"The history of Eureka lies in its future." - Lambert Molinelli, 1878


The author/editor of the Eureka Miner owns common shares of local mining stocks, General Moly (GMO) and Newmont Mining (NEM); together with benchmark miner Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). Please do your own research, markets can turn on you faster than a feral cat.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Part VII, Cooper's Peak, Jackass Mail & Olive Oil)

In the foothills of Mt. Hope, Eureka, Nevada


General Moly Announces Preliminary Injunction Motion Denied, Without Prejudice, Related to Mt. Hope Record of Decision Appeal (8/26/2013)
General Moly Announces Second Quarter 2013 Results (8/2/2013)
General Moly Announces Results of Annual Meeting (6/14/2013)
Mt. Hope construction continues despite financial issues (by Marianne Kobak McKown, Elko Daily Free Press, 5/31/2013)
General Moly Provides Finance Update (5/15/2013)

A very detailed General Moly briefing for investors on the status of the Mt. Hope molybdenum project:

General Moly Investor Presentation

See earlier March 22 and March 29 reports for a full chronology of the $665 million Hanlong loan suspension.

Latest Nevada Gas Prices (click this link)

My latest Kitco commentary:  A Bear Case For Lower Gold Price (With A Happy Ending) (09/03/2013)
Paintings by Mariana Titus, The Three Anas & The Three Moon Anas, are presently at Lafitte Guest House & Gallery, New Orleans

Friday's morning's prices...
COMEX Gold price = $1,386.4/oz (December contract most active)
COMEX Silver = $23.910/oz (December)
COMEX Copper = $3.2620/lb (
NYMEX WTI crude = $109.43/bbl (
ICE Brent crude = $115.56/bbl (
Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index© (GVI) = 84.70 (gold value is trading at a discount to oil and and a slight premium to copper)
Value Adjusted Gold Price© (VAGP) = $1,367.6/oz
COMEX - VAGP = $18.8/oz; gold is trading at a slightly rising net premium to key commodities.

General Moly (GMO) = $1.68 up 5.66%
Barrick Gold (ABX) = $19.08 up 0.89%
Newmont Mining (NEM) = $30.54 up 0.79%

Morning Miners!

The morning started off with a softer-than-expected monthly jobs report with only 169,000 nonfarm payrolls added (175,000 expected) and a drop in the unemployment rate to 7.3% from 7.4%. The drop was partially attributed to a decrease in the so-called "participation rate" and there were downward revisions to previous months. Not too many cheers from the bleachers - Nuts!

Please checkout my input to the weekly Kitco News Gold Survey (below) and most recent Kitco News commentary for my latest thoughts on gold,  A Bear Case For Lower Gold Price (With A Happy Ending) .

I am really excited about today's series on Mt. Hope because the ole Colonel found a rare gem and a fool-proof plan to win two free beers at the Owl Club!

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Cooper's Peak, Jackass Mail & Olive Oil) 

A multi-part series that circumnavigates the Mt. Hope molybdenum mine site on Eureka County back roads and highways.  Starting with the creation of molybdenum in the early universe, this journey will cover the geology of the area as well as its colorful history. There will be two trips, Loop#1 and #2, which include ranches of early settlers, a portion of the Pony Express Trail, a challenging section of the old Eureka-Palisade Railroad and a mine site tour. If you'd like to visit Mt. Hope, please make arrangements beforehand with Zach Spencer, General Moly's Director of Media Relations. Like any mine site, there are both security and safety concerns at Mt. Hope, but Zach and the Mt. Hope team do everything possible to accommodate public interest in their project. You can contact Zach by e-mail: zspencer@generalmoly.com

The Foothills of Mt. Hope

We're going to take a break from our geology tour this episode and glimpse at some of the rich history near the base of Mt.Hope.

The Fire Pit (Mile 20.0)

Slow down as you approach the foothills near the 20 mile mark. Now, pull into the clearing by the large tree and let's do some exploring.

On a maiden trip down Henderson Road (M-108A), Mariana and I were drawn to this spot and soon discovered a large fire pit just south of the tree.

A few hundred feet to the east is the confluence of two natural runoffs from Mt. Hope. Although both were dry in June, one could imagine ample flow in early spring. The greenness and abundance of vegetation suggests an oasis of sorts - a beautiful place to camp!

A good friend of mine once told me if you like a location in Nevada's back country it probably also appealed to old timers as well as indigenous people many moons ago. Fire pits are a particularly important clue. Even though the pit may have expanded in diameter and the rocks rearranged and added to over the years, a fire pit in a remote area may have been in the same location for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Used over and over again by different peoples for different reasons, a fire pit near a water source in a protected area with lots of game bouncing down the foothills at sunset is about as good as it gets for either today's 4-wheeled adventurers or ancient travelers on foot.

