Mirage Resources International Pty Ltd (No Liability),
and the Curious Affair of
the Golden Windle Investment Project
Published by Lindsay Johannsen at Shakespir
Copyright Lindsay Johannsen 2016
Shakespir Edition Licence Notes.
This children’s story is available to you for Free. I insist on maintaining my copyright, however, but until such time as I become staggeringly famous and amend this notice please feel free to reproduce, copy, disseminate or distribute it generally amongst your friends and/or enemies by whatever means you have at your disposal and to your heart’s content, provided this is done in a purely non-commercial manner and the story remains complete and in its original form. My preference, though, is for you to recommend to others that they should download “Mirage Resources International Pty Ltd (No Liability), and
the Curious Affair of the Golden Windle Investment Project”
from Shakespir for themselves, so enriching my life with a warm glow of satisfaction in lieu of monetary reward.
National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-publication Data:
Author: Johannsen, Lindsay Andrew
Title: Mirage Resources International Pty Ltd (No Liability), and
the Curious Affair of the Golden Windle Investment Project
Cover art and design bungled by the author.
Also published by the same author at Shakespir:
The “novels”: “McCullock’s Gold” and “The Cassidy Chronicles”
…plus some short stories and other rubbish.
To order the paperback version of McCullock’s Gold or contact the author please visit
Mirage Resources International Pty Ltd (No Liability),
and the Curious Affair of
the Golden Windle Investment Project
Proprietor, Punting’s Second-Hand Bike Shop.
FLUENT BICYCLE SPOKE HERE!
Well gees old mate, what a surprise, hearing from you again after all these years. I honestly thought the crocs had got you – you know, moving up to the Top End the way you did then completely dropping off the radar. And what has it been now? Fifty years if it’s a day … and then some.
A lot of water through the washing machine since those days, old timer: marriage, the kids grown up, grandchildren (bless their black little hearts), homestead burnt to the ground in the bushfires, the missus clearing out with that fire chief feller…
He was the one that lit the bugger, too, they reckoned. Course nothing was ever proved and it all died down in the end, especially after he got that Order Of Australia gong – Companion’s Offsider’s Mate’s Left-hand Helper or something.
After the insurance was settled I finished up in Alice Springs. The lawyers got most of it, of course, and Godzilla got most of what was left, but I ended up with enough to get meself started again – though putting old bikes back together was a bit of a come-down after fixing our big farm machines. Still, the bicycle business keeps tucker on the table and the fridge full. Most times.
My best shot at getting back on me feet again came a few decades back, not long after I lobbed here and set up the bike shop. This was during the CenterPac oil shale boom, see, when penny-dreadful shares were going through the roof and blokes were mortgaging their mothers so they could get on board.
I never got mixed up in that sort of business, of course, but commodities prices were good at the time, so instead I got hold of a Northern Territory Miner’s Right and started doing a bit of prospecting out around the ridges – in my spare time like, not that I ever got onto anything half worthwhile. Anyhow, the next thing I know is I’m getting all these colour-illustrated flyers in the mail, encouraging me to take advantage of one or another of their so-called “unique mining industry opportunities” that seemed to pop up on a regular basis.
Mostly they involved four hundred and fifty thousand tonnes per week gold treatment plants or the likes, now surplus to requirements, along with their associated two hundred man transportable camps etc. Interestingly, they always seemed to be located at places like Coconut Creek in the Bungaloo Islands Group, or just below the summit of Papua-New Guinea’s Mount Kokaroka, close by the Irian Jayan border – all subject to a successful, bilaterally agreed survey and the local rebellion being put down, with removal and transportation of all items being the responsibility of the Vendee.
Anyway, it was about then that I had a brainwave. Like I said before, metals prices were going gangbusters, so why not look to purchasing a small grass-roots project somewhere, one with the potential to produce an easily marketed, high-value/low volume mineral concentrate of some sort. There’d be plenty of them out there, I reasoned, rich little pockets of this or that which had been found and half-forgotten decades ago – the sort of thing into which my own time and effort input would add capital value, while at the same time having profits from the sales of product increasing my savings.
As a result of all this I placed an ad in the principal mining industry investment journal of the day. “Shafting and Cutting”, it was called, the idea being to attract the owners of smaller-type prospects who were looking for an outright sale or a joint venture partner, perhaps.
Anyway, the ad placement was successful, and to shortcut the story temporarily I was soon the proud owner of a promising little prospect located in the floodout region of the NT’s Hale River, in Central Australia.
