Zanex, Uri Geller and psychic geology in the Solomons


Visiting Honiara for the opening of Zanex’ Mavu gold mine Philip Rennie also met renowned mentalist and spoon bender Uri Geller who was doing some psychic prospecting in these potentially rich islands
If you had asked who I thought I might meet on a visit to the Solomon Islands to look at gold mining, Uri Geller’s name would not have been high on the list. What would the renowned Israeli born psychic powers demonstrator, famous for his spoon bending act, be doing in this sleepy little South Pacific country?
What I was there for was the official opening of the Mavu gold mine. Amazingly, though gold panning has long been a village industry, there has never been large scale commercial mining in the Solomons. Zanex’s mining licence is SML No 1.
Some other companies have been frustrated by the difficulties involved in getting agreements to explore and develop. Although the British system of minerals belonging to the Crown operates in the Solomons the reality is that a deal must be struck with landowners, this being no less important than dealing with the government.
How did Zanex, a little Melbourne based explorer, get through this maze? Largely by perseverance, spending a lot of time in the Solomons and bringing in the local people as partners. By comparison with the rigid rules under which big companies operate Zanex’s Peter Sterling and Peter Armitage were able to cut through the difficulties. Now that the way has been shown there should be further developments in the gold-rich Solomons.
The most spectacular potential lies in a prospect called Golden Ridge on Guadalcanal, the main island in the Solomons. Amoco is proceeding with exploration on what could eventually be a major hard rock open-cut mine.
The Zanex mine lies on a river course flowing from near Golden Ridge to the coast, the gold contained in the sand and gravels has been shed by rain action from Golden Ridge.
While the terrain is rugged the deposits seem readily mineable. In a country with roads and bridges that are inadequate for the transport of heavy equipment Zanex had to bring heavy loads up the coast from Honiara, the capital, by barge and then painfully drag them up hillsides. Roads had to be cut through the rich volcanic jungle.
But the alluvial plant is now on site and based on hoped for reserves, will not have to be moved to a new location for many months.
It is simple mining – more like earthmoving – with loaders, trucks and gravity separation. Gold is extracted from concentrate by the customary method of mixing mercury to stick to the gold and then retorting the mercury from the gold, leaving not pure gold but a rich concentrate that will be sold to refiners.
Eager to get into production Zanex has not done the extensive sampling programs that big conservative companies might undertake, but as further results come through the picture has improved. At the mine inspection there was optimism that the 0.7 grams grade indicated in early reports might be exceeded.
A definitive reserves tonnage has not yet been calculated, but indications are that the figure could be substantial.
The plant was running on a trial basis when I was there in November and already a few ounces of gold had been recovered. Objective now is to get the plant into 16 hours a day, 6 days a week operation. Next target will be 24 hours a day. Project manager is Elders Resources.
Having beaten the problems of agreement with the landowners and obtaining a mining license Zanex’s tasks with this mine are operational – to prove that high throughput and continuous operation – the stuff of big alluvial profits – can be achieved and sustained.
Under Zanex’s agreement with the local people it has a direct interest in the Mavu mine of 50%, plus 40% of the local company that holds the other 50%. In other words an effective 70%, with provision for some later diminution in this interest. Zanex has raised the funds and incurred the costs, though with some reimbursements to come out of earnings.
Zanex has another alluvial gold mining prospect at nearby Kavahambe where sampling is currently in progress. There is potential for substantial reserves to be established.
Further downstream there is a prospect called Mamasa which could also be the basis for an alluvial gold mining operation.
On another island in the Solomons group, Malaita, Zanex wants to explore for both gold and diamonds, there being literature on both in the geological records. Diamond indicator minerals have been found on Malaita.
Uri Geller, after flying over the island, supported the view that Malaita is prospective for both gold and diamonds.


What, you ask very reasonably, does Geller know about prospecting? The answer is, reportedly: enough to earn £Stg 50m in the last 5 years from royalties. He looks at maps and areas and advises companies where to drill, charging a royalty on resultant finds. No great detail is available, but he is said to have pointed the way to both oil and mineral discoveries.
Geller abandoned his stage career of spoon bending, clock stopping and starting, psychic drawing, etc. but has found a niche in commerce. It was the late, hardly lightweight Sir Val Duncan of RTZ who is credited with starting Geller on his prospecting career.
Obviously the psychic world is one about which people must make up their own minds and no opinion could be offered about Geller’s prospecting powers without detailed scientific examination.
But his spoon bending has certainly been subject to close scrutiny by many observers, this writer included. I invited him to demonstrate in the Solomons on a rather stout teaspoon which I supplied. I had earlier seen him work on another spoon, rubbing its stem which crumpled and actually fell off. Perhaps my spoon would be tougher.
Ever the showman, Uri said he was too tired, that the effort took a lot out of him. However, he relented and starting rubbing the stem lightly with one finger. He invited me to place my finger on his (which I did) and to feel the underneath for signs of acid or heat or any other hidden assistance. Though these were not laboratory conditions I have to say I believe that he bent the spoon alone. It started to curl upwards, but he again said he was tired and needed to get near some large metal object. “I have an affinity with metals.”
The spoon quickly curled up at about 90 degrees.
He then invited me to draw something simple on a piece of paper and he would try to duplicate it from an image received by looking into my eyes while I visualised what I had drawn.
He went away into the corner while I drew the sun the way a child would do – a circle with rays emanating like spokes. Before Uri came back I covered the drawing firmly.
“I’m tired,” he said, but started drawing. Soon he showed me a child’s sun with rays emanating like spokes.
Let’s hope for Zanex and the tribes on Malaita that his psychic geology is as good.


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