- The Quiet Summer of 2011, and Honest Work
- Respectable Showing For the Diamond Sector at PDAC 2011
- PDAC 2011 – this March
- Promising Diamond Find by Metalex in Northern Ontario, Plus Grades from Chidliak and Movement at Renard
- Peregrine Finds 1.15 Carat Diamond at Chidliak
- Stornoway Diamond Corp. Works to Expand Resources at Renard Project
- 2010 Toronto Resource Investment Conference
- Newsworthy Week For Canadian Diamond Companies
- Different Types of Diamonds at Fort à la Corne
- Kimberlites and Diamonds of Western Canada
5034 AAD Aappaluttoq Aber Diamonds ABX ACS AEM Ag Agnico-Eagle Mines Agrium Alberta Alto Ventures Amarillo Amaruk AMEC Amerigo Archangel Diamond Archon Minerals Ltd. Arctic Arctic Star Diamond ARG Argentina Argyle Ashton Mining Canada Attawapiskat ATV ATW ATW Venture Corp. Au Australia AUY Avalon Rare Metals Avanti Mining Corp. Aviat AVL Baffin Island Barrick Bathurst Beluga BHP BHP Billiton Birch Mountains Bling Blue Note Mining Blue Pearl Cluster BN BRIC Buenaventura Buffalo Head Hills Bunder Burnstone Ventures Inc. BVE BVN Canada Candente Candle Lake Canterra carbonatite Caribou Castillian CCE Chariot Resources CHD Chidliak Chile Chris Jennings Chuck Fipke Churchill Churchill craton CL CLF Cliffs Co Codelco Coloured Gemstones Commerce Resources Contact Diamond Corporation copper CTM Cu Cullinan DDN DeBeers Diamond Diamondex Diamonds Diamonds North Dianor Diavik Diopside dividend DNT DO-27 DOR DSP Eastmain Resources Ekati El Teniente emerald EnCana Corp. ER EuroZinc Exotic Metals FALC FGE FGT First Nickel Inc. Fiskenaesset FNI FNV Forest Gate Fort a la Corne Foxtrot Franco-Nevada G Gahcho Gahcho Kue Gem Diamonds geologic terms glossary gold Goldcorp GPR Great Panther Resources Great Panther Silver Greenland Grib Grizzly Discoveries Inc. Gualcamayo Guanajuato Guaniamo GZD Harry Winston Hawthorne Gold Hearne HGC Hibou HUD Hudson Resources Hunter Exploration HW HWD IME In Indicator Minerals indium interview iron Jericho Jericho Diamond Mine Jigsaw K K-2 Kahuna Kennady Lake Killiq kimberlite Kinross KWG Kyle Lake Lac De Gras Las Aguilas lead Leadbetter Lesotho Letseng Li limestone lithium Lockerby LUC Lucara Lukoil LUN Lundin Mining Lynas Lynx Mapimi Marifil Mines Ltd. market hype MAT Matamec Exploration Inc. Metalex Ventures Mexico Mexivada MFM Mina El Carmen Mo molybdenum Monument Diamond Project Motapa Mothae Mountain Province Diamonds MPV MTC MTP MTX Muskox Kimberlite natural gas Nb NEM Neuqen Basin New Gold Newmont New Nadina Diamonds Ltd. NGD Ni NI 43-101 nickel niobium NMC NNA Noront NOT Notch Nunaminerals Nunavut oil Orion Otish Pascua Llama Pb PC Gold Pd PDAC Pedernal Peregrine Peregrine Diamonds Petra Diamonds PGD PGE PGM PKL placer platinum Pogo Mine potash Potash Corp. pre-feasibility PST003 Pt Punta Colorado Qavvik Qilaq QUA Quadra Mining QUC Quebec Quebect Quest Rare Metals Quest Uranium rare earth elements Rare Element Resources Raytech Metals Corp. Re REE Renard RES Restigouche rhenium Rio Colorado Rio Narcea Rio Tinto RSC RTP ruby San Antonio San Juan San Roque sapphire Saskatchewan SGF Shear Diamonds Shear Minerals Shore Gold silver SL Snap Lake Sola Resource Corp Soltoro SOQUEM Inc. SRM Star Stewart Blusson stockhouse.com Stornoway Stornoway Diamonds Strange Lake Strateco Resources SWY Ta TAH Tahera tantalum TCK.A TCK.B TCM Teck Cominco Terrane Metals Tesla TGX Thompson Creek Metals Thor Lake TIF Tiffany & Co. Topia Topia Mine Toronto Resource Investment Conference Triex True North Gems TRX Tsa Da Glisza Tuktu Tuktu-1 Tunerq tungsten Tuzo Type IIa U uranium VAA Vaaldiam Mining Inc. VALE-INCO Veladero Venezuela Victor WDO Wesdome Western Troy Capital Resources WRY WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. Yamana Gold Inc. YRI zinc Zn
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Posted by David
Last week, Stornoway Diamond Corporation released the results of their latest drilling program at their Renard project (part of the Foxtrot property) in central Quebec. The dimensions of three diamond-bearing kimberlite bodies were expanded beyond those expected by the previous models.
