An overview of the geology and history of mining in Manitoba

Disclaimer: I am an investment writer with an interest in the resource industry. I am not a Professional Geologist or licensed financial advisor. I do own investments in some Manitoba-based mining companies and will disclose this information when relevant. Please always do your own due diligence before making any decisions that affect your portfolio.

 

In my last blog post, Digging into Manitoba’s resource industry, I mentioned that I was going to take a closer look at metals and mining in the province where I live. Mining is a significant activity here but there aren’t many people following it.

Where’s the best place to start when looking at the mining industry of any region? The geology and history of the area is, in my opinion, pretty key to understanding where we are today.

What follows is a brief overview the geological and historical factors that influence the mining industry in Manitoba.

A note about sources: Most (but not all) information came from the Mineral Resources Division of the Manitoba Government. I have linked to their pages where relevant. They have SO MUCH valuable information and I see my initial blogging effort as distilling what they have into something easy and accessible to others. So if you ever want more information or to go deeper, be sure to visit their website.

GEOLOGY OF MANITOBA

The area of rock that we now call Manitoba is mostly Precambrian rock (specifically, the Canadian Shield) covered by sedimentary rocks that were deposited in different time periods.

Manitoba is roughly divided into 4 geological areas (and those areas are further sub-divided). At the most basic level, Manitoba’s geological areas are: The Superior Province, the Trans-Hudson Orogen, the Hudson Bay Basin, and the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. Mineral exploration is conducted in all four areas.

Here is a simplified map I put together of the four areas of Manitoba’s geology:

If you want some excellent and far more detailed maps, be sure to check out the maps created by the Manitoba Government:

  • Official Highway Map of Manitoba:If you’re not familiar with Manitoba, this is a map of the province (with links to smaller maps of different sections). For your information, most of the province’s population lives in the southern third of the province. This map will also be useful to identify the proximity of infrastructure (roads, power, water, population) that mining companies need to rely on.
  • Geology of Manitoba Map (PDF): This is a more-detailed version of the map I have provided above. It includes more rock-types. It’s a must-read.
  • Geological Survey Map: This is an interactive map that provides more detail about the geological surveys of the province. It’s a hybrid between my basic map and the Geology of Manitoba Map.
  • Geological Domains Map (PDF): This map gives some of the big-picture geological areas that might be considered “mini-mining-districts of Manitoba”.
  • License Map (PDF): This map is a little overwhelming at first, and I’m not sure what all of the zones are and what they mean. I intend to look into this further. But this map does show where there are some mineral exploration licenses and mining claims and restricted areas.
  • GIS Map Gallery: This page gives access to interactive maps of mineral disposition maps, geo-scientific maps, and petroleum maps. It looks very useful but a little more advanced than the information I am looking for right now. I’ve bookmarked this page to go back to it later when I know more.

MANITOBA’S MINING HISTORY

I am presenting highlights of Manitoba’s mining history below but if you want more detail from my sources, here is an easy-to-read downloadable PDF of the history of mining in Manitoba and here is an excellent timeline to provide even more detail.

Prehistory: The aboriginal people of Manitoba are known to have mined in an island located in the area marked with the red dot, below. This area (now called Black Island) contains red rock and the first peoples of the province used this red rock for pigment.

1700s: Exploration for minerals by Europeans goes back to the 1700s when explorers followed up on the aboriginal mining at Black Island.

1800s: In the 1800s, the following minerals were discovered and mined in the area: Salt, limestone, magnetite, dolomite, and coal. In 1890, gold was discovered in Falcon Lake (located at the gold dot, below)…

Manitoba joined Confederation in 1870.

1900s: In the 1900s, the following minerals were discovered and mined: Gypsum, granite, copper, nickel, copper-zinc, copper-nickel, lithium, molybdenum, chromite, tantalum, copper-zinc-gold-silver, and oil.

  • The tantulum produced in Manitoba is from the only tantalum mine in North America
  • I was also surprised to discover that peat moss is included as a significant part of the mining industry. It started being mined in Manitoba in 1939 and continues on today. I’ve never followed peat moss as part of the industry before!

2000s: Today, over 70 companies perform exploration activities in Manitoba and here’s a list of the minerals that are mined in Manitoba and what company mines them.

What I’m working on this week (July 9 – 13)

Last week was busy. There was a conference in town for an organization that several friends of mine work for, so I was able to connect with friends I haven’t seen in several years. On the work side of things, I crossed a few projects off my list that had been lingering for a while.

This week, I’ve got a few projects taking up my attention:

  • Writing an ebook for a real estate investor
  • Writing a couple of articles for clients — to be posted in Huffington Post and local newspapers
  • Doing some research for my free graphite minerals investing e-course
  • Writing a chapter in my book (finally!!!)

