1 de agosto de 2008

John R. Morgan President, CEO & Director Infinito Gold

Infinite possibilities in Costa Rica


A small river called the Infinito runs through North Central Costa Rica and has become the namesake of a gold exploration & development company based in Calgary, Canada, formerly known as Vannessa Ventures. According to CEO John Morgan, the decision was made to change the name from Vannessa Ventures to Infinito Gold, Ltd. (TSX-V: IG), this spring, after the Company made significant strides in completing the major permitting for its flagship Crucitas gold project in Costa Rica.

Explained Morgan, “The holding company we have in Costa Rica is called Industrias Infinito, but nobody’s quite sure where the term Vannessa came from. So, as we moved from a gold exploration company to a company in a pre development, moving into the development stage; and the idea was to recognize that fact by moving on to a name that really meant something. Infinito means the same in Spanish: infinite, and it has a nice ring to it as well.”

From junior explorer to gold producer


Infinito Gold recently announced revised economic numbers that show a sharp increase in total gold to be produced (from 637,000 to 940,000 oz.) and NPV (more than triples to $127,613,000). Said Morgan, “building on that [success], we contracted Micon International to work on the feasibility study; to look at the economics of putting those resources into a mine plan, looking at them as reserves and seeing what the economics would be like to extract those resources.”

Infinito published a news release on July 17, broadcasting exciting results. “We used a gold price of $750.00 an ounce,” explained Morgan, “Micon estimates that our mining costs net of silver credits will be $342.50 an ounce, which is very competitive today.”


He attributed low mining costs to the fact that the strip ratio at Crucitas is extremely low. “Micon estimates that we will have .6 of a ton of waste to move for every ton of ore that goes to the mill. So our ratio is .6 to 1; less than 1 to 1. In addition, the gold recovery will be very high.”


Micon estimates that the Company’s pre tax and pre CAPEX cash flow from the project will be over $356 million USD, and cash flow after tax and CAPEX will be approaching $200 million. “So the project is very exciting, and it looks like it’s going to be economically viable,” said Morgan, noting that new capital costs and operating costs are being used, and they’ve reflected the increased cost of all commodities, including steel. “We believe in these costs and, in fact, we built in an over $6 million contingency in our CAPEX.”

Since June, the Crucitas mine and related infrastructure have been under construction. Morgan predicted that the mill will be operational by the end of 2009; and in the first full year of production, the mine may be producing over 100,000 ounces.


“It’s the function of the relatively low capital costs, and you have your slightly higher grades and slightly higher throughput in the early years of the project, which helps with your rates of return,” Morgan explained.

Morgan pointed out that in Infinito’s resource report, it had been estimated that the Company had 1.21 million ounces of inferred resources in addition to the 1.24 million ounces of indicated. “We are going to be doing a drilling program to try to transfer that resource – from inferred to indicated, and then into a mining reserve. And we are hopeful and expectant that the total resource base that will be available for mining will expand. Obviously, the feasibility study was just done using the indicated resources as a base, and that transfers into just about 1 million ounces of mineable reserves. But we are hopeful that definition and infill drilling will actually increase that substantially.”

Crucitas: The lay of the land


Located in an underdeveloped part of Costa Rica, close to the Nicaraguan border, local communities are supporting the project with the hopes that it will bring economic development. “We're improving the road, which has been a serious issue, especially during the wet season there,” said Morgan, noting that the mine will also provide power, internet and cable service, and, most importantly, over 200 jobs. “We have a commitment to hire locally to the extent that we can, and the people are very excited about this because the industries there are agriculture and the plantation forestry. So this is an area that needs economic development.”

Morgan noted, however, that Costa Rica itself is a stable, business-friendly country. “They have very strict and well-enforced environmental laws, with which we're totally compliant, and we think it’s a good place to do business,” said Morgan. “We have good relations with the relevant departments in mining and the environment and the local political infrastructure.”

The Republic of Costa Rica’s current president is Mr. Oscar Arias, who was president of the country back in the 1980s. “He was partially responsible for brokering the peace between the Sandinistas and the Contras in Nicaragua. And for that, he received a Nobel Peace Prize,” noted Morgan, adding that Costa Rica is part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. “It’s a very progressive and competent government.”