“The Golden Windle” it was called and it had exactly the “small mining-operation potential” I’d wanted. I’d had great hopes for it, too, but regrettably, just weeks after purchasing the property from Mirage Resources International Proprietary Limited (No Liability) and before having an opportunity to return there, heavy rains and a major flood in the Hale River erased all trace of its existence – tracks, lease pegs, the ridge hosting the mineralisation… Everything, in fact.
In the months following the rains I made several attempts to locate the place, all without success, I regret to say. Of course in those days there was no such thing as GPS; one had to navigate using maps and local knowledge. You’ll be well aware, too, that I wasn’t some green-as-grass newchum with a total lack of skills and experience in finding my way around. I mean I’d earned my Wanderers Club Master Navigator’s Gold Badge as a for heaven’s sakes – AND the Boy Scouts First Class Star of Merit Citation for Map Reading (I might add modestly).
And yet, despite all this, I was never again able to locate The Golden Windle outcrop. It was gone, buried and lost forever, apparently, under the sands of the Hale River floodout.
Later I came to realise that, in many respects, it was not unlike the Lasseter’s Reef affair. You know: Out There Somewhere, another legendary bonanza lost in the vastness of the Central Australian wilderness. Lasseter’s Reef; Tom Hanlon’s Simpson Desert gold find on the Queensland border…
The Golden Windle.
Course this is just the bare-bones version of the story, old mate, and I know you’ll have plenty of questions, so I’ll now explain the rest of the business, bullet holes, blisters and all.
See a few days after lodging the advertisement I found myself talking on the phone to a Mr Lawrencium Actinides, CEO and Executive Development Manager of Mirage Resources International PTY LTD (No Liability). He’d seen my advertisement and had decided on calling me immediately (he’d explained), as he wanted to seize the moment. But both his secretary and his personal assistant were temporarily out of the building, he added, as a result of which he was ringing directly from one of the Board Room telephones.
After some brief but friendly small talk he asked what sort of capital outlay I had in mind. When I told him about my little nest-egg he waxed enthusiastic and set about giving me a confidential briefing on a property MRI owned, following which he went on to enquire as to whether I’d had previous experience in the mining industry or if I possessed any knowledge of metals recovery processes.
None whatsoever, I told him, adding that my father had been a rabbit trapper all his life and I myself was now the proprietor of a second hand bicycles and repair shop. Just then there came a sudden burst of laughter in the background, so I asked Mr Actinides about the convivial atmosphere in their premises.
He explained how the board was enjoying a few drinks after having concluded a successful International business deal. One of the board members had just told a very funny story, he said, following which he seemed to have a good deal of trouble stifling his own mirth. But it was soon back to business.
Brass, Mr Actinides exclaimed enthusiastically, was the metal of the moment, especially on the international scene. But to individual investors – people like myself – the business, marketwise, remained a closed industry secret.
This was the sort of thing the real wheelers and dealers in the commodities business kept strictly to themselves, he explained, following which he confided to me that a discreet enquiry with a scrap metal dealer would confirm current brass values without showing one’s hand, so to speak, adding that I should use the current multiplier of four point eight two for newly-mined, virgin brass.
When I corrected his comment about brass being mined rather than made he reassured me in the strictest confidence that its creation exclusively by manufacture was exactly what everyone was supposed to believe. “And that is very nearly the truth of the matter,” he added, “because most of it is, in fact, produced by manufacture. But what is not generally known is that a relatively small tonnage of brass is actually produced by mining.
As it happens, though, the mined product is far superior in quality to the manufactured alloy, and this, plus the limited quantity released to market, creates an extremely high demand for the new metal, so influencing the value of its multiplier.”
But the problem, he said, is that there are only two producing mines in the whole world. Both are located in Botswana and both are under the control of the US Military, via front companies. As a result the bulk of it is commandeered, and the sales of any surplus metal is restricted to a small number of security-cleared senior staff of authorised trading companies. Mirage Resources International NL is, of course, one such Company.
I then enquired as to why Mirage wasn’t proceeding with such a promising project in its own right, whereupon Mr Actinides pointed out that it was all a matter of scale. He then went on to explain how a typical operation in Mirage Resources’ portfolio would see the whole deposit mined out in half a day. Initially, he said, because of its richness, the board had decided to seek a suitably sized junior joint venture partner to set up and run the Golden Windle operation (as they had named it) on a scale more commensurate with its dimensions.