Renard 1, 3, 4, and 65 Models Expanded
Although the density of drill-holes is too low to properly resolve the bodies at depth at a resolution that is suitable to be deemed an indicated or even inferred resource under NI 43-101 standards, the upside is promising. Three drill-holes each were put into Renard 3, 4, and 65. These data increase the previously modeled dimensions of the kimberlite pipes. The maximum lower cut-off for Renard 3 was extended from the depth of 395m established in the existing NI 43-101 report to 439m. The same was done for Renard 4, going from 380m to 759m. No previous 43-101-compliant resource values existed for Renard 65, but drilling encountered kimberlite a a maximum vertical depth of 513m. One drill hole was also put into Renard 1 and further confirmed multiple lithologies and a maximum depth of 370m. The increase in tonnage for the project is not as large or as certain as with the reported increase in Renard 2 earlier this year, but it is substantial and unexpected (see above image of a geological model of R-4 with 3 drill-holes showing kimberlite outside of the modeled dimensions (PMD: potential mineral deposit).
Renard 65 (geological model above) stands apart from the other two bodies (R3 and 4) as it is entirely classified as PMD and cannot be included in the 43-101 feasibility study recently contracted out to SNC-Lavalin. R65 is quite large in terms of ore tonnage, but lower grade than other bodies. The body would potentially add to the mine life or throughput of ore at the mine as extra reserves, but not significantly affect overall mine grade or diamond valuation as it is believed to be one of the least economic bodies in the cluster. Renard 1 would be classified in the same group as 65. Also adding to the potential reserves at the future Quebec mine would be the 4+ km long Lynx dyke, and smaller Hibou dyke. However, the diamonds from these kimberlite dykes are typically more brownish in colour than the ones from the Renard pipes and thus have a lower average valuation (US$/c).
Other Projects Put on Hold
Stornoway’s increasing focus on Renard has left its other lower-stage targets on the back-burner. Aviat on the Melville peninsula in Nunavut is the next most promising after Renard. Though less-studied and containing smaller white diamonds, its high grade (~2c/t) and unknown extent holds significant potential. Completion of a mine at Renard should provide an income stream to fund the next necessary step of bulk sampling.
The only remaining project of relative significance held by Stornoway is its minority share in the Churchill kimberlite project operated by Shear Minerals. Although a portion of the project has attracted the attention of Rio Tinto, it appears to be doomed to languish as Shear Minerals has become preoccupied by its purchase of the Jericho mine and Stornoway’s lack of funds for non-priorities.
Coins Remaining in the Piggy Bank
As of its last quarterly report, the company had $14 million in cash. From this, Stornoway must fund its 50% share of the upcoming Renard mine feasibility study (the other half belongs to SOQUEM). A secondary study is in the works to examine bringing hydroelectric power lines into the camp from the north. If possible, attaching the mine to the electric grid would occur a few years into the mine-life. The earlier pre-feasibility study from over a year ago assumed on-site electric generation. Access to Quebec’s cheap hydroelectricity would significantly lower operating costs and avoid vulnerability to high oil prices.
Given that the third generation of Canadian diamond mines (Renard, Fort à la Corne, and maybe even Gahcho Kue) are coming on-line in the next few years, diamond stocks are rising. A half-decade of disinterest and bad luck (see Tahera and Jericho) is hopefully over, and investors: individual and institutional, will begin to see the value in the long wait for a diamond mine to reach production.
Disclaimer: The author holds shares of SWY and SRM. Relevant comments are welcome and encouraged. Spam comments will be deleted. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2010 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
The 2010 annual PDAC convention this week was resoundingly more vibrant and bustling than last year’s. The nice thing about commodity downturns is that they are often self-correcting given time. The excess of supply that leads to commodity price drops and mine closures also ceases mine development. With no new resources coming onto the pipeline, supply drops as existing deposits are tapped out. This drop in supply leads to an increase in the commodity price, beginning the cycle all over again.
