VENEZUELA: Iron Mountain

At an old Spanish hacienda near the Orinoco River, a U.S. Steel Corp. engineer named Folke Kihlstedt slowly pushed a stereoscopic viewer over some three-dimensional aerial photographs. A long, low, narrow mountain seemed to spring out of the paper toward him. To his trained eye, the vegetation, watercourses and the hues of the earth were meaningful. "That could be iron ore," he decided.

At dawn, a week later, "Kihl" Kihlstedt jeeped 60 miles south, over chaparral-covered sand, amidst flapping egrets, toward the low mountain. Next morning he climbed 1,600 feet to the top. The view filled him with awe. The rust-colored...

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