Is that a point to the left of the flower by the triangular rock? I first saw that potential artifact in Adobe Photoshop zoom-mode after returning home!

Simply beautiful. Oh...and there's a monitoring well for the Mt. Hope mine project - apparently everyone is drawn to this spot!

A Rare Gem

Due to its rich history, General Moly hired Kautz Environmental Consultants to perform field mitigation activities for 32 cultural sites near the initial mine construction site on the southeast face of Mt. Hope. Their activities, closely coordinated with the Bureau of Land Management and the State Historical Preservation Office, are presently complete for the year.

I believe our fire pit on the west side of the mountain is outside their area of investigation but no doubt typical of what would perk the interest of the Kautz archaeological team. A little digging around on the internet uncovered a rare gem that catalogs a similar study done years ago by Exxon when they had a similar interest in the molybdenum deposits of Mt. Hope.

I suspect this may have provided a starting point for the Kautz folks and is a remarkably interesting catalog that touches just about every aspect of Eureka County history from thousands of years ago to Captain Simpson's survey, the Pony Express days, early mining activities and the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. Mining and the railroad brought the Italians (Carbonari) and Chinese to the base of Mt. Hope and their colorful history is explored in detail. I encourage followers of this report to check it out, here's the link:

Archaeological Data Recovery Associated with the Mt. Hope Project (1985)

I just started reading this report last night and it will provide a valuable source for future articles. Let's close with a few tidbits you can share at the Owl Club over lunchtime or a Friday night beer.

Pre-Archaic, Archaic and Numic People

There is one small pre-Archaic site that lies roughly to the east-south-east of our location. Please make no attempt to find this or other archaeological sites out of respect for the ancient people that once came to this area. Many sites are also within the security perimeter of the present General Moly mine project.

The Pre-Archaic period (9,000 B.C. to 6,000 B.C.) represents the earliest well documented evidence of man's presence in North America. Most Great Basin pre-Archaic sites are located along valley margins similar to Mt. Hope and include fluted projectile points and edge-ground stemmed points.

The report also discusses more numerous evidence from the Archaic (6,000 B.C. to 1300 A.D.) and Numic (A.D. 1300 to 1850) periods. According to the report, "Occupations dating to the Numic period represent the prehistoric forebearers of the modern Shoshoni. The period begins around A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1300, when Numic-speaking Shoshoni, Southern Paiute, and Northern Paiute migrated into the Great Basin from an area near Death Valley." and "The Numic period is marked by several diagnostic artifacts, including Shoshonean brownware pottery and Desert Side-notched and Cottonwood Triangular projectile points."

Amazing, and there is a lot more on this subject.

Cooper's Peak & Jackass Mail

Here's a trick question, the correct answer is worth at least a free beer, "Where's Cooper Peak in Eureka County?"

The answer is, "Mt. Hope."

According to the Exxon report, when Captain James H. Simpson came to this area in 1859 seeking a feasible road route between Salt Lake city, Utah, and Genoa, Nevada, he named Mt. Hope "Cooper's Peak." We first met the good Captain in Part V of this series.

Now a double-trick question, "What was the first four-legged mail service in Eureka County?"

The answer is not the obvious, "Pony Express" - not even close!

Our trusty report informs us, "The first mail service through Nevada was Woodward and Chorpenning's 'Jackass Mail' which began operating in 1851. In 1858, Chorpenning used a new route which ran through the northern end of Diamond Valley and into Pine Valley before rejoining the Humboldt route near Beowawe. Later, Chorpenning moved his line, following Simpson's 1859 route which passed through the project area [i.e. near southeast face of Mt. Hope]. This change required the construction of stage stations, at approximately 13 mile intervals, along the route west of Jacob's Well in White Pine County. He was able to complete only some of the stations before the mail contract was taken over by the Pony Express, which used not only the central route but also Chorpenning's stations."

Ardoino & Bonavera Olive Oil

Our last tidbit pays homage to the proud Italian and Italian-Swiss heritage of Eureka. Immigrants form the alpine areas of Italy and Switzerland were expert at producing charcoal for Eureka's mine smelters and to fuel the Eureka & Palisade Railroad. They were called the Carbonari and the Exxon archaeologists found this extraordinarily intact half-gallon can of Ardonio & Bonavera olive oil at one of their many camps (the Colonel loves these old school drawings of artifacts):

Mt. Hope has  50 identified charcoal production sites that processed the then abundant pinyon-juniper. Charcoal production was halted in 1887 when the clear cutting of the pinyon-juniper woodlands was stopped by the U. S. Department of the Interior. In 1890 a change to coal was made for the Eureka & Palisade choo-choo.