This current resurgence is much to early to be mainly due to this process, lack of exploration typically takes years to manifest into resource shortages. Whatever the cause, the mood of exhibitors, investors, and geologists was significantly improved over 2009′s show. Though there are still many companies out there just hanging on, both those with quality and questionable properties.
Gold was still king of the commodities this year, unsurprising considering it has remained at ~$1100 for some time in spite of the predictions of certain pundits. Though keep in mind that price is in American dollars. Well-run gold producers such as Barrick, Goldcorp, and Wesdome, have been reporting steady and strong profits. The Wesdome booth at PDAC had some impressive display samples of quartz-vein ore containing visible gold mineralization from their Kiena mine. Although some producers are still struggling, e.g. Yamana.
The buzz about exotic metals such as yttrium, niobium, and the rare earth elements has died down a little since the excitement of last fall. Leading juniors in that field, such as Avalon and Matamec, were still well represented at the show. In terms of fundamentals, however, nothing has changed, our increased dependence on technologies is leading to a demand that will continue to ramp up with each passing year and the Chinese control virtually all production. Not a pretty picture from either an economic, strategic, or political view (for everyone but the Chinese that is).
Copper, nickel, and other base and ferrous metal prices have all climbed back up significantly. The earthquake in Chile barely caused a blip in copper prices (Chile produces about one third of the world’s copper), and metal producers like Amerigo and Lundin are starting to see their first real profits in over a year. Speaking with Amerigo reps at the PDAC, they predict a return of their one-vaunted dividend should copper prices hold close to their current levels.
The investment talks for the junior diamond sector saw increased attendance this year. The best was saved for the last for talks by Peregrine, Shear Minerals, Shore Gold, and Stornoway, discussing the most promising Canadian diamond projects and their various stages of development. Peregrine’s Chidliak project on Baffin Island continues to steal the spotlight with preliminary results from CH-6 that indicate the potential for the highest grade diamond find since A-154 South at Diavik in the 1990′s.
Chidliak is still many years from and possible mine. The Renard and Fort a la Corne deposits of Stornoway and Shore Gold, respectively, are each within five years of a potential mine. Last fall’s announcement by Stornoway regarding the expanded resource at Renard-2 is putting the company at odds with Shore Gold for the title of owner of Canada’s (and for that matter, the world) largest undeveloped diamond deposit (video interview with SWY founder Eira Thomas HERE). Shear Minerals, though somewhat stagnated by lack of funds, had returned a promising grade of 0.862 c/t from the Notch kimberlite in the Churchill property.
The repeated message from all diamond companies is that world diamond prices have recovered, and possibly then some. Unlike metals, getting firm numbers on world diamond demand and pricing is difficult, but some estimates put current diamond prices as high as 25% over those of pre-crash 2008. With the recovery as of yet incomplete, this could spell a significant jump in share prices for quality diamond stocks over the next 12 months.
Disclaimer: The author holds shares of SWY, YRI, SRM, ARG, and LUN. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2010 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
The recent plea from the Dubai sovereign wealth fund, Dubai World, for a moratorium on payments to their $59 billion (USD) debt underscores that there are still plenty of skeletons in the closet to be found as the world economy races and stalls back to recovery. Sometimes this engine even goes backwards for a bit in the face of surprising news such as this.
Is this revelation really so surprising? Perhaps in the particular details and that it involves a supposedly wealthy country backed by decades of high oil production revenues. Or at least it was before it invested a good bit of that money to finance the hyper-development of a previously sleepy Arabian emirate. However, it is not surprising that large negative developments continue to come to light as the financial systems recover and consolidate. It took many years of unchecked greed and financial short-sightedness to create the crisis (crises?) that started in 2007. It is only logical that it will be a few years until we are free of this baggage.
What does this mean for commodities? The “good times” are gone and many investors/developers now have to deal with an annoying factor known as “reality” when they are interpreting the market, supply/demand trends, and so forth.
This whole topic is too big for one article and it would be redundant, not to mention exhausting, to focus on an all-encompassing review of things as they stand and look to do so in the future. Following the news of Dubai World’s troubles made me think of all the discretionary luxury goods (haute couture, man-made islands shaped-like things, and particularly jewellery) that are disproportionately consumed by such a rather small population, and how that allegory can be expanded to the world at large.
