- 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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Promising Diamond Find by Metalex in Northern Ontario, Plus Grades from Chidliak and Movement at Renard
Posted by David
High Counts from the James Bay Lowlands
Metalex Ventures Ltd. reported recovery of 800+ relatively coarse (0.425-0.85 mm) diamonds in part of a RC drill sample from the T1 kimberlite in the James Bay lowlands. The kimberlite is part of the Kyle Lake project and is 94.2% owned by MTX and 5.8% owned by Arctic Star Diamond Corp.: TSX-ADD.
The Kyle Lake project is near the ” Ring of Fire” chromium and PGE metals region of northern Ontario. This region has been the focus of exploration by companies such as Cliffs Natural Recources (NYSE-CLF), Noront Resources Ltd (TSX.V-NOT), and KWG Resources Inc (TSX.V-KWG). Although the region has been the focus for diamond exploration since the 1990′s and is home to De Beers’ Victor (Attawapiskat) diamond mine.
What is interesting aside from the high number of coarse diamonds is that it came from a small section of the T1 kimberlite: 138-153 m depth. The company is awaiting detailed results, particularly on analysis of the coarser (>0.85mm) portions of the sample. Complete diamond counts will be released when all samples from the hole have been processed.
As a bit of speculation, that this hole is RC could mean that the true diamond distribution of this zone in the kimberlite could be coarser than what is seen in this sample. This is due to the fact that diamond breakage is rather high in RC drill-hole samples. The mechanics of the process is such that the drill bit: usually tri-cone or drag-bit, and the circulation process is quite rough on the hard, yet brittle diamonds. This is compared to traditional diamond drill core sampling followed by caustic fusion that typically has better preservation of large stones. The advantages to RC drilling is that it is far cheaper and often faster.
Investors should keep in mind that it is really the two factors of diamond valuation and diamond grade, and not diamond counts, that determine the economics of a diamond mine. In addition to working on the final results from the T1 kimberlite, MTX is also having a bulk sample from the nearby U2 pipe assessed.
Diamond Grade News Out of Chidliak
Yesterday morning, Peregrine Diamonds Ltd. released that they had determined a grade of 1.04 c/t from their mini-bulk sample of the CH-7 kimberlite from the Chidliak property. The 47.2 t (dry) sample returned 49.07 c of stones larger than 0.85 mm. The largest three diamond crystals were 6.53, 2.18, and 1.24 c. The sample was collected by trenching the kimberlite outcrop to a depth of 2 m.
Eric Friedland, CEO, is quoted in the press release: “We are pleased to see a grade of one carat per tonne and a population of gem quality diamonds in this mini-bulk sample from CH-7, results that certainly justify a large bulk sample of this pipe and are another illustration of the excellent potential forChidliak to host a diamond mine. We now have five kimberlites with economic potential in Arctic settings at Chidliak, and four of those are clustered within an area that has only an eight kilometre radius: CH-1, CH-6, CH-7 and CH-31. We hope to add to this growing list of potentially economic kimberlites as more microdiamond results from the 34 kimberlites discovered this year are received. As we await all the results from the 2010 exploration programme, including a 14 tonne sample collected from CH-6, we are completing our 2011 exploration strategy which will entail the further evaluation of known kimberlites with economic potential, including the planning for larger bulk samples, as well as the discovery of more diamondiferous pipes starting next March with the drilling of a number of compelling lake-based targets.”
Firm Contracted for Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of Renard
Also yesterday, Stornoway Diamond Corp. awarded a contract to Roche ltd. Groupe-conseil to investigate the environmental and social impact of the future Renard diamond mine in central Quebec. The Renard mine will be Quebec’s first diamond mine and has a current NPV of $885 million (CAN). The engineering and environmental consulting firm will investigate the corporate social responsibility (CSR) factors that surround the project. Attention to CSR by communities, governments, and companies has increased over the past ten years to the point where having a social license to operate is almost as important as having an economic deposit. Understanding the CSR issues surrounding a project has become a necessity for companies with assets in the first world. Signing on an experienced group such as Roche is an important step in the processes to obtaining all of the necessary permits for the Renard mine.
Disclaimer: The author holds shares of SWY. 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
Sorry, for the lack of recent posts, it’s paper-writing season again.
Mining and exploration investors may be interested in attending this year’s Toronto Resource Investment Conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this weekend (Sept. 25-26). Register now with Cambridge House International Inc., the organizers, to get in for free and avoid paying about $20 at the door.
Publicly-traded mining and exploration companies will have booths on the floor. Commodities present at the show are varied and range from silver (e.g. Great Panther, Soltoro), to diamonds (e.g. Stornoway, Shear), to REEs (Avalon, Quest). There are also fairly well-known speakers in the sector that are giving talks: Kevin O’Leary, John Kaiser, the Coffins, Mickey Fulp, etc.