The mine may be many months away from completion, but some on-site drilling has already begun. “We are using a small portable drill,” said Morgan, “but the full infill drilling will commence once we have the local permit that is required to remove the tree cover that covers the two ore bodies: Botija and Fortuna, because this is not virgin tropical rain forest. It has been partially harvested, but it has re grown somewhat, so we have to cut trees to get in there to get the drill rigs into position, and that requires a local permit which we are currently working on.”

In good company


Infinito Gold has two dominant shareholders: Exploram Enterprises Ltd. and Auro Investments Ltd. “Exploram controls just over 50 percent of our common stock, “explained Morgan, adding, “Through a series of demand loans, they funded us through the pre development period of the mine, which has enabled us to build roads and make commitments to the construction of local buildings around the deposit.”

Infinito is currently negotiating with prospective financiers to secure capital to ensure completion of the $66 million mine. The Company will make announcements in the near future regarding finances.


A geologist trained at the University of British Columbia, Morgan joined Vannessa Ventures as its president in 2004. He spent the bulk of his 30-plus year career in mining with Manalta Coal Ltd., which was the largest coal mining company in Canada until it was taken over in the mid-‘90s. More recently, Morgan served for four years as Vice President Operations in charge of a large tonnage coal operation in Venezuela, known as the Paso Diablo mine.

Chairman and Director Steven Dean recently joined Infinito’s board of directors and is also associated with a company that is a significant shareholder as well, said Morgan. Dean formerly served as President of Teck Cominco Ltd., was the Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Australian gold group Normandy Mining Ltd. and is a director and Chairman of a number of public companies.

John Thomas, VP of Operations is based in Costa Rica. “He’s fluent in Spanish, having worked in Venezuela for many years, and he’s been on site for several months now,” said Morgan. “We have a good management team, well connected and well versed in how to operate and do business in Costa Rica. “

Costa Rica recently lifted the moratorium on open mining, which had no effect on Crucitas, but Morgan acknowledged that this will add value and interest to future projects in the area. “We're excited not only in the Crucitas project, but it’s a potential we have in the land surrounding it for incremental discovery.”

Email:  info@infinitogold.com Address: Suite 220, 1010 - 1st Street S.W.   Calgary, Alberta   Canada T2R 1K4 Telephone: (403) 444-5191 Fax:  (403) 444-5190     
Fuente: Gold Investment News.