Are those we previously thought to be ultra-rich truly immune to economic fluctuations? It really is a relative matter, but it appears that the 2007-2009 meltdown(s) has (have) even touched those we thought to be dependable for the consumption of commodities of limited practicality. Diamonds (and other gems) are perhaps the best example of such an item. They can be synthesized easily now for aesthetic and industrial purposes, leaving natural diamonds of no particular commercial use aside from vanity and symbolism.
However, it is the rarity, history, and symbolism/mystique surrounding natural diamonds that makes them so sought after, even in troubled economic times such as now.
This recent reprieve in the markets over the past six months has been accompanied by bursts of positive news releases from a previously lacklustre Canadian diamond exploration sector. This recovery was second to only that seen by rare earth metals in the past few months.
Peregrine First Out of the Gate
The major catalyst for this renewed interest in diamond properties in 2009 was the Chidliak discovery on Baffin Island. Although the most recent news from Peregrine (and JV partner BHP Billiton) was less than stellar compared to previous developments, the Chidliak-Qilaq project is the first diamondiferous kimberlite discovery in Canada in years to hold significant economic potential. PGD stock has relaxed from its surprising highs in September-October stable levels at well over $1. The nature of the Chidliak find was covered in an earlier article back in March. What is interesting in recent months is the lag time for the market to acknowledge this find: about six months since its first real publicity at a sparsely attended PDAC session on diamond exploration.
Shore Pushes Onwards
Two other major players in the Canadian diamond junior sector have seen stock jumps more closely tied to news releases. Shore Gold released its most recent NI 43-101 complaint report concerning the Orion South kimberlite body in the Fort a la Corne (FalC) JV project with Newmont in Saskatchewan (not to be confused with the adjacent Star property wholly owned by SGF). This technical report and resource estimate is lengthy at 108 pages, as it should be considering the complex geology found in the FalC pipe compared to some other Canadian kimberlites (e.g. Snap Lake, Lynx). The bulk of the geological characteristics of the FalC kimberlites were covered in an earlier KIM Report article. The main issues indicated with that article over a year ago was for SGF to up their average diamond valuations due to grades well below 1 ct/t (100 cpht), and to give a reasonable estimate of the total mining cost per ton. The proximity of local communities and their infrastructure (power, roads, etc.) will bring costs down well below those of Arctic projects. But by how much? P&E Mining Consultants do a very thorough job of considering all technical aspects of the most promising body of the 70+ in the FalC project.
SGF and NEM commissioned WWW International Diamond Consultants Ltd. to evaluate the diamonds recovered from underground and LDDH samples. 2320.2 c was priced at $199495 (US), or $86/c (using the March 11 2008 pricing). The most promising units of the Orion South kimberlite: EJF and P-2 had price ranges of $100-166/c and $91-123/c, respectively. Diamonds from other lithologies of Orion South have lower valuations. P&E optimistically use the high end values for their modelling of the resource. This is significantly lower than the $225/c valuation at Star, located 2.5 km to the SE. Grades range from 0.128-0.147c/t depending on the case used. Tonnage (minimum case) is 76.8 Mt indicated and 86.3 Mt inferred.
The mining plan for Orion South suggests an open pit. Slope of the pit wall would be 30º for the ore/waste rock and 18º for the overburden due to its unconsolidated nature.
Mining costs are hard to put together from just reading the report. It assumes that the exchange rate will be US$0.85/CAD$. Stripping costs for the overburden (glacial till) will be $1/t overburden, with mining, processing, and general/administrative costs pegged at $6.54/t kimberlite. Thus using the absolute minimum values SGF and NEM look to clear about $4/t (rough estimate for overburden clearance) from Orion. Though should aspects such as US-CAD exchange rates, rough diamond prices, and/or fuel prices strongly fluctuate, this number could go much higher or lower. The key assumption being made here -as with all deposits, is that the modelled resource accurately reflects the real resource in the ground closely enough that it remains economic. The major difficulty with the FalC kimberlites is that their petrological/lithological heterogeneity (i.e. changes in diamond grade throughout zones in the kimberlite body) is difficult to pin down. The overall low grade of the pipe and mediocre diamond valuation (compared to other pipes with grades <0.5c/t) leaves little room for mistakes, mistakes that SGF and NEM have spent years and millions of dollars to avoid.
At its conclusion the Orion South/Star project requires a further $4.5 million to bring things to the feasibility stage, not all that much compared to the aggregate amount spent on developing the FalC kimberlites since their discovery in the late 1980s.
