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Vancouver's Miranda Gold (TSX-V: MAD), which has acquired three properties in Colombia this year, sees further merger and acquisition activity among cash-strapped junior exploration firms through 2014 as financial markets remain "tight," CEO Ken Cunningham said.
Some companies have run out of cash and are unable to meet commitments after failing to make sizeable finds in countries like Colombia, Cunningham told BNamericas. Miranda has an US$8mn cash position after raising US$5mn at the end of 2012, he said.
"With contracting exploration budgets and many companies unable to raise more money, consolidation is going to continue," said Miranda, a 40-year veteran of the mining industry. "We're looking at distressed or bankrupt companies and evaluating assets. We see this as a time of opportunity."
Miranda, which is also exploring in Nevada's Cortez Trend, is waiting for the Colombian government to award an exploration license to move ahead with work at the Cerro Oro project together with Prism Resources (TSX-V: PRSH), Cunningham said. The joint venture will invest US$200,000 in initial drilling once they receive the license, he said.
Colombia, which lifted a two-year moratorium on new mining exploration permits in July and replaced its old mining agency with a new office as part of an overhaul of its mining code, has not issued new permits since, Cunningham said.
"The problem in Colombia has been land speculators tying up the land," he said. "The government has said they want mining, and it looks like they're trying to address the problem."
Earlier this year, Miranda acquired the 4,630ha Minagrande project in Colombia and applied to the national mining agency (ANM) for four exploration licenses in two prospective areas in Antioquia with funding from Agnico Eagle Mines (NYSE, TSX: AEM).