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Writer is critical of Montanore's ability, financial status to open the mine

by The Western News
| November 11, 2011 1:59 PM

Letter to the Editor,

With all of Montanore Minerals Corp.’s (MMC) pep rally style happy talk and hyperbole, it may be useful to step back and examine some actual facts regarding  MMC and the Montanore Project.

Fact one: MMC is not a mine-operating company. They have no history of operating mines, and they have no experience or expertise operating mines.

The most likely outcome for MMC’s involvement with the Montanore Project is that, assuming MMC is ultimately successful in obtaining the required permits for the Project, MMC will attempt to sell the mine to a mining company with mine operating expertise.

That buyer could be a foreign company. Given the demand for minerals in Asia, perhaps it would be an Asian concern. How would you feel about working for the Chinese or the Koreans?

Fact two: MMC is very thinly capitalized and is capital constrained. As of June 30, 2011, MMC had about $22 million on their balance sheet, and they are spending about $2 million per quarter (source: Mines Management Inc.’s June 30, 2011 Quarterly Report).

Absent some form of additional financing, MMC will be broke in about two years. The capital costs to bring the Montanore Project into production are estimated to be $752.8 million (source: ERO Resources Corp. report).

What is the probability that a small, financially weak company, with no prior mine-operating experience, will be able to obtain $752.8 million of financing?

Fact three: MMC is in the very early stages of evaluating the viability of the Montanore Project and has made no decision to actually invest in the Montanore Project (source: ERO Resources Corp. report). It is currently at what is referred to as the Preliminary Assessment stage.

There are three additional development stages (Pre-feasibility Study, Feasibility Study and Mine Development) that need to be completed before the final stage, Production. The reality is that the Production stage is years away.

Of course, the permitting process must first be completed. The Forest Service and the DEQ will issue a record of decision (ROD), which could be appealed. Following the appeal process, the ROD could be litigated. This will further add to the timeline for the Montanore Project, perhaps years.

The bottom line: Don’t count on anything happening soon. Take MMC’s assertions of imminent operations with a grain of salt.

—John A. Cleveland

Littleton, Colo.