aybe you can buy zinc like any other commodity in the hope that someone will buy it off you for a higher price in the future.  But for the ordinary investor there is really no option for physical zinc exposure but exchange traded funds or ETFs such as ZINC:LN that are backed by zinc.  More sophisticated investors do have the option of looking at futures contracts of the metal which can be bought on the London Metal Exchange.

In terms of equity exposure to zinc miners there are very few almost pure plays on zinc for many reasons both commercial and also to do with geology.  Higher zinc prices could see a boost in companies such a Nyrstar and Boliden and smaller producers such as Trevali and Griffin Mining. Nevsun is interesting in the medium term as it will be mining the zinc-rich part of its Bisha (Volcanic Massive Sulphide (VMS) deposit in Eritrea by 2016.  But these and other major or big companies such as Teck, Lundin and HudBay are well certainly severed by the mining analysts with extensive research coverage.  I am interested in the smaller explorers and developers which are more leveraged to a rise in zinc price but where the intrepid investor needs to thread nimbly in not only considering the economic potential of an ore deposit and the competency and track record of management but also a raft of mitigating factors such as Sovereign risk, metallurgy and most critically community support or suspicion.  Because we are essentially dealing with a bulk commodity there are the challenges of a remote location for some of these zinc projects and the associated cost of providing necessary infrastructure.  With some deposits shipping concentrate may not be possible for a greater part of the year.  There is only a very small amount of Zinc Juniors in the space which makes the job a lot easier, a fraction indeed compared to copper and gold, and so over the coming weeks I plan to sift and delve and comment as I go and see what I think is worth a closer look.  So why zinc?  It is something of which I have some knowledge and like to write about.  The challenges in zinc exploration and discovery and project development are broadly similar to all mining in general and what we do not grow from the ground for our sustenance we have to dig out of the ground.

Clearly I cannot make any recommendations on the Zinc Juniors which I write about and in any event this would be an insult to your intelligence and independence of thought.  My notes will just contain my personal view based on experience spanning some 25 years, initially as a young exploration geologist exploring around the fringe of one of the world’s great zinc-lead deposits near Navan in Ireland to more recently as CEO of a Canadian-listed zinc Junior operating in Poland.


John P. Barry
Managing Director of Irus Consulting Ltd. and Professional Geologist

A widely travelled and highly experienced economic geologist, John Barry is a confidential counsellor to the likely investor contemplating a considerable investment in the intricate business of mining metals. Don’t take a “flyer” and trust altogether in luck and invest your money in an exploration or mining project on the strength of a printed prospectus or the advice of an interested friend without the preliminary investigation and site visit of a reliable geologist with a basic grasp of commerical reality.  Irus Consulting provides  strategic and practical management advice and guidance  to its clients.  Time is a precious commodity for my clients, and indeed myself, as it relentlessly ebbs away and so I  try as best I can to avoid the mediocre - those projects and their champions which do not engender enthusiastic belief and passion.

Irus Services Include:
- High-level strategic advice
- Practical guidance and assistance on project sourcing, acquisition and implementation
- Rapid identification of key project value-drivers and potential fatal flaws.
- Capacity building and coordination of  external consultants.
- Design and targeting of effective marketing campaigns

John Barry was part of very small teams which discovered and sourced several multi-million ounce gold deposits in Africa. He has worked as an economic geologist since 1988 and as a consultant and then responding to the entrepreneurial spirit he was a founder and manager of three public resource companies which raised a total of US$70million. These resource companies are currently successfully exploring and developing gold and base metal projects in Europe, and sub-Sahara Africa. John has seen a lot of rocks working for consultancies such as CSA in both Ireland and Australia and as Senior Associate Geologist with Chlumsky Armbrust & Meyer LLC which is based in Denver.  He is a specialist in zin-lead exploration and in 1992 joined the exploration team which discovered the Lisheen zinc-lead deposit in Ireland as the resource was being expanded in the first couple of years after discovery and in 2008 led the first non Polish exploration company to successfully enter and acquire a major resource-project in the Upper Silesian Mississippi-Valley-Type (MVT) zinc-lead district  in southern Poland – the world’s largest minerlised district of its kind. John (P.Geo and EurGeol) holds a Master’s Degree in Geology from Pennsylvania State University and a MBA from the Edinburgh School of Business, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

“I would like to think that I have shown the tenacity, patience and focus required to implement many of my better ideas over the years and that I have learned valuable lessons from some failures. I believe one of my strengths is in communicating quite complex technical ideas in a concrete way that can be easily understood. I am a team- builder and motivator by projecting my enthusiasm and vision for a project. I am committed to the development of young geologists through supportive delegation.” John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is Managing Director of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy: Irus Consulting Ltd. Please visit for more information and free newsletter registration. 

John is now moving more from managing public companies to freelance consultancy and a more advisory role so as to concentrate increasingly on assisting management in effective exploration and discovery. He is MD of his own Exploration Management and Geological Consultancy – Irus Consulting Ltd.

Click here to download John’s Statement of Qualifications as a PDF

Click here to download John’s CV as a PDF

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