Take physic, pomp

More on Lowell Copper’s (JDL.v) Ricardo project (from IKN222)

This was out in the subscription Weekly last Sunday.

More Lowell Copper (JDL.v)
“Cowards die many times before
their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but
Julius Caesar, Act 2, Sc II, ll 32-37
On Thursday we again got a Q&A
from David Lowell on his new Lowell Copper (JDL.v) vehicle and the thoughts
behind the Ricardo property that the company has picked up, this time at
Mineweb (13). This whole issue was treated in some detail in IKN219 last month
(with some follow-up in IKN220) but apart from noting that it’s once again
interesting to see the interview-shy Lowell doing the promo thing with media,
it wasn’t a story that I had planned to cover any further for the time being.
Until a mail was received on Friday. The mail came from somebody who remains anonymous,
but it’s fair to say that he knows the property very well and due to that, he
could give a lot more background as to how the Ricardo concession came to be.
In the early 1990s the theory
behind the hunt for the “lost part of Chuqui” (see IKN219 and other places,
including that Thursday Q&A) was already almost certainly well known to
Lowell, because his partner on many of his academic papers, John Guilbert
(including that famous 1970 paper that defined porphyry deposits forever,
mainly thanks to a neat little sketch), was in close contact with people
working the area including one Richard Baker (who had been posted as an Adjunct
Professor at the University of Arizona at Guilbert’s behest). To lapse a little
into geol-speak, Baker had mapped the West Fissure (the key structure to the
Chuquicamata deposit.) for Anaconda in the 1960s and claimed to have recognized
that Chuqui was faulted, with the other half lying south of Calama by virtue of
the now (infamous) supposed “left-lateral slip”. The upshot to this theory is
the idea that Ricardo hosts the “the other half” of Chuqui. And in fact, the
name of the concession “Ricardo” comes from the name of the self-proclaimed
theory generator behind it, Richard Baker.
It also turns out that Baker was
not only a bit of a snake-in-the-grass, but a desperate one too who had recently shunned the bottle.
Although supposedly contracted by the University of Arizona and in charge of
Guilbert’s Chilean field program, he spent most of his time in Chile that year
doing virtually no work related to the university project, living large,
getting the Ricardo claim staked under his name, and then pitching the project
to anyone that was interested, all on university money, including big-name
companies such as Rio Tinto. In the end Rio Tinto didn’t bite, but it did give
Baker a consulting contract and royally pissed off John Guilbert since Baker
had done precious little work for the university while on its payroll, then
quit. What happened then is that the VP Exploration for Codelco took out an
option on Ricardo, but the story goes that Codelco was just as keen to stop
other people exploring Ricardo and finding something in their own back yard.
From that point, we already know from the list in IKN219 about the exploration
and drilling programs that have gone on at Ricardo and have yielded very little
by way of results. We need to note as well that although not disproven, there
has never been general agreement about the “left-lateral slip” theory among
those structural geologists that have studied the problem and that drilling up
to now hasn’t done much to help its cause. As for Richard Baker, namesake
behind the Ricardo project and the founder of a theory that has managed to
entice enough large companies and smart geological teams into looking at the
property without finding anything of worth, he was found dead in his room at
the Park Hotel in Calama sometime later in the 1990’s. He left his recently
married wife with a hefty credit-card debt to clear up, too.
Meanwhile, since trading started in
JDL.v the stock has been pushed up to 90c and the low volumes traded make it
clear that it’s tough to get any sort of position, with small players wanting a
piece having to pay up. The result is that JDL.v now runs a market cap of
$62.16m and that’s a lot considering our previous calculation on the value
here, now updated:
  • Market Cap: $62.16m (69.57m S/O)
  • Working Cap: ~$11m
  • Goodwill (i.e. hope, or “Lowell’s Brain” to
    be generous with the wording): $51m.
So yes, if the quasi-legendary
“other bit” of Chuqui is found there’s an awful lot of percentage upside to
today’s share price. But if it’s not, there’s a helluva lot of percentage
downside in play, too. However, you’re less likely to hear about that from the
Vancouver promo crew.

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