Saint John — An innovative business promising huge rewards to the province has filed for bankruptcy protection. Maritime Alchemy, a small technology startup located in uptown Saint John, dashed the hopes of its investors by not delivering on its key value proposition. Having failed in its pursuit of a technical process for turning lead into gold, the province is now liable for millions in loan guarantees from successive provincial governments.
“We are very disappointed with our lack of success,” said company president Deloret LePlomb. “We thought we were on our way to the end of the rainbow, but instead our business plan went over like… well, like a lead balloon. We were never able to strike gold, so to speak, in our experiments and unfortunately it has led us to insolvency.”
The pursuit of a process that will transform base metals to precious metals has a history dating back hundreds of years. Alchemists who toiled away on this problem prior to the 20th century were limited by the undiscovered knowledge of the atom and periodic table. But since then, many modern experimental approaches have been undertaken to create gold from base metals with very mixed results.
Over the past 10 years, the provincial governments have guaranteed several loans to Maritime Alchemy. This latest failure adds to the list of business ventures supported with public money that have turned sour, leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab. Some notable cases of failed ventures supported by public money over the past decade include Atcon, Atlantic Yarns and Industrial Rail. Most recently, on Sept. 29 Atlantic Hydrogen filed for bankruptcy protection when their efforts to separate carbon from natural gas blew up.
Since 2006, the Graham and Alward governments guaranteed loans worth over $20 million on Maritime Alchemy’s behalf. The government’s latest business venture, the creation of a line of solid-gold Bricklin cars, depended on the success of Maritime Alchemy’s efforts. MA’s total collapse has now filled those luxurious dreams full of hot lead.
“We worked for years on this problem with increasingly wild and imaginative ideas,” lamented LePlomb. “Only recently has it become clear that our entire staff has severe lead poisoning, and we’ve been hallucinating, aggressive and delirious for a very long time. Also, very very constipated. Unfortunately, it’s time to for us to literally ‘get the lead out’ and walk away.”