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Digging into Manitoba’s resource industry

I’ve been following the resource industry for years.

I have an interest in the resource industry globally, although most of my exposure has been to companies listed on the Canadian venture exchange (the “TSX-V”). It’s not a preference, it’s just where I’ve landed in practice because of who I write for and what experts I listen to.

I’m fascinated by different metals and the economics behind their exploration and production. Junior resource companies, in particular, satisfy my need to look at entrepreneurial businesses from an economic and stock-trading perspective. I get excited by new trends in exploration (as you can see by the work I’m doing at my graphite minerals free e-course).

One area that I love to think about (and it’s a method I use to help me find good investments) is to look at jurisdictions. Mining jurisdictions are politically-defined areas where minerals are abundant and where mining is (usually) an important activity. These jurisdictions are found all over the world. There are some in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Alaska, Nevada, California, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and elsewhere.

Although I am fascinated by jurisdictions (and companies that mine there), I’ve never paid a lot of attention to the resource industry in Manitoba (which is the province I live in). I love where I live but my focus has too frequently been elsewhere.

Manitoba has a rich and thriving resource industry that does not get a lot of attention. As I look around this province, it seems like the resource industry here is underserved. Yes, there are analysts and mining experts that watch these companies but I haven’t found any jurisdictionally-focused investment writers who are looking at Manitoba as a mining district. And yet, we have a rich history in mining that is said to go back hundreds or even thousands of years (the Aboriginal people are said to have mined some red rock in the province). And today, Manitoba produces a lot of minerals, including more than 20% of Canada’s nickel, more than 15% of Canada’s cobalt, and 100% of Canada’s lithium (Source: Manitoba Government – Innovation, Energy, and Mines – Industry Profile).

So I’ve started exploring the mining industry in Manitoba and I’ve decided to blog about it from time to time. (If mining in Manitoba doesn’t interest you, don’t go away. I’m still blogging about business, finance, and real estate, too.).

Please note this important disclaimer: I am an investment writer with an interest in the resource industry. I am not a Professional Geologist or licensed financial advisor. I do own investments in some Manitoba-based mining companies and will disclose this information when relevant. Please always do your own due diligence before making any decisions that affect your portfolio.

DIGGING INTO MANITOBA’S RESOURCE INDUSTRY

The very first place to start is the Manitoba Government’s Department of Innovation, Energy, and Mines, and specifically their Mineral Resource Division (since I’m not as interested in the sci/tech innovation that they also govern). Sometimes, Manitoba’s Mining Association (which has the enviable domain name of Mines.ca) has some useful information, although I find the government website to be substantially more helpful.

My plan is to start at the links above and dig in, exploring the province’s resource industry as much as possible. I’m coming at is as someone with some experience/background in resources and investment but who knows very little about this particular jurisdiction. My goal with this effort is to learn more about Manitoba as a mining jurisdiction (and share my findings with you) and discover new investment opportunities to consider.

If you have an interest in the resource mining industry (and especially of the resource mining industry in Manitoba), bookmark this tag — Mining In Manitoba — and check back. If you are a industry expert, professional geologist, or investor with an interest in the Manitoba resource industry, please contact me because I’d love to talk with you further.

Why it’s sometimes good to lose a sale

Your conversion rate is the percentage of prospects that actually buy from you.

So if you have 100 prospects and 10 of them buy from you, your conversion rate is 10%.

Easy.

But here’s what you do need to know (yet many entrepreneurs don’t know)…

Part of your job as a business owner is to improve your conversion rate. Try to grow that rate by closing more often. Instead of closing 10/1000 customers, try to close 11/100. Then 12. Then 15. Then 20. Etc. This is a smart move because it’s more profitable (and less work!) than just increasing the number of prospects.

It’s important to always push that rate higher. But there is a limit.

There is a point at which your rate is too high. At that point, people are becoming customers in droves (which seems good) but it could hint at something seriously broken right now and something terrible is about to happen in your business.

1. SOMETHING IS BROKEN RIGHT NOW

If your conversion rate climbs and climbs and reaches a point that is too high, it can often suggest one of the following things:

  • That your marketing overpromises the value of the product or service.
  • That you have incorrectly priced your products or services and the value you offer is far greater than the price you’re asking. Note: The value you offer should be higher than the price you’re asking but if it’s too high then you might end up with too many customers — and possibly too many unprofitable customers.