Last, But Not Least
The second major junior in the Canadian sector is Stornoway. This has followed the trend set by Peregrine and then Shore Gold in a resurgent Canadian diamond exploration sector. First reporting 4x the original tonnage for the Renard-2 kimberlite property in early October and then expanding on that find this month by reporting revised numbers for entire Foxtrot (Renard, Lynx, and Hibou bodies) property (aka the Renard Diamond Project) that effectively triple the contained carats compared to estimates published last year. 23.0 Mc are indicated and 13.3 Mc are inferred with further upside as some bodies remain not fully studied. Grades at Renard-2 for indicated (1.03 c/t) and inferred (1.2 c/t) resources are up 27% and 39% respectively.
There is a bit of cloud to this silver lining though in that diamond valuations from Renard-2 and -3 are down 3% to US$117/c and for Lynx down 14% to $57/c (“Base Case” estimates). The NI 43-101 compliant technical report covering this release will be out in less than 45 days.
Considering these developments it is curious if any other diamond juniors will be lucky enough to come across some positive news in order to be next in line to capitalize on this new, but fragile, enthusiasm. With the tax-loss selling season approaching, that enthusiasm is fragile indeed.
Disclaimer: The author owns 4000 shares of SWY. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
Now that commodities have recovered slightly and the stock indexes appear to be climbing out of the financial hole that was March 2009, investors – both institutional and individual, appear to be breathing some life into the mining juniors that have been so beaten down. The ones that remain solvent anyways.
On the diamond front, things are pretty quiet. Gold and silver, followed by base metals, have been attracting most of the press in regards to this resurgence. The return of capital to the diamond industry has been pretty subdued. However, this is not to say that is has been forgotten.
An example is with Harry Winston Diamond Corp. that has seen is share price double to about $7/share in the past couple of months when some smart investors thought it may not be a bad idea to hold share in one of the highest grade gem diamond mines in the world (their retail arm notwithstanding). Kinross had the right idea when it acquired a 19.9% stake in the company during the lows of March.
Motapa Diamonds Inc., a junior diamond explorer in Lesotho has also doubled since the New Year as it is in the process of being acquired by Lucara Diamond Corp. (TSX.V-LUC). Their Mothae project draws many parallels with that of the nearby Letseng mine, well-know for its relatively abundant diamonds of exceptional size and quality (about 20c).
Gearing Up For a Recovery
The Canadian exploration front has been even more low-key. The only significant new find has been Peregrine Diamond’s Chidliak property on southern Baffin Island as discussed in a previous article. Other juniors are conserving their cash and focusing on their best projects. Stornoway recently announced that it would commence further drilling on their Renard project to prove up their case for a mine there. The only other project they are looking at now is the Aviat kimberlite complex on the Melville Peninsula in Nunavut having gotten some promising number from samples taken there last year. Smaller companies are having to conduct private placements at still-low share prices in order to pay for critical work on their properties. Such is the case with Dianor Resources issuing shares at $0.10 to pay in part for a 50 000 t bulk sample at their diamond-bearing Leadbetter conglomerate property near Wawa, Ontario.
Stagnation of Diamond Prospecting in Canada
Comparatively speaking, other companies have not had it so rosy. Shear Minerals is looking at a dearth of funding for its main project: Churchill after its partner, Stornoway, decided not to participate in the recent exploration season in order to fund the abovementioned projects. Like many other companies that previously had diamonds as their sole focus, Diamonds North has been looking at the potential for metals on its properties in the Arctic after some samples this winter showed an unexpected scarcity of diamonds. To round things off, Shore Gold, a classic punching-bag/favourite for many diamond investors is still trying to figure out how to reconcile low grades with ~100m of glacial overburden atop their kimberlites in Saskatchewan. Although they did recover a 7.99 c diamond from a mini-bulk sample recently taken by large diameter drilling to add to their promising repertoire of large diamonds found in the Fort a la Corne cluster. A more thorough discussion of the Fort a la Corne kimberlites can be found here.
Choose Your Partners Wisely
A third set of companies with promising properties appear to be in limbo. Mountain Province Diamonds Inc. is still at loggerheads with partner De Beers over the timeline from the rich Gahcho Kue diamond deposit in the Northwest Territories in spite of an updated mineral resource estimate released in late May. DeBeers is having a headache of its own through its majority holding of thinly-traded Archangel Diamonds Corp. with continued legal struggles with Russian companies (chiefly LUKoil) over the massive Grib diamond deposit in northwest Russia. De Beers, like many other companies seeking to do business in Russia, is learning that when you get into bed with Ivan (particularly on his turf); he usually ends up on top.