While not as grand as the PDAC and with less plentiful freebies, the Toronto Resource Investment Conference is a nice way to spend the weekend for the individual investor.
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
Some investors seem to have had a bit of premonition as Great Panther Silver Limited (formerly Great Panther Resources: TSX-GPR) finally closed above the $1 mark this week on another record 4th quarter report that was 6% higher than the targeted amount and a 22% increase over Q4 2008 in terms of silver equivalent ounces produced (2.203 Moz.). Both mines at Topia and Guanajuato reported excellent recoveries and increases in production of Ag, Au, Pb, and Zn.
GPR is not the only small-cap precious metals producer on a strong rise, Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd (TSX-WDO) has been a steady gainer moving from $1.00/share in March to well above $2.50. As the new CEO, Donovan Pollitt told me at the last PDAC (also in March 2009, when he was VP corporate development): “We manage to get more money out of the ground than we put in. It’s a rare thing.” Indeed, back in March that was an exceptional achievement amongst is peers (and even larger companies) and WDO is continuing to build upon their now 20+ year history of turning good properties into mines. A big factor with WDO’s apparent business model is the old adage “The best place to look for a new mine is within sight of a headframe.” In WDO’s case one of their new Au discoveries: Dubuisson, is right next door to Agnico Eagle’s Goldex mine.
The high price of gold has also re-invigorated juniors exploring in Canada’s traditional gold-producing regions: Ontario-Quebec, and British Columbia. Both new properties and old mines/projects are being looked at closely now with Au appearing to have some permanence at above US $1000/oz. Companies such as Hawthorne Gold Corp. (TSX.V-HGC), PC Gold Inc. (TSX-PKL), and Alto Ventures Ltd (TSX.V-ATV) have reported promising gold-related finds in the Cassiar Gold Belt, Pickle Lake, and Abitibi Greenstone Belt regions, respectively.
Regardless of the size of the company, these regions (and others), so historically tied to the country, will continue to produce viable Au prospects for many years to come. The scope of the geologic processes that create such deposits is typically so large that it takes more that a just few mines to fully exploit them. Furthermore, previously uneconomic deposits became attractive again as new technologies develop. This was the case when the heap-leaching method of gold extraction came to mainstream use.
This history of the exploration, development, and production cycle with gold (and other types of deposits) plays a major part in the economic well-being of Canada. Also its continued existence is a far greater certainty than some other supposed “backbones” of the Canadian economy. While it is easy to move an automobile plant to a country where workers are paid less than $20/hr for semi-skilled labour, it is quite impossible to move a mineral deposit.
Disclaimer: The author owns shares of HGC, ATV, and GPR. 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
As the commodity markets shyly improve, one sector (aside from gold of course) is giving a strong showing. It is not one metal, but rather a collection of metals (and metalloids) that has experienced a strong increase in investor and consumer demand. Exotic metals: lithium (Li), tantalum (Ta), beryllium (Be), gallium (Ga), germanium (Ge), niobium (Nb), indium (In), and of course the rare earth elements (REEs), are all experiencing their increased demand. Many of these exotic metals are found in relatively rare geologic occurrences such as carbonatites or pegmatites. This is particularly due to their use in electronics. As more of these devices -typically hand-held or personal, make their way into our lives, the demand for these elements increases.
In the recent commodity rebound, many exploration and mining companies focusing on these exotic metals have been riding the crest of the wave. Companies such as Avalon Rare Metals Inc. (TSX-AVL) and Rare Element Resources (TSX.V-RES) have been stand-outs in this group with a 3-5x increase in share prices since April of this year. AVL has been focused on developing the Thor Lake pegmatite deposit (NWT) and has been refining the process by which to extract the REEs from the rock to an experimental yield of 80%. RES is lot only looking to produce REEs from its Bear Lodge deposit in Wyoming, but gold and uranium as well partially with the help of Newmont Mining Corp. Marifil Mines Ltd. in Argentina is still sitting on its indium (plus gold and silver) property at San Roque, waiting for a JV partner to come through.
Other juniors with more subdued share behaviour are Hudson Resources and Commerce Resources Corp. (TSX.V-CCE). Hudson is gearing up on their Sarfartoq carbonatite REE deposit in Greenland as their other main play: diamonds at Garnet Lake, has lost market attention. Surface sample results from Sarfartoq deposit have given promising numbers in the range of ~1-9% TREO (total rare earth oxides) with a strong weighting to neodymium, one of the more valuable REEs.