But the standard of applicants had been very disappointing, he added, as a result of which the board had subsequently decided on the option of an outright sale – provided that satisfactory guarantees of a prospective purchaser’s trustworthiness was forthcoming and the right approach to the business – along with the necessary capital – was demonstrated beforehand (all of which I was able to establish to his satisfaction, the latter via a bank document).
I then mentioned how the name Golden Windle had a certain ring to it and asked how it came to be chosen. Mr Actinides invited me to call him Laurie, then took time to explain that it originated in a game the early Cornish tin miners played, a pea-in-the-shell thing called “windles”.
“But somehow,” he added, laughing in his uproarious manner, “somewhere in the paperwork when the lease applications were drawn up, the ‘S’ was lost or forgotten.”
Mr Actinides then volunteered to cancel his next week’s scheduled meetings with BHP Billiton and the Federal Resources Minister, in order to come up from Melbourne and show me out to the prospect. I told him it wasn’t as urgent as all that but he insisted, saying also that, by coincidence, Mirage International’s chief exploration geologist, Mr Isaac Lionel-Foalding, would already be there, as he’d be flying up early in the week to do some research at the Mines Department and then arrange a few things.
“We three could meet up in the airport terminal,” he suggested. “That way we can get to know each other over a cup of coffee as we discuss things.” (…Which, all in all, seemed a great idea.)
The first thing that became apparent on joining the pair in front of the cafeteria was that, company exec’s or not, these fellows were men of action. Lionel-Foalding was in well frayed work gear (which was reasonable, him being a geologist), but Mr Actinides had forgone his business suit for even rougher looking, work-worn clothing.
Then, straight after introductions, instead of coffees, Actinides explained urgently how their situation had changed. There was no longer any time for coffee and niceties, he said. His meeting schedules had tightened considerably, meaning we’d have to set off to the Golden Windle as soon as possible.
I then suggested that in order to save time with the 4×4 hire car rigmarole we should make the trip in my old Land Rover. Both Actinides and Lionel-Foalding agreed to the idea enthusiastically, and with all three of us keen to get moving we headed back to town just long enough for me to top up the fuel tank, fill some extra jerry cans, check the water drum and buy some sandwiches and drinks. We then set off, eastward from Alice Springs, as fast as the old Rover would take us.
After a couple of hours travelling the other two needed a comfort stop, by which time it was beginning to get dark. Then, as I went to get back in, Mr Actinides put a hand on my shoulder and insisted they be the ones to drive. They’d take it turn and turn about through the night, he explained, so as to not fall behind “schedule-wise” (as he put it). And this was how we proceeded – though I must say that a couple of times I awoke to find one or the other had stopped for a lengthy roadside nap over the wheel.
These were the only times I actually managed to get some sleep, for this hurried journey was taking us along some of the roughest, most rudimentary bush tracks I have ever experienced. On top of that, between trying to nap and looking occasionally at what was showing in the headlights, I found myself quite disorientated and couldn’t for the life of me shake off the notion that we were driving around in circles – something I eventually mentioned in an effort to make a little conversation.
Both Mr Isaac and Actinides had a good laugh at my comment, with Mr Actinides suggesting it would be a good idea for me to try and get as much sleep as possible. “We’ll have a busy day ahead of us once we arrive at the Golden Windle,” he added chidingly. And he was right of course.
Sunrise saw us bouncing through what seemed like an infinite vista of spinifex and scattered mallee. I couldn’t see any tracks but my associates assured me we only had a few kilometres to go.
Once there it was straight to work, of course, with Mr Isaac explaining the significance of the geology as they showed me around the prospect and pointed out where they’d collected their various samples. Later, while we were having a break and finishing off last night’s sandwiches, Mr Actinides even allowed me to see their confidential assay results.
“Generally speaking,” he said encouragingly, as I looked over the figures, “Mirage International NL regards the mineralisation here as being particularly significant.”
He didn’t have to enlarge on that, however. I could see for myself how promising it all looked. The brass grades evident in the “host rocks” (as Mr Actinides called them) were there for anyone to see.
