XL: Welcome. Do you prefer Jorge, or Patricio. Your first name is Jorge, but everyone who's spoken of you calls you Patricio.
JPJ: It's a second name. It comes from my mother preferring it to "George". I guess that's why it's stuck with me.
XL: So, is your preference Patricio, then?
JPJ: Yeah, no problem. [laughs] Whatever. No preference; I am Jorge or Patricio.
Like many great stories, Jorge Patricio Jones' career in mining began with an unexpected turn of events. After studying water resources geology in his hometown of La Plata, Argentina, Jorge Patricio graduated to find the only job available was in hard rock mining in the gold and platinum fields of South Africa. He took the position, and his experiences with Union Corporation and Impala Platinum there gave him a case of mining fever. He's now been in the field for over 35 years.
After deciding to leave Africa and return to South America, Jorge Patricio spent a month knocking on doors in Brazil, looking for a job in the country's burgeoning minerals industry. He had nearly given up hope when suddenly he got three employment offers in a single day. Going to work for Canadian nickel and base metals producer Inco, Jorge Patricio traversed the rocks of the Brazilian shield, becoming intimately familiar with this ancient terrain.
The experience paid off when he took a new job with BP Minerals and was instrumental in bringing online three of the world's highest-grade tin mines – Serra da Onca, 14 de Abril and Serra da Cacimba – deposits that were among the few to continue operating when the price of tin crashed in 1986. The success propelled him into the position of Exploration Manager for Latin America, and he was soon combing greenfields exploration properties in Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia, looking for gold.
Jorge Patricio's wife inadvertently spurred the next stage of his career. In 1987, having been away from their native Argentina for nearly 20 years, she asked him if they could return to their homeland. The move from Brazil proved fortuitous, as the very next year the Brazilian mining industry collapsed following the passing of new laws limiting foreign ownership of mineral companies.
Back in Argentina, Jorge Patricio immediately began to work his magic in a new position with the Providencia silver mine. Under his guidance, the mine's crumbling infrastructure was revamped, resulting in a tripling of production. He sensed, however, that there were bigger opportunities in Argentina – a country with no modern mineral exploration – and left Providencia to see what was out there.
Opportunity soon came knocking on his door, literally, in the form of mining legend Lukas Lundin, who was eyeing properties in Argentina and came to talk to Jorge Patricio about, of all things, taxes. Lukas immediately recognized Jorge Patricio's geological know-how, and sent him out on horseback to review potential acquisition properties. Jorge Patricio's keen eye soon focused on the Bajo de la Alumbrera copper-gold porphyry, a property that he helped Lukas obtain and then bring to feasibility. The mine proved to be huge, weighing in at nearly 3 million tonnes copper.
With this success under his belt, Jorge Patricio once again started from scratch, assembling an exploration team at mining firm Minera Argentina Gold that began scouting new targets throughout Argentina. This time, he settled upon the Veladero and El Carmen properties on the Chilean border. As drilling began, it was clear that his rock sense was once again dead on: grades came back as high as 62 g/t gold. The interest was eventually sold to Homestake for $250 million, and in 2001 a resource estimate at Veladero came in at a staggering 19.3 million ounces gold. That at a $275 gold price.
Today, Jorge Patricio still believes that Argentina is one of the most promising areas in the world for new mineral finds. As Director of Desarrollo de Prospectos Mineros S.A. (DEPROMINSA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Lundin firm Tenke Mining, he is exploring the José Maria and Vicuña copper-gold porphyries, the latter being a massive-sized target composed of 20 separate alteration zones. The company is also investigating the El Bagual epithermal gold-silver prospect, which has already yielded gold grades as high as 40 g/t at surface. This combination of an under-explored country and one of the greatest geologists alive is sure to generate big news in the not too distant future.