The good-old and antiquated British ‘despatch box’ for transporting official papers has given way to the indigenous book of income and expense items called bahi khaata. This has been the traditional accounts-keeping register of small and medium businesses in our country. The bahi khaata has been raised to iconic status, with this year’s budget papers wrapped in maroon look-alike fabric, instead of the mundane briefcase and carried to Parliament for presentation. The ‘break’ with the past practice caught national attention instantly. No, there have been no raising of eyebrows, maybe just a trifle askew, but the exit of the budget briefcase of the earlier luminaries of Finance has many messages of content and intent. Also Read – A special kind of bondIntents, as they came, were truly impressive. We are marching towards the 5-trillion mark as an economy, with aspirations of the billion-plus countrymen already scripted by a divine hand. Sceptics and doubting Thomases can sulk or roll out their theses in Khan Market cafes, but nobody has any time for them. It has been proven that they and their mindsets are irrelevant. The less said about these hangers-on of past regimes, the better it is. For good measure and the sake of decency of public discourse, such a lot of dismal scientists can be classified as pessimists. They are asking how do we get to 5 trillion when we are only 2.7 trillion now! The nerve. No point calling them names! Also Read – Insider threat managementTo get to know about the content, one has to wade through a mass of annexures, if you are keen to uncover the mysterious offerings of the great document. The speech only offered the promise of a great future. There has been great applause for added tax on the super-rich. What do we mortals care, who are barely on the margins of the middle class? Serves the super-rich right, as they have been living off the land. Their companies are in losses, but they get richer and richer. It is the sleight of accountants, adept at the creative composition of financial figures. Nevertheless, arguments between the mighty critics and almighty government sources have not ceased. The former points to discordant figures, sums not adding up, revenue potential over-optimistic for the next year, particularly given the past year’s shortfall, etc. Defence counsels are equally emphatic about the figures being authentic and closing the door on further discussion. Nonetheless, it is not a great idea to take taxes to a level where tax avoidance will test the genius of our accountants, besides encouraging businesses and trusts in such a bracket to invest overseas. The national malady of our economy has been the lack of predictability of our tax regime. It changes every year. What is income today, changes every year and that is the prime reason the budget day is awaited with bated breath and is a bane for all financial management planning by industry and individuals alike. ‘Reform, perform, and transform’ is a spirited theme and smart oratory. Its push into reality is painfully slow and more often only cosmetic. The 1991 liberalisation launch did not penetrate into the genetic structure of our body politic. What was de-bureaucratised, was in reality re-bureaucratised. The accompanying technology solutions were slow and not universal. This situation continues to thwart the potential of our economy. The policy structure happens in the capital while the transformation has to happen in the states, hence the gap in fulfilment. Co-operative federalism as an idea has been constantly stonewalled by the nature of our political practitioners. There has to be a serious DNA alteration programme for ‘reform, perform and transform’ to be the reality we all aspire for. Our ‘bahi khata’ has been spoilt by our lack of respect for numbers. Traditionally, the ‘khaata’ is a faithful record of financial transactions. Our natural predisposition has been to use numbers for situational convenience. The Economic Survey, issued a day before the budget was presented, adopted figures of provisional actual receipts, while the budget went for estimated ones beyond the original estimates. The noise over the GDP numbers has been a continuing one, with more questions on its credibility, than credible answers. It is one thing to have an ideological divide over economic policies, but to vary the statistics as per the party in power, makes the integrity of our data a bit shady. It is then left to the purveyors of eco-political theories to build transient justifications. The good news is that our economy grows despite the government, most times and sometimes, in spite of the government. There is an inherent momentum, powered by the ‘can do’ necessity of living. Sure, there is scarcity of access to acquiring competent skills, access to finance is an obstacle race which involves a price for every barrier cleared and many more and regulatory clearances another dark tunnel, but as the aspiring hero in ‘Gully Boy’ says, “apan ka din bhi ayega”, our time will come and we will be a 5+ trillion economy. (The views expressed are strictly personal)
