Private funding is very difficult to access for exploration, and the best source of private capital for exploration is probably from high-net-worth career mining explorers or from mining operators that are looking to outsource exploration. Mexico is fortunate in that it has five or six private individuals who are themselves eager participants in the Mexican exploration industry. This is something even the Mexican industry does not understand about itself. The fact that national investors are eager to fund these projects gives foreign investors like ourselves some confidence.
Security can be an issue in certain isolated areas within the country and even though we have an interesting project in Guerrero we have not been able to deploy exploration in the area due to these issues. We have tried a couple of times to start exploring it but unfortunately, we have experienced safety problems and have removed our people from the area. Thanks to our large project portfolio we can pause our efforts in this area and direct them toward less challenging regions. We hope that the area will be at a more stable stage in the future. The growing presence of the mining industry has the potential to change the reality of the state as it will bring economic growth and quality jobs. This will help lower violence and crime rates and will establish a more efficient context for mining.
Lithium is the flavor of the month at the moment for several reasons, the most important being that people have not yet lost money on it in a prior market downcycle. This means investors are generally unburdened by caution when it comes to this metal and there are no bad expectations. Another factor is that the world is not short of lithium. The reason for the upsurge is that demand for lithium increased so quickly that the producers of the metal could not increase their productive capacity fast enough to meet demand, and the speculators conflated the price increase in lithium with a shortage of lithium. There is no shortage of lithium, rather a shortage of lithium processing capability, and the industry is working very hard to increase productive capacity, which will fix this problem.
Our approach is opportunistic. We like to buy assets that are unloved by the market. While a distress asset purchase will guarantee more work, the low purchase price limits the downside price and offer good upside potential. For example, our recently acquired Black Fox complex was originally purchased by Primero Mining in 2014 for US$300 million along with the assumption of US$140 million in liabilities. Then they invested US$120 million bringing their total investment to US$560 million. We bought it for US$35 million, which was equivalent to paying 6 cents for every dollar they invested. It came with over 1 million ounces in resources, annual production of 40-50,000 ounces of gold however with a short mine life, an operating mill with excess capacity, numerous exploration targets and a US$190 million-dollar tax pool, which means we can shelter US$190 million of future profits.