I just returned from the Mojave Desert. It’s the driest spot in North America, a forbidding yet beautiful place. But you know what it has a lot of? Gold.
In fact, you might say there’s a new gold wave starting there.
During my trip, I visited an interesting gold developer. The project is a beehive of activity as the company races toward production.
The fascinating thing about this project is it’s not hard to find gold ore. Not at all. It outcrops right at the surface. The project is nestled in the belly of an ancient, highly mineralized volcanic caldera.
In fact, Arizona has a rich mining history. You can’t drive around without tripping over the ghosts of prospectors past: Gold Rush Road, Silver Bell Mine, Silver Creek, Golden Valley — you get the idea.
In fact, the nearest town to this project contains 53,983 mines!
Most of them aren’t working mines, of course. Most of them are death traps. Lures for every wild kid and adrenaline-fueled spelunker. Ancient holes that will collapse on the unlucky and unwary.
These holes are old “adits.” That comes from the Latin aditus, or “entrance.” Adits are used to explore for mineral veins.
Do you want to go exploring in those holes? I sure don’t. But that’s what the old-timers did — chasing visible high-grade gold and silver.
As we often see in gold, the mining comes in waves. The last wave of gold mining in the Mojave ended with a bang — a bang we call World War II. Gold mining was deemed unnecessary for the war effort. The miners were shipped off to fight.
But things change. Now, there’s a heck of a wave just starting to roll up in Arizona and Nevada.
I’m ready to surf that wave. You should be, too.
My trip to this project started with a flight to Las Vegas. That’s because the project is in such a remote corner of Arizona, Las Vegas is the nearest airport of any size.
I piled into a car with another analyst and the CEO of the company.
We had a lot of desert to cross. So, it’s a good thing the CEO drives like the devil is on his tail. We quickly left McCarran International Airport in the rearview mirror and zoomed from the city out to rough country.
Once you get out into real desert, it becomes a moonscape. It’s like driving on an alien planet. Meanwhile, the CEO is a former hockey player, so he regaled us with stories about Wayne Gretzky.
Now who doesn’t love Gretsky? Only the best hockey player who ever lived. And an interesting person to ponder as the desert landscape whipped past the windows at ludicrously high speeds.
The CEO told us what he learned from his old teammate Gretzky: “Never set limits on yourself.”
The CEO took this to heart as he made his transition to businessman. And that’s how he and his team have built a mine faster than might seem possible in the heart of the Mojave.
They aren’t skipping any steps, either. They even did a test-run to make sure they’d get the right recoveries. Importantly, every fund-raising they’ve done — it takes a lot of money to build a mine — is done at higher and higher prices. Investors can see the good news on this project.
Our trip was enlightening. It was also on a day that was as hot as Hades. So after we wrapped things up, we took a quick trip to a nearby “ghost” town.
This area has been a center of gold-mining activity since the 1800s. The miners of yore used burros. When the gold boom ended, they released the animals into the desert. The burros thrived, and now wander the streets of the town, looking for handouts.
In the old days, miners liked to go drinking after a hard day’s work. But the conditions in the mine would turn the money in their pockets to pulp. So, on the way to the adit, the miners would write their names on dollar bills and tack them on the wall of a nearby saloon.
It’s a tradition that continues today. I’ve posted a video showing what the “wallpaper” inside one of these saloons can look like. You can find it here: https://youtu.be/wV5V0fYrVe4
You know who put his dollar up on the wall of this saloon? Ronald Reagan.
You can see his scribbled name on his bill right in the middle of this photo.
I guess that goes to show that there’s a little gold miner in all of us.
As I said, the next wave of gold mining is just starting to build in the desert. There are some extraordinary opportunities before us, in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and across the West.
That’s good mining country, and there has never been a better time for it. As an ol’ time prospector might tell you, it’s time to “get a wiggle on” and get busy.
All the best,