Something else I noticed was the inordinate number of shotgun cartridges lying about the place. When I asked about this Mr Actinides explained that their exploration team’s previous visit had been interrupted by a mob of demented wild camels that threatened and harassed them. They’d had to keep firing the shotgun to frighten the beasts away, he said. He was particularly annoyed to find the empty cartridge shells still there, however, and admonished his associate severely. As the company’s Chief Exploration Geologist Lionel-Foalding was responsible for this sort of thing, he later explained to me. He should have seen to it that the discarded items were properly disposed of, in line with Mirage International’s strict environmental policies.
Later again, over a rudimentary lunch of the remaining sandwiches plus the half packet of Sao biscuits and three-year old tin of bully-beef I’d found under the driver’s seat, Mr Isaac instructed me in the fundamentals of how the rocks here came to be formed. He then explained how (despite the conditions for brass deposition being desperately critical), when the requirements were exactly right, its emplacement occurred extremely rapidly.
“-—In the geological sense, that is,” he added quickly, with both men laughing uproariously at his having to clarify the issue.
He also indicated, in the manner of a friendly mentor, how in circumstances such as these it was always advisable that a prospective buyer take nothing as granted. I should collect some samples for myself, he cautioned, and have independent assays done – so as to confirm the data provided by Mirage. He then gave me some sample bags and took the trouble to show me the best places to collect my samples; later he recommended a reliable firm of laboratory analysts wherein the samples could be tested at a favourable price.
Later in the afternoon we took the opportunity to have a couple hour’s doze under some mulga trees, “To catch up on sleep lost the previous night and fortify ourselves for the long journey home,” Mr Actinides said, as they had to catch a return plane in the morning.
I would add here, too, that after sleeping in fits and starts the previous night and then putting in a hard day at the prospect, I had no trouble in getting some shut-eye – both then and later as the Land Rover bucked and bounced through the spinifex and along the tracks on the way back to town. I only woke a couple of times during the return trip, but I did notice that we’d stopped along the way again several times while whichever one was driving took a nap over the wheel. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when daybreak revealed that we were within striking distance of Alice Springs.
On reaching town we went straight to the budget backpackers to see a Mr Sidney Sligh – there due to an accommodation shortfall, he said. He was left to introduce himself, however, as on arrival the other two had immediately fallen on his previous evening’s pizza leftovers. As Mirage Resources’ Company Secretary it was his job to handle any necessary paperwork, he explained, but as we shook hands it became apparent the fellow was in a state of some anxiety, so I asked was he feeling all right.
He was fine, he said apologetically, then confessed, as he stuffed his belongings into a bag, that the legal teams from two separate junior companies had spent much of yesterday pressing him vigorously over the Golden Windle deposit. Yet despite their strong arguments and aggressive demands he’d managed to maintain my right of first refusal until ten o’clock this morning, he assured me, adding, as he vacated the room, that precious little time remained if I wanted to secure the property.
A hastily arranged board meeting was then convened in the Land Rover as we raced out to the airport, with Mr Isaac driving the old dear flat out and Mr Sligh and myself crammed into the rear – him with the documentation all drawn up and ready for signing.
Mr Actinides opened the meeting by querying if there were some way they could review the asking price perhaps, what with me being such a jolly good fellow and all.
Mr Sligh countered by saying that as Company Secretary it was his unpleasant duty to inform the board that, because of BHP Billiton’s hostile takeover attempt and yesterday’s unfavourable reassessment from the Tax Office on the value of their vast Pilbara tenements and other mining interests, the company was having to revalue their various holdings upward by twenty-two and a quarter percent. Regrettably, he explained, this revaluation would have to include the Golden Windle.
But Mr Isaac argued strongly against its revaluation, saying that inasmuch as the tenement’s asking price had already been agreed upon it would be a breach of faith on the company’s part not to honour it, and the company should wear the consequences. He then put a motion to that effect, which was seconded by Mr Actinides. A vote was then taken and, to my surprise and delight, the proposal was carried two to one.
This was certainly fortunate, as even with my pickle jar of loose change thrown in there was no way my finances could have been stretched by another twenty-two percent – never mind any twenty-five points.
Following this the documentation was signed and I handed over my previously organised bank cheque for the agreed amount.
Once in the terminal, however, there came an unexpected problem: the airline company seemed to have no record whatever of my associates’ bookings. Also, due to Mr Actinides’ secretary having overlooked, somehow, any need for contingency funds (and credit cards at that time not being universal), it fell on me to cover the immediate cost of their fares, “Until such time as we can get back to the company office, of course,” Mr Actinides explained reassuringly. Subsequent to this my financial position comprised just the cash in my pocket pretty much, but sometimes one has to step up and do these things.