2. SOMETHING TERRIBLE IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN

A too-high conversion rate means bad things are about to happen in your business:

  • Perhaps you will end up with a customer service issue if you overpromised something in your marketing and after your customers purchased your product or service they discover that it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do.
  • Perhaps you will end up with a cash flow issue as you dump all of your revenue into growing your infrastructure to handle the influx of customers.
  • Perhaps you will end up with a big stockpile of inventory if your conversion rate is a spike that decreases as quickly as it increases.

(On a related note, this is one of the reasons why many new businesses fail: They get customers but don’t have the cash flow or infrastructure set up to handle those customers).

With conversion rates that are too high, you’ll end up with dissatisfied staff, dissatisfied vendors, dissatisfied customers, balance sheet problems, income statement problems, cash flow problems, procedural/infrastructure problems, and more.

WHAT YOUR CONVERSION RATE SHOULD BE LIKE

Your conversion rate should start low and grow steadily. It should grow with your business as you improve your skill set and infrastructure, and as you staff up. You can test your ability to handle more customers (in smaller spikes) as you try out new marketing methods or selling methods or technology.

In other words, your conversion rate should steadily improve through intentional scaling rather than as a wild and unpredictable growth

ONE OTHER REASON WHY YOU WANT TO LOSE A SALE

There is another reason I haven’t mentioned: As your business grows and your conversion rate climbs, you should be worried if you start closing nearly every sale.

Why?

Because you learn just as much — or more — from the customers you don’t serve as the customers you do serve. The ones you don’t serve will tell you why they didn’t buy (sometimes you have to ask) and you should listen. If enough of them are asking for something that you can deliver, you can offer products or services to serve them.

If many are looking for a cheaper price, consider establishing a budget-friendlier service you can offer them (or a layaway plan or something like that). If many are super-users and your product or service is for the average user, consider a higher-pried, higher-functionality version of whatever you’re selling.

Just recently, one of my subscribers at an email newsletter unsubscribed. He was kind enough to email me why. Turns out, he’s not in my target market. We’ve had a great conversation since and he’s become a good contact I will rely on in the future. He’s just one guy. But if more of my subscribers (or UNsubscribers!) tell me the same thing then I’ll need to adjust my newsletter to match their request. I plan on using a survey shortly to see if there are others who are like that first subscriber. If so, it’s an easy fix!

THE QUESTIONS I HAVEN’T ANSWERED YET

So I haven’t yet answered some questions and you’re probably wondering about the answers: “What’s the right conversion rate for my business?”, “What rate is too high?”, and “How fast is too fast for a conversion rate to climb?”

You’re going to hate my answer but the answer is: “I don’t know.” Conversion rate ratios and speed are going to be different for every business. It depends on a million factors including your business model, and what infrastructure you have in place, and your relationship with customers and vendors and staff, and your own personal ability to deliver (or manage staff) while scaling up.

But here are some tips to help you find the right conversion rate for your business:

  • See if you can get access to average conversion rates in your industry. Those numbers won’t be perfect but they are a start.
  • Know your current conversion rate (many businesses don’t know what their conversion rate is) and use it as a baseline.
  • Figure out what factors will increase your conversion rate. (It usually has to do with the marketing and sales efforts in your sales funnel but sometimes other factors like the time of year will impact it too). Then do your best to master those factors — either by systematizing them or predicting them in your sales funnel.
  • Ask yourself how you would handle the growth in customers if you intentionally increased your conversion rate to 5%, 10%, 25%, 50%, and even 100%. How would your business handle it? What changes would you need to make throughout your sales funnel? Build checklists and flowcharts to help you be intentional.
  • Build contingency plans to handle unexpected spikes in your business. Start with figuring out WHY the spike is occurring and then plan how you would scale up quickly to handle the sudden burst. (There are lots of things you can do: Staff up quickly, have technology researched and ready-to-implement, discount prices for delayed delivery, set up a waiting list, etc.

What I’m working on this week (July 2 – 6)

Happy patriotic week! If you’re a Canadian reader, Happy Canada Day on July 1st! If you’re an American reader, Happy Independence Day on July 4th!

It’s also the start to the second half of the year. For me, that means revisiting my goals and tasks for the year and making sure I’m on track or determining if I need to make a course adjustment. I’m really excited about what this second half of the year holds for me and for my clients. The global economy may not seem great but my clients are BUSY and that’s always a good thing!

Here’s what I’m working on this week:

  • One of my clients just started blogging for a newspaper so I’m writing a few blogs to get ahead of the curve for her.
  • I do a lot of work for MetalsNews and I just received a big order of reports/articles to write for them. They usually require a fair amount of research so I’ve rolled up my sleeves and dug in.
  • Doing some work on the free graphite mining course I’m offering and on another project of mine, How To Invest TV.

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