mineral wealth.

Specifically important, however, is that they do call out the difficulty that comes with mitigating this problem. The action they call for in terms of transparency in the supply chain is as follows: “The ability of end users to trace and audit the supply chains for the metal components in their electronics products is a critical step to channeling international demand away from armed groups toward legitimate sources, and they quip that “there is no silver bullet solution to Congo’s conflict minerals and “the reform of Congolese institutions is a long-term goal. Most importantly, the report says, “consumers and activists need to demand independently verifiable supply chain audits to ensure that products are indeed conflict free. This should not be a boycott of Congolese minerals, but rather more stringent requirements for purchasing of minerals so that consumers can be credibly assured that armed forces groups are not benefiting from illicit activity or the subjugation of local populations. And that seems fair.

So where does this leave us, the consumer? Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of a report like this is the number of offshoot methods of support it receives. From a spoof of the Mac/PC commercials [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ycih_jMObQ&feature=player_embedded[/youtube](surprise! They BOTH contain conflict minerals!)   to the more extreme “The Scary Truth About Your iPhone the issue is definitely making the rounds. Yet like a game of telephone, each new advocacy group that picks up on this reporting distorts the message more and more, until we’re left with a “cause that comes across as more trendy than valid. I suppose here at MetalMiner we believe that in terms of both conflict minerals and advocacy issues alike, to get the message right, and to really take a stand against a problem, you have to gather all of the facts trace it back to the source. The Enough! Project has the right idea and even provides a clear path to a good solution…now they just need the right advocates.

— Sheena Moore



Apple’s sleekly designed and well-made products have become more than a brand — these days, they’ve become a lifestyle. Politically, Apple leans toward the progressive, making public statements against Proposition 8 and promoting environmental stewardship. For the first time ever, Apple products are outselling those of Microsoft, and sparsely decorated Apple stores are constantly packed with consumers testing the latest wares. Apple computers have finally branched out of the “creative and into the mainstream. We run a Mac office here at MetalMiner, in fact.

Needless to say, the hype around the release of iPhone 4 was huge. So huge, in fact, that it crashed sole carrier AT&T’s website on the day pre-orders were allowed. Boasting a new stainless steel casing that doubles as an antenna, video capabilities that I’ve read rival the Flip camera, and a new Retina display that makes it probably the best-resolution smart phone on the market, what’s not to want? We here at MetalMiner even wrote a piece touting the   “Elegant Design: Steel-Bound iPhone 4

The phone is great on the outside — but what about when we dig into Apple’s supply chain to examine the insides? At a recent opening of a new Apple Store in DC, The Enough Project, a campaign of the Center for American Progress staged a protest, calling on Apple to “commit to providing conflict-free minerals in their products, according to this article. After all, take into consideration that “in every iPhone & and just about every other cell phone for that matter”comes four minerals essential to manufacturing process of many consumer electronics devices: tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.

In other words, some of these metals are abundant in places like Rwanda and the Congo, where the profits from the mining (to the tune of $180 million) “indirectly fund groups like the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, members of which committed the mass genocide in 1994. We wrote about a similar problem for Intel who also sources these minerals See Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here back in May.

The Enough Project “is calling for three concrete steps that electronics companies should take. Besides tracing their minerals from extraction to use, companies should also audit the mining and trade practices and ultimately certify that the minerals they use are conflict free. Implementing those steps would cost less than a penny per device sold, according to a spokesperson.

And the US Government has responded with “The Conflict Minerals Trade Act, a bill that “requires importers of potential conflict goods to certify whether or not their imports contain conflict minerals and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) will report to Congress and the public which companies are importing goods containing conflict minerals and “requires industry to use outside auditors to determine whether refiners are indeed conflict-free.

Excellent — problem identified, regulations created, problem mitigated! But is it that simple? A person in line for the Apple Store’s grand opening suggested simply that “[Apple] could get the same components, but in a different way. In considering problems such as these, one must really take into consideration the complexity of managing a global supply chain. When we truly break down the steps it takes to get raw materials from the mine and into your iPhone, the process becomes quite complicated. Therefore, if we fully ban the use of conflict metals, where can Apple find alternate sources of these “same components to keep up with our consumer demand for the Apple products we know and love? Answers may be forthcoming, but until then, I have to be somewhat cynical and say that the people camping on the sidewalk for their new iPhone 4 probably just want their iPhone 4, no matter what’s inside.

— Sheena Moore

The Sunday New York Times published a story covering a major US finding of minerals and metal reserves in Afghanistan. (We’ll take credit for reporting on these findings almost one year ago you can read that post here). MetalMiner has in fact published numerous stories about these mineral findings in Afghanistan including a piece highlighting the fact that US military personnel (via American tax-dollars) will help pay for security for Chinese mining companies to come into Afghanistan to help develop a large copper mine at Aynak, near Kabul.

The “new news about this story, if we can call it that, involves the release of information around other metals in addition to the known reserves of iron and copper. These metals include cobalt, gold and perhaps an enormous lithium deposit (said to be bigger than that of Bolivia’s, currently the largest source of lithium in the world today). The article even mentions niobium and other rare earths. The other “newsworthy aspect of the NY Times story involves the enthusiasm of key US military personnel including General David Petraeus who said, “There is stunning potential here¦There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.

Undoubtedly, we’d probably all agree that we’d like to see Afghanistan move its economy away from its primary source of revenue (opium traffic), stabilize its government and turn itself back to a country without the Taliban. But call me a cynic I think the enthusiasm for these findings is grossly overdone. If we (America) as a country won’t deal with Bolivia for its lithium, how in the world do we expect to help create the physical infrastructure (roads, rails, etc) the political infrastructure if a central structure is even possible in Afghanistan (e.g. security, a rule of law, quasi-non-corrupt leaders) and religious infrastructure (e.g. the removal of the Taliban) required to help Afghanistan transform its “drug resistant (pun intended) ways to take advantage of these finds?

We can’t and it’s simply wishful (I’d even argue stupid) thinking to think that we can. But the best part of the Times article is of course, tied to the environment. According to Paul Brinkley, undersecretary of defense and leader of the Pentagon team that discovered the deposits, “The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible? Mr. Brinkley said,  “No one knows how this will work.

Now there is a laugh if I ever heard one! I love hearing about the Ëœenvironmentally sustainable green mining argument’ when women are treated as half citizens, when 7-year old children are tried and hung as spies, and where GDP per capital equates to purchasing power parity of $800/year! We can’t even get junior mining operations up and running in the US where we have the ability to implement and run “sustainable mines.

Folks, is “green” somehow a priority here in the morass that is Afghanistan?

No, the only thing I’m sure about is that America will help others such as the Chinese exploit Afghanistan’s natural resources. The Russians walked from Afghanistan in 1989 and they knew about these deposits back then! What in the world makes us think that this mineral discovery will ever result in a transformation of this inter-tribal warfare plagued nation?

–Lisa Reisman

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