In Jim Cook's Archive


Almost twenty years ago, I got to know a geologist who was president of a small exploration company in Calgary, Alberta. I bought some shares in his company and had regular conversations with him. He owned a property in Nevada that once had a small silver mine on it. He thought there was a lot more silver to be discovered on the claim. I put up some money for the exploration work along with some other larger investors.

Once the drill rig was on site, I decided to go see it. I flew to Las Vegas and had a car take me to Tonopah, Nevada. I checked into the same motel he was in which was really a dump. He said it was the best one in town. I remember the silverfish bugs I had to wash down the drain each morning I showered.

The next day, we drove through the bleak Nevada landscape until we came to a small mountain. Then we drove up a rugged trail to the top. A drill rig and crew were busy at work. They were drilling down into the mountain and extracting core samples. These were shaped like a tube as big around as your wrist and placed in a core box. My geologist friend examined the core carefully. He said it looked really good. “Silver?” I asked. He nodded in the affirmative. He went on to select segments of the core samples to be sent to the lab in Vancouver. This would tell us how much silver we had. In a few weeks, we would get the results. I had visions of another Comstock Lode.

The next day, I caught the plane from Las Vegas back to Minneapolis. For a few weeks I was on pins and needles. Then the call came from my friend. He had the lab results. There was no silver. I’ve learned over the years that viable mineral discoveries are few and far between. As a general rule, you’re better off buying silver then trying to find it.

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