From there we headed off to the departure gate, where, before separating, I informed my friends that I’d slept so well on the return leg of our odyssey I wouldn’t have known far we might have come during the night. Had I not known better, I chided jokingly, it would be easy to imagine that our return was either via a shorter well maintained arterial road or we’d not driven around in as many circles.
We all had a good laugh at this, after which we parted company on the very best of terms.
A number of weeks then passed without any contact from MRI’s office and reimbursement for the three first class fares I’d helped with, so I decided to call them – a minor matter such as this having been overlooked in the light of bigger things, presumably. But there must have been a mix-up with the telephone lines, because when I rang Mirage’s number I found myself talking to a garage proprietor’s ten-year old son at some place called Mudbuggery Wash on the Mornington Peninsular.
The men who’d been looking after the place while he and his parents were in Melbourne for three weeks had left, he said, and the telephone extension to the old caravan they’d stayed in behind the house had been rolled up and the phone put back in the workshed.
I pressed him for further details but could make no sense of his answers. Apparently three fellows had been occupying a caravan there while he and his family were away. He’d only ever known them as Uncle Sid, Uncle Laurie and Uncle Isaac.
I saw immediately that the similarity of their names to those of the Mirage International executives was simple coincidence, of course, for there was no way the trio he described could have been connected in any way with a Company the likes of Mirage Resources International.
Then, a few days later – being unable to disabuse myself of a feeling that something untoward had happened to them – I contacted the company’s Melbourne solicitors, Fellows, Schiftie and Sligh. Their Mr Schiftie advised me that the affairs of Mirage Resources International Proprietary Limited (No Liability) had been wound up, due to the entire board of directors (and coincidentally all of the shareholders) mysteriously disappearing somewhere en-route to an exciting new resource discovery near Surfers Paradise.
Tragically, he said, to the best of his knowledge, no trace of them had yet been found. And how trivial my concerns over a few airline tickets seemed , in the light of such a tragedy.
As I said earlier, it wasn’t as if I hadn’t tried my best to locate the Golden Windle, especially having outlaid my entire savings to acquire the property. In fact I was determined to find the place and continue with my development plan as best I could, and the twenty six thousand four hundred and eighty dollars I’d outlaid was the driving force behind that determination. Yet so far, every time I’ve attempted to follow the map provided by Mr Actinides, my efforts have met with failure.
Nothing I saw ever made any sense – including, in many ways, the map itself. The flood had completely changed everything, somehow, with the floodwaters even obliterating a windmill and a large range of hills I’d observed not five kilometres from where the Golden Windle prospect was situated.
Nor were the locals of any help. All claimed they’d never heard of the place, let alone a company named Mirage Resources International. What really galled me, however, was the way everyone seemed to regard the affair as some sort of private joke – with no few of them bothering even to hide their mirth at my predicament. I mean how would they feel if their run-down bloody cattle stations simply disappeared one day in the waters of a major flood? …stock, fences, homesteads and everything.
As for the mining industry mailing list thing… Well, I’ve been on it for years now. And being offered fleets of hundred-plus tonne haul trucks etc certainly makes interesting reading. More importantly, though, I have become quite leery about putting up my details any more. On Especially with all this identity theft and hacking and email scam stuff you read about, like where people take up invitations to assist some Nigerian Government Treasury bloke transfer money somewhere and then lose all their savings somehow, or get hassled into purchasing cheap Viagra or inflatable dolls and the like.
Ah no. They won’t catch out this little wood duck so easily. No way!
And I’m certain, too, that one of these days, someone, somewhere – an exploration geologist or a station hand perhaps – will rediscover the Golden Windle, and when that happens those who found it amusing to scoff at my efforts to rediscover and develop the prospect will be put firmly in their place. It will also prove to the world how the business of making brass, like so many other things, was achieved by the processes of nature millions of years prior to mankind even existing.
Also, one day, when I have a bit more time on my hands and the urge takes me, I might try Googling “Windles”, just to see how the Cornish mine workers used to play the game.
Oh yes. And before I go, old feller, a tip. I was talking to this company Geo in the pub the other night. Keep your eyes on marbles futures, he says. It appears there’s a problem with output from the mine in Brazil that produces the special glass they use for making those “cat’s eye” ones.
So and all the best, old mate, and cheerio for now. And I’ll look forward to having a coupla beers with you if we ever meet up again.
Yours, Dud Punting.