What is a Geologist?

Last Sunday was the first Sunday in April, known as Geologists’ Day, and rightly celebrated around the world by millions of people. It was originally designated a holiday by the Soviet Union under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev, a notoriously jolly chap with unbelievably big eye brows. I hope, wherever you live, you tracked down your closest geologist, and gave them a big hug and a giant sloppy kiss. We deserve it because we add so much to your lives, if only you knew.

Brezhnev once said:
Да, я люблю геологов
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I Signed A Tortoise.

Actually I autographed more than one.

See, if you thrash around in the bush in the warmer parts of Turkey and Iran for long enough, you’ll eventually find wild tortoises. Shy creatures, they mind their own business -as you’d expect- crawling languidly around, looking like rocks with legs, although rocks move a bit faster going downhill. They can’t exactly run away quickly, so once you spot one, you’ll definitely catch it. I found them all the time, particularly in Iran.

They don’t much like people, but their only active defence mechanism, other than retreating in to their shell and making some unbelievably non-terrifying hissing sounds, is to wee all over anything that tries to pick them up. Which for a while was me, until I learned my lesson.

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Impressions of PDAC, Part 2

The presence or absence of PDAC crowds is something of a bell-weather for the state of our industry. It correlates, in part, to how much money we’ve collectively raised in the last 12 months, and also how the coming year of global mineral exploration activity is going to look. Attendance matches the global exploration financing figures quite closely, albeit with about a one year lag. Which doesn’t bode well for the business of discovery in 2019. PDAC compile convention attendance figures on their website, which I’ve graphed below for 2010 to 2019, alongside the global exploration financing stats from 2011 to 2017.

PDAC attendees, 2009 to 2019. Mass delusion in action.
Source: PDAC website.

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Best Not To Hang Around.

My Iranian sojourn in the mid-1990s has become a rich source of travel stories for me. I spent the best part of a year in the country, over about a 3-year period, travelling extensively in the north, based in the small farming hub of Takab in West Azerbaijan province, 5-6 hours drive northwest of Tehran. The people of Takab are Turkic and Kurdish. The Kurds are easy people to spot, dressing far more colourfully than the Turkic or Persian people. There is also a small minority of Zoroastrians, one of the oldest known religions, who worship at fire temples and sometimes still leave the bodies of their dead in high places for scavenging birds to eat.

A “volcano” close to the Unesco site, Takht-e-Soleyman.
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Hormonal kebabs

Tehran, dateline mid-1990s. I was ensconced in the not-totally-fabulous Esteghlal International Hotel, biding my time, waiting for a drill rig to be released from customs clearance which was taking weeks. Fact is, there wasn’t a great deal to do in Tehran if you don’t speak the language, and you’re not in to strolling around the polluted streets or drinking tea in one of the many tea houses. I’d been to the carpet bazaar a few times and bought some antique rugs. I’d seen the crown jewels (they make the British crown jewels look like baubles). I’d visited the Shah’s palaces and the incredible carpet museum. The only thing left was to get to know the amazing food and try to get drunk, which is possible in Tehran with the right contacts.

The Hotel Esteghlal. Not so great after 6 weeks.
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Impressions of PDAC Part 1

The PDAC is over and I’m back home after the emotional trauma of Vancouver airport’s domestic terminal taxi line up. At 9.30pm last night, we passengers – we accursed passengers- were met by a 45 minute wait for a taxi. Whoever was handling the dispatch radio must’ve sent everyone home at 9pm for a nice bowl of hot soup. The Commissionaires, running around marshalling the traffic in front of the terminal, kept up a bravely-busy face with lots of whistling and shouting at cars, but studiously ignored us. Nobody did anything for the 200+ passengers standing morosely in line, staring blankly at an empty taxi stand, praying for a future that includes Uber.

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.
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Mining Stock Picking Update

And they’re off. The end of the first month of the 2019 Black and Blue Hys and Lows Mining Stock Picking Challenge. Catchy name, eh? Happily, we’re already bucking the 2018 trend. So welcome to the Brave New World; an unfamiliar place where red has become green, and negative has suddenly become positive. It’s as if we’ve slipped through a tear in the fabric of space-time itself, and departed last year’s Shit-a-Verse aboard the Space Ship Uptick. Any time now we’ll land with a soft, pleasant plop into a parallel, sweet-marshmallow universe where stocks only go up, money is made, Toronto is warm at PDAC (nahh..) and everything’s fine with the industry. Quick, slap me. Wake me up, and pour me a big, hot mug of This Can’t Be Happening.

This makes it look like we know what we’re doing. Finally. For once.
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The Joy of Sex Books

In the 1990s I spent quite a bit of time in Iran, exploring for gold and copper. Fun times. It’s a beautiful country and we saw a lot of it, mainly in the Turkic north which stretches from the capital, Tehran, up to the borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey. We worked with a small team of Iranian geologists. One of the guys, a key member of the team who I’ll call Bob, was newly married. I’d met his wife in Tehran. A very pretty woman, she was quite religious, as was he, hence in true Islamic fashion, their hospitality to visitors such as me was overwhelming.

Something like this…
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I Met A Drug Smuggler

Western Pakistan is a fascinating place. It’s remote, arid, tribal, and these days a Taliban stronghold; not the friendliest of spots for westerners planning on coming home still attached to their heads. It was slightly safer when I was there in 1997, although it still had its moments (see My Project Went Boom).

The Chagai Hills.  Not sure I’d call them hills if I got to name them.
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The Joy of Birthdays

Today’s my birthday, and I hate birthdays. Ok, I really have to stop writing “I hate” in the first sentence of my blog pieces. Anyway, to quote George Carlin, so far, this is the oldest I’ve ever been.

Yeah, yeah, so what’s your point?

Famous dead people I share my birthday with include Ronald Reagan, Bob Marley, Eva Braun, Babe Ruth and Rick Astley. I’m exaggerating slightly. Technically Rick Astley’s still alive but his music is getting a bit stinky.

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