Australian prospector goes Hollywood as mining bust bites

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Movie making has joined pursuits such as egg farming, the growing of medical marijuana and beauty products as another way for struggling mining companies to weather one of the industry's worst downturns in decades.

Australian prospector Ed Mead believes endless hours spent watching films while stuck in remote areas waiting to strike the mother lode gives him on-the-job-training to be involved in movies.

This coupled with the collapse of the mining industry, as markets drown in a glut of oil, copper and other commodities, led Mead, managing director of Artemis Resources, to Hollywood in search of a blockbuster.

Artemis this week signed a contract with independent production company Go2Sho Inc to help finance Tango Down, a military action film starring James C. Burns, the lead actor in the high-grossing Call Of Duty Black Ops 1 and 2 films.

"When times are good, people go to the movies and when times are bad people go to the movies," says Mead. "This couldn't be more different than the cyclical resources industry." The most successful miner to move to the silver screen is Robert Friedland, who made billions of dollars after discovering some of the world's biggest nickel and copper deposits.

Friedland's Ivanhoe Pictures has established a four-year multi-picture co-financing pact with Fox International Productions to produce local-language films in India, Korea, China, Japan and Taiwan. "We needed to cast a wide net," said Mead.

"Every time you look, the copper, nickel, iron ore or oil and gas prices are going down. People just aren't interested," he said. "And my career in oil and gas exploration and mining means I've spent a lot of time watching movies while waiting for something to happen, so I guess that qualifies as experience in how that business works," Mead said.

While Meade said Artemis would remain focused on finding gold and other metals, he is not alone in looking for alternative sources for revenue. "Trying to raise money for exploration is next to impossible," Mead said.

According to a report by Deloitte, capital continues to flee the small mining industry.

Brazil's All Ore Mineração SA decided to enter the cosmetics and hair-care markets by buying Sweet Distribuidora, also known as SweetHair, in an all-share deal. The company, renamed Sweet Cosméticos, hopes to sell beauty products developed using biotechnology and nanotechnology.

More recently, the TSX Venture-listed Sabre Graphite bought DraftTeam, a website offering fantasy sports games. It has since changed its name to DraftTeam Daily Fantasy Sports Corp , while Australian gold explorer Erin Resources changed its name to MGC Pharmaceuticals after venturing into medical marijuana.