The pinyon-juniper has since returned. I got my allocation of senior firewood from Mt. Hope compliments of Generla Moly - thanks!

This quick review just scratches the surface of this wonderful report - happy reading!

Molybdenum Prices

Spot moly oxide prices have stabilized above the $9 per pound-level and are creeping higher. Here are the latest numbers compliments of moly benchmark miner  Thompson Creek (TC):

Metals Week Weekly Average: US$9.487 as of September 2, 2013 (updated weekly)

Ryan's Notes Average: US$9.625 as of September, 2013 (updated twice weekly)

The London Metal Exchange (LME) futures contracts are above spot prices on the 3-month contract and slightly above $10 per pound on the longer contract. Remember that this is a thinly traded futures market and contract prices may reflect developments in Europe more than the global spot price averages above.

3-month seller's contract $21,500 per metric ton ($9.752 per pound)

15-month seller's contract $22,250 per metric ton ($10.093 per pound)

The Colonel's Gold, Silver & Copper Prices for Next Week

Here is my weekly input to the weekly Kitco Gold Survey:

09/06/2013 (10:44 AM CT)

Q. Where do you see gold’s price headed next week, up, down or unchanged?

A. Up. My target price is $1,396 per ounce.

Q. Why?

A. Gold has traded flat for the week after failing to reach August’s high this Tuesday. Any U.S. action in Syria has been delayed but the yellow metal should get a boost next week if the U.S. Congress supports a strike. Given the President’s remarks in St. Petersburg today, an attack may wait until the following week. Gold’s pre-strike advance is expected to fall short of $1,400 per ounce, hence my target of $1,396 (the geometric mean of August’s high and September’s low).

Price volatility will continue with “taper talk” and debate whether today’s disappointing jobs report will have any effect on timing and magnitude. Whatever the outcome, QE3 is likely to continue for some months to come which will slowly erode gold’s value to key commodities as explained in my latest commentary, A Bear Case for Lower Gold Price (With A Happy Ending).

Once the headlines clear, the yellow metal will eventually trade at a discount to a basket of commodities that include oil, copper and silver; this should limit future advances and may presage a return to much lower prices later this year. Based on prior quantitative easing cycles, this trend must reverse, “before a serious recovery in gold price is possible – typically, after or near the end of each QE program.”

For $1,396 per ounce gold we can expect to see silver in a statistically bounded range* of $21.3-$25.2 per ounce; and copper in a range of $3.18-$3.55 per pound. Silver is expected to have a positive bias with respect to a range mean of $23.248 per ounce; copper, a negative bias with respect to a mean of $3.3639 per pound.

 (* +/- 2-standard deviations, 1-month basis)

The S&P 500 has traded up on the week but lost some ground to gold. The relation between the two is illustrated by a plot of the gold-to-S&P 500 ratio, or AUSP:

The ratio has been in a descending channel since mid-November with rotation of money away from gold assets into the U.S. stock market with gold losing 34% of value relative to equities from the November peak (AUSP=1.2710). Bullishly, gold breached the channel to the upside but the advance stalled this week.

Comex gold is trading flat after failing to reach August’s high Tuesday ($1,416.4 versus $1,434.9). The yellow metal lost value relative to oil and copper; oil gained on copper just slightly. The chart below is a week-over-week valuation matrix. The first row is the current commodity price in the given currency. For all other rows, read “1 unit of row A buys X units of column B”; for example, “1 ounce of gold buys 423.3 pounds of copper.” Percentages are deltas over one week.

Since last November, gold has experienced bearish value destruction not only in U.S. dollar terms but value relative to oil and copper. The yellow metal has recently recovered value relative to the red metal.

As measured by the Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index (GVI, Ref 1), the value of gold relative to global commodities copper and oil and companion metal silver is 84.56, below the key-100 level and the 1-month moving average of 85.14. The 2012 high was 103.73 on Nov. 13. 


Colonel Possum

Photos by Mariana Titus

Please checkout bayoutales.com for books and book orders

Paintings by Mariana Titus, The Three Anas, are presently at Lafitte Guest House & Gallery, New Orleans

Write Colonel Possum at colonelpossum@gmail.com for answers to your questions or to request e-mail updates on the market

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