You have a hunch there’s something in the ground.
You stake that land.
You do a few surveys, check there’s something there and then drill to make sure.
If there is something there, you’re sorted. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
If only exploration was as simple as that.
And as quick.
Sadly, it’s not. Yet I think a lot of the stress and strain of being an investor (and in running an exploration company) is that we still, to some extent, think it should be as simple as that.
The truth is it takes time.
It can take a lot of time.
Take what we’re doing with Kavango.
Ever since our founders Mile Moles and Hilary Gumbo first had a hunch there was something in the ground at the KSZ in Botswana, it’s taken a long time to get to where we are today.
I know that some investors, especially those who’ve been on board from the early days, will wish we’d have got to where we are today faster, but when you take a step back and consider the sheer amount of work involved, you realise why exploration takes as long as it does.
Frankly, I’ve had to learn this myself the hard way. Living through the whole process and all the ups and downs that go along with it.
I remember when we started carrying out surveys of the KSZ (the Kalahari Sutra Zone), and we started to see some very promising formations.
I think even then, a little part of me thought (despite my better knowledge) that once we drilled, we’d be away.
But you soon realise that even surveys can be time consuming in themselves (especially when you’re using new technology and pushing the boundaries as we’ve been doing here at Kavango), you realise exploration is a patience game.
Still, once surveys are done, you’re eager to drill.
Yet, once again, there’s a misconception that the drilling will give you a clear “yes or no” answer.
But it doesn’t work like that.
By this point, the data is really starting to pile up. Things are getting complicated. There are options, choices to be made. One choice might lead you down one path, a different choice another.
All the time there’s the financials to consider, which choice you make will influence the capital you’re spending.
But you consider the data, you make a call, you drill and move to the next stage.
The next stage?
Indeed, the “yes or no” answer (that I wish there was), is just an illusion.
Drilling is one thing but testing the drill cores, figuring out what they’re telling you: that’s a whole other ball game.
Again, look at what we’ve been doing at the KSZ...
One of the key metals we’re looking for is nickel. But because of the slump in nickel a few years back, a lot of people left the market, a lot of the experts moved on, making it difficult to find them.
On top of that, when the world changed again and demand for nickel started rising as it has recently, so has demand for expertise in the area.
The upshot? Even finding the right people to test your drill results takes time.
Thankfully, we found the perfect guy in Richard Hornsey, a leading authority on the nickel sulphides, to come in an put together a proof-of-concept report for us.
But consider that report is over 300 pages alone.
It’s far from the “yes or no” answer we imagine drilling would offer.
At this stage, as CEO, and as an investor, it can feel like the whole process is against you: overloading you with data and slowing things down to a standstill.
But there is good news.
In taking the time to move through each stage in the true time that it takes, in moving from hunch, to surveying the ground, to building up a picture beneath the soil, to drilling, to testing those drill results thoroughly and properly...
It all builds up to give you a package—an opportunity—you can be truly confident in.
More than that...
By taking the time, by compiling a truly comprehensive picture of a place like the KSZ, you begin to massively reduce financial risk.
You’re now able to have confidence in the whole “system” below ground.
Because it means that even if a future drill campaign misses the mark for whatever reason, you know it’s not a fundamental problem. You know—because you’ve got confidence in the whole system—you can go again, pursue another area in the system where you’re likely to have better results.
In a hit and hope scenario, if you had not put in the time to do all the work, if you had rushed things, that wouldn’t be an option.
Once again, just take what we’re doing at the KSZ...
Without doubt, it’s taken longer than I would have hoped to get where we are now, but my word, I’m so pleased we’ve taken our time and done things properly.
Thanks to the work we’ve done, the surveys we’ve done, the drilling we’ve carried out so far, the data we’ve acquired, the reports we’ve had compiled, we are in a stronger position than we’ve ever been.
We can seek out new partners with real confidence, we can show that we’re serious about what we can do, and we can be confident, truly confident, in the prospective systems we’ve uncovered.
We can also show our investors the wait was worth it.
Of course, it takes time.
But to borrow that famous line, I do believe “good things come to those who wait.”
Sure, I know it’s easy in hindsight to say that exploration takes time.
And I know it can be seen as an easy excuse for inaction or delay.
But at the same time, I know anyone who’s been following what we’ve been doing at Kavango will know we’ve not been inactive, we’ve not delayed. Far from it.
In taking the time we have to truly prove how what we’re doing at the KSZ could be a game changer, we’ve done a lot of work. We’ve continued to move forward at all times.
Indeed, I think when you take a moment to step back like I have here and really consider the process of exploration, you realise that it’s only by taking the time that we have (and riding the ups and downs that come in doing so), that you see a company who is serious about what it’s doing.
Right now, we have a very exciting and very serious opportunity in front of us that I believe will soon attract a lot of attention.
And hopefully you can see how seriously rewarding the work we’ve carried out could be.
Yes, there’s a way to go. Yes, there is still work to be done. But I do believe that the time we’ve take to come this far will be more than worth it.