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The Wallace Street Journal

Taking it to the Shorts

October 30, 2012

By David Bond, Editor

Wallace, Idaho – Speaking of scams, wouldn't it be nice if just once, just once, the Securities and Exchange Commission bore down on one or two of the sleazy short traders in the silver and gold markets? No. It's only the longs who get to be the bad guys. When have you ever seen a short trader in handcuffs, being led off the Comex floor to the awaiting bubble-top? Right. Me neither.

Our current case study is Liberty Silver (LSL on the TSX). Liberty, which is commanded by some of the most credible people in the financial and mining sectors of Canada. What Liberty has is a vast acreage of low-grade, cheaply recoverable, silver on the ground near Lovelock, Nevada within a stone's toss of Coeur's legendary Rochester Mine. It has a name and its name is Trinity. In my dotage I don't need to go down a deep dark hole and be courted by some name-upon-request geologist to be directed to some vein he says bares such-and-such gold or silver. I'd rather look him in the eye in the daylight of the portal.

After a property visit this summer, we decided that Liberty was a no-brainer. Get a track-hoe, lay down a pad, and start making silver (and money). Then, while we were there, LSL acquired its neighbour, the Hi-Ho property, which will in essence double or triple the play.

This writer, along with Midas Letter's Jim West, liked the property and the proposition. (I was hired by David Morgan to go take a look at the place and write it up as best I saw it, whether a dog or a winner. Morgan does not instruct his writers to reach a foregone conclusion, and I would never write (nor have I ever written) for someone whose standards were different. Morgan said: go down there and tell me what you see. I did and I wrote about it on David's subscriber's website.)

I digress, but my angst about resource newsletter writers is boiling to the surface here: They are 92 percent of the time bullshite artists, and they have taken a long or short position in a mining proposition long before they tell you poor snivelling paid subscribers about it. There should be laws against most of what is written in this field. And maybe there are here in the U.S., which is why when the concerted short assault got launched against Liberty Silver, it came from an off-shore source.

Liberty's management is above reproach; the enthusiasm for Trinity's development at SRK's Reno office infectious. I find it incredible that guys like Geoff Browne, Bill Tafuri, John Barrington, Paul Haggis, Tom Hodgson, George Kent, John Pulos, or Timothy Unwin – all of them world-class stalwarts in their respective fields (please, please, do a Google search on any one of this lot!) would participate in a penny-stock scam. It just ain't gonna happen.

So: A world-class management and a silver hole in Nevada ground. What could be possibly wrong about this? Oh, wait. Bobby Genovese bought into the play. Who is Mr. Genovese? There is no doubt that Bobby G. can charm the socks off a centipede, but is that a fault? He likes the Liberty play and so do I. When we first spoke about Trinity he was right up-front. He holds a fair bit of LSL's free-trading shares. “I've put money into this project and I would like your opinion,” he said to me. There was no offer of shares. No gimmes.  In fact, I had to beat the travel costs to look at the mine ($900) out of him. Beginning. End. But somebody dropped a dime on Liberty with the U.S. SEC. Too much market cap considering the reportable  historical asset, because the bean-counters at Liberty wisely decided to understate the value of Trinity and LSL's now-concluded acquisition of next-door neighbour Hi-Ho. Well, damn! A company that understates its asset value? Now, there's a first.

The short run on Liberty was indeed short. Due to an unpardonable regulatory screw-up, the Toronto tarantulas halted trading in LSL shares fully a half-hour after the U.S. S.E.C. halted trading of LSL shares, which sent LSL into free-fall in Toronto, where it had opened at a buck-fifty and closed at 97 cents. Who's going to jail for that stunt? When the regulators staggered off their bar-stools a week later and reopened LSL shares for trading, the stock opened no-bid, then quickly recovered. Who's going to jail for that? Who will make the longs whole?

Well, you get into the silver game, you get used to being screwed by the technocracy. But somehow, us silver bulls keep coming back for more. We just wrapped up the Silver Summit last week. Shauna and I started that conference 10 years ago, when silver was $3.50. Anybody who has been hanging around since then is either rich or  bloody stupid.

There is an evil afoot here. I have seen it before. Short-sellers trashed Silvercorp and Seabridge, standing outside the fences and guessing what's going on inside. My neighbour, Bill Calhoun, is a director of Seabridge. Bill used to run Day Mines. You couldn't buy Calhoun's integrity with a shot of single-malt or a trillion-dollar pension. Even Hank Day, who didn't like anybody, liked Bill Calhoun. A vicious short launched an attack on Seabridge through a hack-writer at Barron's, using anonymous sources. Rudi Fronk told the Barron's idjit, Please hold off a week and you'll get the updated resource calculation proving up our gold properties in B.C. But the reporter, who wouldn't know a resource from a reserve, popped off any way. Anyone who bet long against him that week got rich.

(The same thing has just happened to Liberty. They were days away from producing a 43-101 report on their expanded property when the trade halt hit. They cannot ethically say what's going to be in that report, no matter how favourable, until SRK cuts loose with it. It's why we have National Instrument 43-101. Until your NI 43-101 lawyers cut you loose, you have to dummy up and let the shorts take pot shots at you. This is clearly the case with LSL.)

Silvercorp, which mines silver in China, got the same ham-fist from anonymous short sources a year ago. Some bozo claimed to have got into China, and seen from outside its fences the operations of the Henan-Found Mine and picked up a rock he said fell off a Silvercorp truck. According to his trained eye, the rock contained galena. Guess he missed the silver part. Now, I am just an English major, but lead and silver report to the same mill-circuit, hand-in-hand. And Silvercorp's Henan-Found mine has never claimed itself to be anything other than a world-class Sullivan deposit. I went underground there with Rui Feng on a bet he made with me at the third Silver Summit. I was the first round-eye ever to see the place. Henan-Found is a world-class Sullivan deposit and has been paying dividends for several years. It's a lead mine with a boat-load of silver. The shorts tried to kill Rui Feng's stock, even so.

I want to know who these sumbitches are, who would trash entrepreneurs like Seabridge, Silvercorp, Liberty and countless others. I want to know how they feel getting rich destroying the reputations of others.

Back to Liberty. Do I feel safe in Nevada? Yes. Do I think a huge and beneficiated silver deposit, even if low grade, can be mined profitably (c.f. Rochester)? Yes. Do I think Geoff Browne or Bill Tafuri, with their half-century reputations on the line, would lie to me? No. Do I think that SRK, with its reputation also on the line, would present to the public a project like Liberty's Trinity unless they thought they could kick over any ordinary rock on the property and find silver? Again, NO.

Take or leave Liberty. Take or leave the future of silver. Take or leave my word. But let's put the short snakes in jail with the same enthusiasm as we pursue the longs.

Oh, of course I owe you a disclaimer. I don't own a single share of LSL, much as I'd like to. Nor does my wife, any of my brothers, nor any of my nieces and nephews, or aunts and uncles I am aware of. I'd like to meet relatives of some of these short-hustlers, though. Preferably under a blanket, ball-bats in hand.