Recovery is a long way away. Especially in the diamond sector as it was already lagging near the tail end of the resource bubble that popped last year. But as with panning for diamonds, the companies with little weight and substance will be washed away by the financial currents and the gems will be left behind.
Disclaimer: The author owns shares in HW, SWY, and SRM. This article is based on the personal opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
During this seemingly never-ending drop in equity prices, many analysts are recommending that now is the time to buy stocks as so many solid companies are trading at deep discounts. But what companies does one invest in currently? In terms of resource stocks, most are trading at 70-90% below their stock price last winter. Metal prices have yet to properly recover and most producers have either gone to great lengths in cutting production costs or have shut down their operations. Explorers have also strongly cut back on projects for 2009 or have gone into “hibernation mode” in an effort to preserve their remaining cash until this crisis abates and future private placements can be made.
There are some case examples for optimism however: Harry Winston recently reported net earnings of $1.17/share for Q3 compared to loss of $0.13/share in the previous year’s quarter. Retail jewellery sales offset decreased earnings from sales of rough diamonds due to decreased production resulting from grade variation in the main kimberlite pipe at the Diavik mine: A-154 South. Another case is the small-cap silver producer Great Panther Resources, mentioned in an earlier case study article, that has managed to reduce their operating costs from about $11/oz. to $7.40/oz. in the face of <$10/oz. silver (although we have seen a bit of recovery in the metals over the course of the week). However, news of this was later added to by the announcement of dilution in the form of a $2.7 million private placement. On the exploration end, Shear Minerals continues to discover more kimberlites with high diamond counts on its Churchill property. But, as with Great Panther, this was also followed by the announcement by Shear of a $1.18 million private placement and thus shareholders would see further dilution. In the meantime, Shear’s JV partner at Churchill, Stornoway Diamond Corp. has decided to focus the bulk of its resources into developing its Renard property into a mine. Although its Aviat project on the Melville Peninsula is a definite target for further exploration in 2009. True North Gems is preparing its Aappaluttoq ruby project in Greenland for mine permitting. This will allow them to sell the large stockpile of gems they have acquired from sampling over the past few years. Diamonds North, buoyed by high diamond counts from some of their kimberlites this year, is planning for a modest exploration program in 2009 and is currently working on finishing this year’s mini-bulk sampling program. There are many other companies like those aforementioned that are meeting or exceeding their stated goals. Positive news releases (e.g. this one), however, are promptly ignored by the market -or at least the retail investors.
An unavoidable fact is that the manufacturing and housing sectors are in a tight retraction worldwide. Commodities used in these fields: base metals, iron, aluminum, petroleum, and even some precious metals (silver, PGEs) will continue to see lessened demand as consumers disappear. Many analysts suggest that the US dollar is due for a significant collapse due to the variety of debts piled on America by the Bush government. Traditionally, this would cause investors to flock to precious metals (primarily gold) and other forms of solid investments (diamonds, other rare gemstones, etc.) in order to preserve their capital until the malaise has passed. This bodes well for companies mining and exploring for these commodities. Another silver lining to this recession is that low oil prices have given miners and explorers a break in operating costs via cheaper fuel.
The real challenge is in determining which of these companies will survive the downturn until they can start to benefit from increased demand. Factors to look for are a strong treasury, a demonstrated history of cutting costs, a willingness to open new revenue streams, and management ownership. Management must make serious decisions on whether to conserve cash and limit exploration activities or to spend to continue adding value to their properties. Often the latter involves offering new shares at the currently extremely low market prices in order to raise that cash as banks loans are not forthcoming.
Currently, there are excellent opportunities for investment in mining and exploration stocks. In particular, there is potential in the diamonds sector as it was already undervalued prior to the current crisis and diamond prices are more firm than that of other commodities. A final factor to consider is that tax-loss selling at the end of this year will result in further devaluation of many companies, adding to the allure for bargain hunters. For those who actually have cash left to invest at this point, a long term (3-5 yrs) outlook is mandatory. Those who do their homework and invest in a non-reactionary fashion will definitely benefit when this bear turns into a bull.
Disclaimer: The author holds 20 shares of HW, 4000 of SWY, 500 of SRM, 500 of GPR, and 1000 of TGX., most of which were bought at much higher prices than current. This article is based on the opinion and experience of the author. Please do your own due diligence when investing.
Posted by David
Recent market activity, to be conservative, has been devastating to resource stocks. Over the past six months, junior mining/exploration companies have been hit hard with up to 80% depreciation in their share prices. Many of these have slid strongly in spite of what would be considered by many to be positive news releases: financing obtained, higher than expected grade, large extensions of mineralized zones, etc.