In the latest issue of International Mining Project News Northern Dynasty has confirmed that the Pebble gold-copper-molybdenum project, in southwest Alaska, is economically robust after receiving the results of a NI 43-101 compliant preliminary assessment (PA). The PA indicates that the mine could remain in production for up to 78 years to become “one of the most important producers of the 21st century” according to Wardrop.The open pit mine, located in Bristol Bay which is believed to contain the world’s richest salmon fishery, has come under heavy environmental fire in the past. However this positive report, with peak annual recoveries of 62 Mlb molybdenum, 1.1 Moz gold and 1,096 Mlb copper, confirms Pebble’s potential and the Pebble JV partners (including Anglo American, Rio Tinto and Mitsubishi) seem confident that the massive project will get a clean bill of health from the Environmental Protection Agency in its upcoming review of potential mining impacts on the Bristol Bay watershed.Pretium Resources has revealed significant resource increases at its adjacent Brucejack and Snowfield projects in northern British Columbia. Gold and silver resources at the combined project has increased by 64% and 33% respectively with Measured and Indicated resources now standing at 34.1 Moz gold and 191.9 Moz silver. Westgold Resources has lodged a Bidder’s statement outlining its goal to create a top 10 ASX listed gold producer within five years by combining the company with Aragon Resources. Amongst other things the combination would result in a 3+ Moz gold equivalent resource base and substantial development and exploration potential, including the “virgin” gold-copper discovery Rover 1 in the Northern Territory, where a feasibility study is currently underway, and historical mines in the central Murchison region of Western Australia which are being reopened by Aragon. Westgold sees three major underground mines at Rover 1, Big Bell and Great Fingall/Golden Crown providing the backbone to a 200,000 oz/y gold production profile for the combined entity within 5 years.After its incredible success at the Paulsens mine, in Western Australia, it is unsurprising that Northern Star Resources has agreed on an exclusive option with Sipa Resources to purchase the 668,000 oz Ashburton gold project which comprises 961 km2 of mining and exploration tenements stretching to within 5 km of the Paulsens gold mine. The company will focus on bringing Ashburton into production once the purchase is complete. Tanami Gold has yet again increased its gold resource at its Central Tanami project, located in Australia, with total (Measured, Indicated and Inferred) resources reaching 21.3 Mt at 3 g/t Au for 2.03 Moz gold.Over the past two years Tanami has regularly struck gold in its exploration activities to increase its resource by over 300% from the initial 0.5 Moz estimate. This latest increase has convinced the company to concentrate on completing a feasibility study on the CTP with an eye to restart production, using the project’s existing infrastructure and 1.2 Mt/y treatment plant, although with the granting of two more exploration licenses, and the strong potential of the Groundrush open pit, the company will hope to discover more resources in its 2011 drilling programs. Southern Cross Goldfields has also reported excellent results, from recent in-fill drilling at the Battler deposit, which will form part of a feasibility study designed to confirm and, the company hopes, extend Battler’s current, 504,000 t @ 2.3 g/t Au (Indicated and Inferred), JORC resource estimate. Battler is just one of seven deposits in Western Australia that Southern Cross plans to develop, as part of an initial 30,000 oz/y gold production strategy, so more drilling results can be expected soon.In the Northern Territory TNG Ltd has decided to follow up its recent scoping study on the Mount Peake iron-vanadium project with a second scoping study aimed at evaluating the possibilities of processing its vanadium pentoxide product into highly valuable ferro-vanadium. So far the company estimates that Mount Peake will operate for just under 24 years to produce 349,000 t V2O5, 27.18 Mt Fe and 6.46 Mt TiO2. After its $16.7 million raising Alcyone Resources has updated the market on development and exploration activities at its wholly owned Texas silver and polymetallic project in southeast Queensland. Despite freak Australian floods the company has managed to stay on track to achieve full scale silver production by Q3 2011, and has secured all the necessary supplies for a storm water dam at the Twin Hills project, where the company has already started mine construction.Brockman Resources has received the final environmental approvals for the development of its 17-20 Mt/y Marillana iron ore project in the Pilbara. Brockman can now look forward to completing its BFS on the 25 year project by Q3 2011 to generate LoM revenues of over A$60 billion at current iron ore prices. In northern Sweden Avalon Minerals is continuing intensive drilling programs, with over 15,000 m RC and diamond drilling being conducted across three open pit zones, at its wholly owned Viscaria copper-iron project. The initial results appear promising with drilling south of the ‘D Zone’ indicating far wider, higher grade, mineralisation than that previously encountered.All this and much, much more in International Mining’s Project News….To receive the full 50+ page report, subscriptions to this service can be registered and paid for on-line (SUBSCRIBE TO IM PROJECT NEWS BUTTON), or contact [email protected] for a free trial copy.