I first heard about crowdfunding from my brother. This is a little embarrassing because I am immersed in investing news on a daily basis and my brother is an electronics technician in the Canadian air force. But that reinforces what crowdfunding is all about; it’s a grassroots movement often used for funding small opportunities. Opportunities too small for the large investment industry.
It isn’t surprising that there are exploration and mining projects starting to show up in the world of crowdfunding. So far I’ve only personally heard of two — one to equip artisanal miners and one to mine ice on the moon.
While the latter has considerable appeal personally, I am quite concerned about the former. Investing in mining water from the moon in order to fuel interplanetary or vehicles can’t really be considered anything other than a long term investment, with low odds of success. Not something that is likely to be pitched as a get rich quick scheme.
Artisanal mining on the other hand has been pitched countless times as a way to get rich quick. And as an industry, we know the history of scams and that there are still scams happening with private companies or companies on poorly regulated exchanges.
I am concerned that crowdfunding will be used as a way to introduce new investors to mining without the safeguards of proper financial accounting or the resource identification and development process. I am also concerned that funds raised could be used for extraction without environmental safeguards or reclamation plans. I can almost see it now: crowdsourced funds being used to fly executives and promote to investors while gold is extracted by stripping a landscape and poisoning the environment.
The exploration and mining industry has made dramatic improvements in the past 20 or 30 years. It would be a shame if the industry takes a step backward in the eyes of the investing public as a result of a crowdfunded company that goes wrong.
What do we do? We can’t stop crowdfunding and we can’t stop people from taking advantage of others. But we can communicate and educate. What makes crowdfunding work is the speed that information gets to those who need it. Let’s all keep an eye out for dubious investment opportunities and communicate within and outside of the industry when we find them.