Diamond stocks in particular continue to be a source of scorn for retail investors. Gone are the days seen in the 90′s and early 00′s where diamond companies were the darlings of the Canadian mining sector. However, recent financial market woes and investor panic do not change the fact that many of these companies hold properties with strong upside for the presence of a economic diamond deposit.
Two companies that appear to hold such projects, despite seeing their share prices drop over 70% in the past year or so, are Shear Minerals and Stornoway Diamonds. Both of these companies jointly operate the Churchill Project near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
This project has been described in earlier articles posted on the KIM Report, but the discovery of a new kimberlite body, named “Killiq”, on the property this season has expanded the potential for a significant diamond mine in the area. This kimberlite was found during RC drilling of a target established by following the G10 garnet-dominated indicator mineral train in the Sedna corridor and geophysics. Churchill has already been established as a leader in diamond developments with the evaluation of the large Kahuna kimberlite dyke. Killiq is of note as it is very similar petrologically to the PST kimberlite also on the property that has an established grade of 2.18 c/t. Petrologically, characteristics that PST and Killiq both share include large olivine macrocrysts, purple-red pyropes, and blue-green phlogopite mica.
Shear Minerals, the project operator and majority interest holder, has sent heavy mineral concentrate from Killiq for chemical analysis. If any of the garnets in the concentrate have high Cr and low Ca contents like the G10 garnets in the till samples that led to the drilling, then there is significant potential for diamond.
This is one of nine kimberlites discovered this field season at Churchill, and is one of two, alongside the Kahuna breccia discovery, that was found to have significant petrological similarity to other pipes on the property with high diamond grades. The Kahuna breccia is interesting as it appears to be an extension of the Kahuna hypabyssal dyke, but it is of explosive, rather than magmatic nature.
Other activity that has occurred with Churchill include a mini-bulk sample of 26.1 t (wet) from the Notch kimberlite for an initial assessment of diamond content and quality for stones >0.86 mm in diameter. Further till sampling programs and geophysical (gravity, magnetic, etc.) surveys are ongoing.
In total there are 88 known kimberlite occurrences on the property with many at or beyond the mini-bulk sampling stage.
Stornoway has another property (90% owned) at the advanced exploration stage with Aviat on the Melville Peninsula in eastern Nunavut. Earlier this year, a 20.6 t mini-bulk sample from AV267 sheet, the largest body on the property, returned a grade of 1.62 c/t including a 3.64 c white gem. A larger bulk sample of 202 t is currently being processed with results expected by the end of the year. There are ten other kimberlite occurrences at Aviat discovered so far. Although some of these bodies may be separate outcrops of the same. All of the Aviat bodies are similar in petrology and diamond content (so far) and are of 535 Ma (Cambrian) age.
An obscure property on the sidelines a relatively short time ago, the high diamond grades coming out of Aviat have made it approach (and potentially exceed) the Churchill project in terms of importance.
Of course, all of these developments are being overshadowed to some degree by the impending pre-feasibility report on the Renard kimberlites. Part of the Foxtrot property that includes the Lynx and Hibou dykes as well, Renard already has had detailed diamond tonnage and valuation work done. Investor relations at Stornoway has acknowledged that there have been numerous delays in releasing the report, and not all of them related to the project. Peregrine Diamonds and Shore Gold have also employed AMEC, the same firm used by Stornoway to get their studies done, and this has resulted in a backlog. The revised date is now sometime is the later half of October. It will include the resource calculation and the economic study with an aim to be understandable to the non-expert investor. Unsurprisingly, the company remains optimistic that the report will allow them to move to the feasibility stage.
All of this has been accompanied by a drop in stock price from almost $0.90 to the $0.25 level. Brief reversals in the downward trend have been provided by the encouraging diamond valuations for Renard last fall (over $100/c) and an arrangement with the company’s creditors to eliminate its outstanding debt. However, current market pressures have kept this stock, along with all others in the sector, down.
Diamond companies and investors are desperate for a catalyst that will stop the haemorrhaging in the sector. Much of this will occur when (if?) the financial sector is done cutting out the dead wood, the rest will have to come from the companies themselves in the form of breakthrough news. Perhaps the impending pre-feasibility study for Renard will do that for Stornoway.