18 de mayo de 2008

Carta pública a Óscar Arias Sánchez

por Sonia Torres Arguedas

Por la apertura de nuevos proyectos mineros demandamos antes explicaciones del colapso de la mina Bellavista.
Señor Òscar Arias, nos dirigimos a usted con todo el respeto que se merece pero plenamente indignados e indignadas, por cuanto no estamos de acuerdo que su gobierno siga promoviendo la minería de oro a cielo abierto, sin haber antes atendido adecuadamente la catástrofe ambiental, crisis social y pérdidas económicas producidas por el colapso de la mina Bellavista en Miramar.
Su gobierno nos debe explicaciones con esta apertura irresponsable, porque desde la década de los 80, iniciando en Macacona de Esparza, pasando por Beta Vargas de Chomes, Río Chiquito de Tilarán hasta llegar a Bellavista de Miramar en 2007, las minas de oro a cielo abierto han sido un rotundo fracaso en este país. Son ejemplos de impunidad, destrucción ambiental, perjuicio económico, engaño social y evidencian la incapacidad del control y fiscalización del Estado costarricense para ese tipo de proyectos.
La mina Bellavista colapsó y su gobierno sigue guardando silencio o actuando con timidez extrema. Han transcurridos nueve meses después del cierre, pero aún no tenemos un informe claro de las empresas ni de su gobierno sobre lo ocurrido en esa mina. Resulta ridículo, que a punto de iniciar la época de lluvias, la Secretaría Técnica Nacional Ambiental (SETENA), conceda tres meses de plazo para que las empresas mineras propongan el nombre de tres empresas internaciones de reconocido prestigio en el ámbito de los desarrollos mineros para que realicen una auditoría externa. ¿Qué va a hacer su gobierno en ese tiempo, mientras la mina sigue cayendo día a día? ¿Qué ha hecho su gobierno en este tiempo atrás?
Su gobierno parece no entender la magnitud del desastre ocurrido y que continúa ocurriendo en Bellavista. SETENA aún mantiene vigentes los permisos ambientales otorgados a esa mina, pese a haber demostrado su inviabilidad social, económica y ambiental; mientras, la Dirección de Geología y Minas, se las ingenia de mil maneras para mantener con vida los derechos mineros otorgados a principios de la segunda mitad del siglo XX, dictando resoluciones llenas de buenas intenciones, pero incapaces de implementar acciones para prevenir la salida clandestina del equipo y maquinaria en buen estado y hasta de la chatarra minera que sobrevivió al colapso.
Aunque el Ministerio de Salud canceló tímidamente los permisos sanitarios de la mina, el alcalde municipal de Montes de Oro, sigue vanagloriándose en forma ridícula de haber cerrado la mina, sin animarse a cancelar la patente comercial y sin advertir siquiera la salida clandestina de maquinaria, evadiendo controles y avanzando lentamente hacia la frontera de Peñas Blancas rumbo a Nicaragua o dirigiéndose para la destrucción prometida en Crucitas de San Carlos.
No es congruente, que el Estado costarricense que ayer apoyó el establecimiento de la mina Bellavista, guarde silencio ante el desastre ocurrido y que sigue ocurriendo. Exigimos explicaciones de lo que acontece en Bellavista, porque su gobierno sigue prometiendo la apertura de otros proyectos mineros en territorio nacional, quizá obligado por los compromisos con otros gobiernos del mundo.
No es posible que funcionarios del MINAE y otras dependencias, cargados de títulos académicos, sin haber podido atender, ni entender la crisis en Bellavista, sigan autorizando nuevos desastres mineros. No se debe permitir que se generen conflictos binacionales, mientras se destruye la flora, la fauna y el agua de la Región Huetar Norte debido al Proyecto Minero Crucitas. ¿Son estos los compromisos de paz con la naturaleza de su gobierno?
Los estudios de impacto ambiental se han convertido en meros trámites con propuestas que legitiman la entrega de las riquezas minerales nacionales a cualquier costo. De un plan de gestión ambiental, omiso y homologado a estudio de impacto ambiental, surgió el desastre de Bellavista; y ahora, se pretende, a partir de un anexo incorporado a la propuesta original del estudio de impacto ambiental del proyecto minero Crucitas, disimular modificaciones profundas cuando corresponden nuevos estudios y trámites diferentes.
La falta de recursos y capacidad del Estado no permite la apertura de minas de oro a cielo abierto. No existe control minero efectivo y la fiscalización es escasa y poco eficiente de principio a fin, con mayor riesgo durante la fase de operación, porque mientras, una mina opera los 365 días al año, los controles estatales se dan mensualmente, con funcionarios que laboran solo de lunes a viernes y de 7 de la mañana a 3 de la tarde.
Los planes de cierre ni siquiera están definidos en el Código de Minería vigente y se depende de Declaraciones Juradas que se convierten en simples compromisos de papel cuando algún suceso ocurre fuera de la llamada "normalidad minera". En esos momentos, resulta hasta imposible hacer efectivas las ridículas sumas por garantías ambientales y de cumplimiento.
¿Dónde están ahora el gobierno canadiense, los embajadores y representantes comerciales de ese país? ¿Por qué callan ante los desastres de mina Bellavista si siguen presionando en el marco del TLC Costa Rica/Canadá la aprobación de otras minas de oro en este país? ¿Cómo justifican, posterior al desastre minero, el cambio de nombre y nuevas directivas de la casa matriz en Canadá, así como el cierre de las sedes de las subsidiarias en Costa Rica?
Señor Presidente, lo invitamos a reflexionar y demostrarnos su inteligencia. Está en juego la autodeterminación de nuestros primeros habitantes a quienes se les continúa pisoteando con la entrega de la riqueza mineral y petróleo de los territorios indígenas. Está en juego Costa Rica, tierra firme de escasos 50 mil kilómetros cuadrados. Su gobierno no puede, por la vanidad del oro, negarnos los derechos a los residentes locales que reclamamos agua limpia, aire puro y tierra para labranza en momentos en que alarman la escasez y precio de los alimentos para consumo humano en el mundo entero.
Basta ya minería. Esto no es un juego; ya hemos demostrado al mundo ser incapaces de controlar, fiscalizar y hasta cerrar minas de oro a cielo abierto.
Sonia Torres Arguedas
Comité Ambiental Miramar / CEUS del Golfo
Red del Pacífico para la Defensa del Agua