Commerce Resources has been busy with their Ta-Nb-REE carbonatite project near Blue River, British Columbia. They have recently announced a $5 million private placement to fund the further evaluation of the Blue River project, particularly the Upper Fir portion. Though not a REE-focused company as most of those mentioned above, CCE is looking at tapping into the increasing demand for exotic metals though its Ta-Nb properties
The carbonatite bodies at Blue River are rather coarse-grained (see picture). This makes liberation of the ore mineral grains (such as Nb-bearing pyrochlore) more efficient and points to a high recovery for these exotic metals.
Tantalum in particular is poised for an increase in demand as personal electronics use increases. It is often a crucial component in microelectronic circuitry. Niobium’s main use is as an alloy with iron to produce high-strength steel. As demand increases, the supply side has to potential to contract significantly. A major source of Nb and Ta, African coltan ore, is being slowly cut off. This is because much of the coltan mined in Africa is done under inhumane conditions to finance local conflict, much in the same way as “blood diamonds”.
As with any commodity market, China is another factor. It is the largest producer of REEs though its vast clay or carbonatite mines, over 95% of world production. There are major worries by the rest of the developed world that China’s control of these strategic metals may have major geopolitical consequences, meaning that alternative deposits in the free world may become attractive not only to investors, but to governments as well.
Disclaimer: The author holds 1000 shares of MFM. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
New Government in Greenland
The Greenlandic people recently applied the results of a 2008 referendum where they voted to gain further autonomy from Denmark that has held sovereignty over the world’s largest island for about 300 years. Greenland now has an increased share of future oil revenues, decreased Danish subsidies, made Greenlandic the sole official language, and has control over areas concerning police, coastguard, and the courts.
Greenland has recently elected a new government as well. The new government is dominated by the Inuit Ataqatugiit (Community of the People) party that has a decidedly socialist and pro-independence platform. However, it has yet to show to the world how it will deal with outside companies in the exploitation of the island’s natural resources: gems, gold, base metals, and petroleum to name a few. Will it take the approach of Alberta (at least until a year ago) with low royalties and taxes to attract foreign investment? Will they go to the other extreme such as the case with Mongolia (see Ivanhoe Mines) where government protectionism and incompetence has paralysed mining in the country? Or will they seek a middle ground as given by the case of Norway, which has exacted generous royalties, but at the same time sustaining corporate interest in exploiting the offshore oil fields there.
Only ~15% of the land area is not covered by glacier, but that number is increasing due to a current global warming cycle. With the lowest population density in the world of 0.03 persons/km2 (Canada is 3); the world’s largest island has to balance its need for funds to better the life of its residents with the desires of some conservative residents to limit exploitation of the land and foreign influence.
Natural Resources are the only realistic draw for investment in Greenland. Population and infrastructure levels are too low for things to be otherwise. Although mines have operated on the island in the past (including the famous cryolite mine that allowed for relative fiscal autonomy after Denmark was occupied during World War 2), no mineral production is presently occurring.
The resources Greenland has to offer the mining industry is varied and a number of companies have exploration programs in the region. Hudson Resources Inc. (TSX.V-HUD) is looking at diamonds in its Garnet Lake property and rare earth metals, uranium, tantalum, and niobium in the Sarfartoq carbonatite nearby. Quadra Mining Ltd. (TSX-QUA) hopes to produce molybdenum concentrate from the Malmbjerg project (although with the collapse of Mo prices, we will have to see how that goes). Even the Greenlandic government is looking to directly profit from mineral exploration through its 37.1% share in Nunaminerals A/S (OMX Copehagen-NUNA) a company with nickel, tungsten, platinum, copper, gold, and iron exploration projects scattered throughout the island.
The Natives are Restless
The mineral exploration project that has attracted the most media attention as of recent is True North Gems’ (TSX.V-TGX) Fiskenaesset Ruby play in southwest Greenland. The company is arranging a private placement to pay for some of the final costs in obtaining a long-awaited mining permit by spring 2010 in order to start selling the large amount of rough gem corundum (ruby and pink sapphire) they have accumulated. In terms of the economic geology, deposit is exceptional in both grade and value of the gems present, rivalling the famed Burmese deposits while existing in a country that does not have the habit of imprisoning duly elected politicians or murdering peaceful protestors. The main focus TGX has now is on whether it can get one of the final permits it needs in order to begin selling the rubies and sapphires it has mined during its evaluation of its property and hopes to mine in the future. TGX has encountered a problem familiar to many companies operating in Canada with resistance from some local aboriginals to the project. This group claims right to traditional mining rights over all of Greenland including TGX’s staked claims. A fairly recent confrontation two summers ago between TGX employees and a group of locals who were collecting gems on a TGX claim resulted in police intervention and catalyzed the formation of the group of locals who accuse the Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) of unfairly siding with TGX and denying their right to conduct traditional activities. A number of articles supporting the local group of aboriginals, calling themselves the August 16th Union can be found HERE.