Posted by David
Stornoway Diamond Corp. (TSX-SWY) saw a 24.14% jump in stock price today, up seven cents to $0.36/share. The rise followed the resumption of trading following a halt this morning due to a financing-related news release. SWY reported that they have received $22 million from a private placement of 24,444,444 common shares at ninety cents a share. This is a premium of 195% on top of the opening price of $0.305 today. The participants in the private placement are Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (TSX-AEM) and Lorito Holdings Ltd. This $22 million will go to pay off debt in the form of debentures held by AEM and Lorito. AEM is already a significant shareholder of SWY, and with this transaction they will hold 17.6% of the outstanding shares. After the completion of this transaction, SWY will be debt-free.
This transaction is something of a coup in the current market. Juniors have been struggling to obtain funds to develop their projects and pay off debts. The credit market has been mostly deaf and blind to the woes of these companies as many lenders are themselves finding it a struggle to remain solvent. For a mining and exploration junior to pull off a private placement at a pre-subprime crisis share price is something of a shock (albeit a pleasant one) to investors and analysts who have become used to seeing the market cap of companies such as SWY slide by fifty to eighty percent. By offering equity to pay off its debts, SWY has managed to find a creative alternative to solving its cash problems in a bear market. The main upside here is that the dilution of the stock is one third of that if SWY were to issue stock at market price.
Now with balanced books, SWY faces only one major and immediate hurdle – to finance the construction of a diamond mine on their Foxtrot property in Quebec. This project, focusing mainly on the Renard kimberlite pipes, but also the Lynx and Hibou kimberlite dykes nearby, is joint owned 50/50 with SOQUEM and is fully described in an earlier article. SWY’s share of the mine construction costs will likely be over $100 million. The actual numbers are due out in September with the pre-feasibility study. The report was initially due this summer, but similar projects submitted earlier by Peregrine and Shore Gold tied up AMEC, the company contracted to conduct the study, until recently. Should the report be positive, as the geology and current diamond prices suggest, a significant amount of capital investment must be made to bring in the needed infrastructure for a mine. SWY will have to carry at least 50% of these costs.
Immediate of these costs is road access. Renard will not be an arctic diamond mine, dependent on airlifts and unpredictable ice roads for supply, but rather a site accessible by land year round. SWY is in talks with Western Troy Capital Resources Inc. (TSX.V-WRY), Strateco Resources Inc. (TSX-RSC), and Eastmain Resources Inc. (TSX-ER) – other mineral/metal exploration companies with projects in the Otish Mountains, local communities, and the Quebec government to build the “Route Monts Otish”. This partnership would provide strong benefits for all parties involved by sharing the cost of construction. SWY will need to bring September’s report to the table when the parties decide who pays what share of the road costs. It is also possible that the construction will bring in electricity service as well, further reducing the large bill SWY faces.
After September, SWY will have to come to a decision on how to fund the mine. Even if the Quebec government pays its full 50% share and the aforementioned road plan comes through, the cost to SWY will be well into the tens of millions of dollars. The company has a number of options to consider in obtaining the cash necessary to build the mine:
(1) They can go the traditional route and get financing from credit institutions. If the credit market simmers down by the winter this may be a possibility. Factors that would attract a lender are that the company has settled its accounts, the Foxtrot property has high and fairly well established diamond potential, and the company has many other promising secondary properties such as Aviat and Churchill (the latter a JV with Shear Minerals).
(2) Future private placements can be made. This will dilute the stock, but by how much is dependent on how the share price is doing at the time of issue. If today’s rise in share price is any indication, a positive report in September may be the catalyst investors need to return the company to the ~$1.00 level. In addition, management has established that they possess some expertise in brokering strong deals with large investment players (Rio Tinto is another major shareholder, with ~11% of the company).
(3) The company may bring in a third party to purchase a portion of their share in exchange for funding most of SWY’s costs a la the Franco-Nevada strategy.
(4) Interested parties could be sold secondary assets in exchange for cash to fund the mine. In addition to the aforementioned Aviat and Churchill projects, SWY holds promising advanced and reconnaissance stage projects in Nunavut, Ontario, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
It is likely the company will use a mix involving one, some, or even all of the above options to in order to proceed with construction.
Given that Quebec is regularly acclaimed as one of the top mining-friendly provinces in Canada, and that the province has a direct stake in the project, there seems to be fewer speedbumps on the road to Renard. Management with have to use every means at their disposal in order to navigate markets wracked with investor apathy towards diamond players.
Disclaimer: The author holds 2000 shares of SWY. This article is based on the personal opinion and experience of the author. Please do your own due diligence when investing.