The Prospector had a friendly chat this afternoon with Luquman Shaheen, CEO of Panoro Minerals, wherein he explained why Peru is so ripe for mining.
“Call me Luke,” says Shaheen. “It’s easier.”
Home to roughly 30 million people, Peru sits on the Pacific coast of South America, bordered on the north by Ecuador and on the east by Brazil. Its geography varies from the arid plains of the Pacific coast to the peaks of the Andes Mountains and the tropical forests of the Amazon Basin.
“It begins and ends with geology,” says Shaheen. “And ultimately, it’s the geology that makes Peru the world class mining destination that it is. The pro-mining government goes a long way towards making projects feasible, but it’s the geology where it all begins.”
And the geology is impressive. At just a hair under half a million square miles, Peru is split into three neat parts, 1) the coast: a narrow, arid plan with a few valleys created by seasonal rivers. 2) the sierra, or highlands: these are the Andes, a series of tall peaks similar to the Rocky Mountains, running parallel to the coast. 3) the Amazon rainforest: this wide expanse of jungle stretches to the east and contains about 60% of the country’s area.
“In many of the highland areas, and also in the east, there is very little economic activity that isn’t related to mining,” says Shaheen. “It’s really the lifeblood of the people.”
A fact which is seemingly not lost on the government. Beginning in the mid-90’s with President Alberto Fujimori, mining in Peru became recognized as an appropriate, and indeed perhaps one of the only methods for improving the people’s quality of life index.
A series of five consecutive pro-mining governments, including the current regime under President Ollanta Humalla, has attracted a wealth of big players in the mining field.
“Most major companies have at least some stake in Peru,” says Shaheen. “It’s too good not to be here.”
Shaheen says that the government’s stated goal of poverty reduction, “Absolutely requires foreign investment and economic development that can only come from mining, these facts are in evidence to the government.”
A student of history, Shaheen finds Peru’s past to be not only fascinating from a cultural standpoint, but indicative of where it’s headed.
“When you go back and look at history, you find that a major force in the progression and evolution of Peru comes from these Spanish aristocratic families. They’re where this long and deep history of private enterprise springs from, and that trend is echoed down the generations to today,” says Shaheen.
But governments have a way of changing rapidly in that part of the world, which can make for shaky investments (see Costa Rica for recent example).
“It’s not going to happen,” assures Shaheen. “Not in Peru. Going back to colonial history, you see this incredibly long and deeply ingrained history of private enterprise. I wouldn’t say I’ve got a unique perspective on Peru – I certainly have a knowledgeable perspective, having lived there for five years, from 1996 to 2001. But there are several Canadians who are down there, doing what we do, and the consensus is that Peru is simply an excellent destination for us to do mining.”
And the mining is really what we’re all about.
“Peru’s got it all, “says Shaheen. “Gold, silver, lead, zinc, tin. And it’s all ripe for development.”
Confidence is high at Panoro Minerals as it forges ahead on a second set of aggressive drill programs.
“We’ve got 4 rigs drilling, as we continue to grow and increase the size of our project. We just completed a $10 million drill program, totaling 24,000 meters at our flagship site, Cotabambas. We expect to have those results and release them to the public in the coming weeks.”
“And we’ve got a further $15 million dollars invested in a new 30,000 meter drill program that is currently underway. The thing to remember about Panoro is that not only do we have a star project (in Cotabambas) but that we have a large portfolio to follow that star project, all of it in Peru.”
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