Introducing the people behind Explorado

Andre is a natural resource economist by training and has worked for 16 years on the development of the mining industry in the 'global South'. His work includes extensive on the ground experience in Africa, the Balkans, Mongolia and Afghanistan. He has worked as mining sector specialist for the World Bank, GIZ of Germany, and a number of governments as mining sector advisor. At present, he works for an EU body on developing sourcing strategies and building partnership networks for critical raw materials supply for European industry.  


Due to his work, he has extensive experience with the Junior Mining sector and started investing in this industry in 2015. He has pulled together his knowledge and wrote the first German-language guidebook for investors in this sector in 2018.  


In addition, he has authored and co-authored several articles and World Bank Reports on mining sector development in developing countries, and on mining-related investment opportunities, including on the exploration industry. 

He is a public speaker and appeared for instance during the biggest mining congress in Africa, the MINING INDABA, as well as at the Raw Materials Week that is hosted by the EU annually in Brussels.  

 

MEET THE FOUNDER

You're in good company

André was and is passionate about combining his work with travel into the field, and is curious about how the earth is forming mineral deposits. This has led him to pursue a degree in gemology as well, and saw hin strall around a few exotic destinations looking for gemstones. Having worked on the exploration industry for many years, in 2015 he has decided to invest into mining juniors himself. After some successes, he worked out what was behind a successful exploration project. With Explorado, he is offering his knowledge to a wide public

Interview: Why mining? And how did this result in founding Explorado? A story with a few turningpoints

The early days

Q: You were born in Upper Bavaria. A nice location for sure, but not the natural breeding ground for the mining industry.

Andre Ufer: A pretty part of the World. It is better known for its mountains and for winter sports. But in fact, we had a spectacular molybdaenum mine until the 1940s at about 7,000 feet, in the middle of a mountain range. But to be honest, that did not take too much of my interest when I was young.

Andre Ufer at the Mining Indaba Conferenec 2023

Andre Ufer at the Mining Indaba Conference 2023

Source: The Green Economy Journal

Mining coming the way

Q: But instead?

AU: Normal things. Playing football and playing PC games

Q: So, when did mining come to your mind?

AU: When I was a student and looking for specialization in my field of study. As a development economist, you look at things that influence the economic growth paths of countries. And I became intrigued by natural resources.

Q: Why was that?

AU: Because it's controvers. One the one hand, you have these riches below the surface, but a lot of poverty above - at least in a number of resource-rich countries. I wanted to understand these issues, and help to improve this relationship

Professional life

Discussing smuggling and illegal exports of diamonds with security personel in Liberia (2021)

Q: So you went to the World Bank.

AU: Yes; but I have to say, it took a while. For an development economist, this is one of the best jobs you can get. Competition is fierce. So you need to be persistent and...a bit patient.

Q: What did you do when you finally got the entry ticket?

AU: I was lucky to be able to do what I wanted: I was working on projects to build up a more development-oriented mining industry in poor countries. Often, these were places that had experienced civil war or persistent turmoil. And in such countries, the mining industry was usually the first engine of income. And of jobs. So we needed to create the right conditions for mining to kick in.  

With a team of Afghan geologists and Chinese engineers on the site of a planned Chinese copper mine in Afghanistan

Exploring the exploration industry

Q: Some would argue this is becaue of the minerals and the mines. 

AU: That is worth a discussion. But you can't just blame geology. It is always people above the ground who make the right or wrong decisions. Countries like Chile, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia etc. managed much better to use their natural wealth for increasing prosperity.

Q: Where did the exploration industry get in here?

AU: Well, these were the guys we wanted to have in order to start or re-start the industry. Specifically companies from Canada and Australia, who usually managed to acquire capital, and who played by the rules in terms of social and environmental standards.  

Q: What countries do we talk about?

AU: Places like Liberia or Sierra Leone, or Guinea or the Central African Republic for that matter. All of them highly instable, but some like Guinea have world-class resources. Guinea for instance is one of the biggest sources for bauxite, which in turn is the main ingredient to produce aluminium. But Burundi, Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria. And I spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, which has everything in terms of minerals, but unfortunately nothing in terms of stability and prosperity.

An old mining shaft in Mongolia. Looking into questionable mining operations was also part of the job

Q: So these were you closest partners?

AU: Kind of; the most reliable ones for sure. So if you plan to do something with an industry, i.e. grow the industry and stabilize the countries' incomes, you need to get a good understanding what these folks are up to. So I worked myself into this industry. I wanted to really understand it. And I became more and more fsacinated. What an adventurous business. I met field geologists that worked themselves across Afghanistan, in small team. In the middle of the war.

Q: When then did you decide to invest in exploration?

AU: Quite early on. I was paid well, so I could set aside some funds, and I just tried it. Based on luck in the beginning, but the more I understood the industry, the more rational my decisions became.

Q: Any success?

AU: Yes. This is the reason why I sticked to the field. The gains you can make are insane. But it was a process. Because you really need to understand the industry, and the particular company, and the particular project. If all come together well, you can get ten times the return as compared to your original investment. And since this will be based on your own comprehension of a project, it is also very rewarding. It doesn't feel like something you got from gambling, but a reward based on your smartness.

Enter Explorado

Q: And founding Explorado then became a logical step?

AU: Yeah well....you see, I found it interesting that you have such an exiting investment opportunity out there, but no real centralized source that teaches people the 'How to'. Why was that? In any case, I was sure I spotted a gap, and I started to develop a product. A teaching product in this case. And while Explorado exists now, I will continue to spot and develop more learning opportunities.

André (left) during a panel speech at a mining & investment conference


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