Playing Hot Potato
For TGX’s part, they appear to (wisely) want to distance themselves from any conflict with locals. They state that the August 16th Union’s complaint lies with the BMP and that the incident just happened to occur on a TGX clam. Andrew Lee Smith, CEO of TGX, when directly questioned on the matter by the KIM Report replied:
“As a foreign company investing in Greenland, we feel this is an issue for the people of Greenland and their government to deal with. We have respected the laws of Greenland in acquiring our mineral rights and conducting exploration and will continue to do so. The company would be happy to support any process that would improve the Greenland mining act if requested to do so.”
A transcript of an interview with Mr. Smith can be found HERE and gives a similar, but more detailed message.
A Great Canadian Pastime, Now a Greenlandic One
Given that one bias of opinion on this issue was given by the blog articles linked above, I will play devil’s advocate. Though I am a geologist by training and admittedly know little about Greenlandic law, I think this issue is a major concern for any company looking to do exploration in Greenland. The election of a socialist, pro-Inuit government does not bode well for companies involved in land-use disputes with aboriginal groups. However, the desire for more financial independence from Denmark and thus the need for more foreign investment may temper the government’s approach to this matter.
As a TGX shareholder, I am of course concerned by any possible interruption of development at Fiskanaesset, but as a Canadian, I am all too aware of the ability for corporations and government to push aside aboriginal groups in the name of “progress”. However, I also know that often the best way to find “traditional aboriginal lands” is to stake a development claim (e.g. Caledonia, Ontario). This unfortunate stereotype is can be encountered when utilizing land in Canada and sometimes is all too accurate in the most cynical sense.
This dispute raises a number of questions by outsiders unfamiliar with Greenlandic law and custom. It can be argued that what has to be established here is: (1) Is gem corundum collecting a traditional Inuit activity and does solid historic evidence exist for it? (2) If the former holds true, what degree of mining is considered traditional? (3) If aboriginal mining is legitimate, is there evidence for past mining in the region claimed by TGX? (4) Is it reasonable to allow traditional miners to benefit from the exploration activity conducted by TGX (ore discovery, exposure at surface, etc.)? (5) Is selling gemstones collected by aboriginal collectors to the world market also a traditional pastime? (6) If the former is all or partly true, did TGX know of this and did the government inform them when they applied for their exploration permit?
Final Cynical Thoughts
While I understand the desire first nations have to preserve their traditional, pre-colonial practices, to demand special status can in certain cases be construed as hypocrisy. Much like the Inuit hunter using rifle and snowmobile to achieve their specially-sanctioned hunting quota in the Canadian Arctic, or the Atlantic Mik’mak Indian lobster fisherman using powered boats, radio, and sonar to bring in their catch, sometimes these “traditional methods” are none too traditional. Likewise, is mining – even on a small scale, of deposits found and exposed at surface using modern technology and knowledge really “traditional”? Going further, is selling those gemstones to offshore consumers “traditional” as well?
Disclaimer: The author holds 1000 shares of TGX. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing. ©KIM Report 2009 www.kimreport.com
Posted by David
A Possibly Bumpy Road Ahead
The past month or so has seen a huge rise in the TSX and Venture indexes as all sectors slowly pull themselves out of the economic hole that was 2008. What may give investors some pause is the question as to whether this is a true recovery, or is this just the seasonal rise most commodities see each spring? What about the doldrums of the summer holidays and the lows of tax loss selling in December?
The TSX Composite Index has risen from a low of ~7500 at the start of 2009 to over 10000 this week. Is it possible that the seasonal spring rise in commodities has been the catalyst for this long-awaited and hoped-for recovery? Or will these gains evaporate with the spring rains as more inevitable bad news comes out of the (primarily U.S.) financial sector this summer?
Being an Eternal Optimist
I would like to think otherwise, and that some of these recent gains may be long-term. As someone heavily invested (relatively speaking) in the resources sector, I have no real choice other than to be optimistic as psychiatrists are expensive. This was the first month in about half a year that I started looking at my portfolio and searching for opportunities to start mitigating some of my losses. Some I managed to catch, others I wish I did.
I have had a little luck with two small companies that readers will know are favourites of mine. The first is Great Panther Resources which has managed to keep their metal production (primarily silver) costs well below market, allowing them to be profitable. They have very recently announced that this last quarter was the first in which a positive cash flow ($0.7 million) was attained and that earnings are up by 75%. The discovery of gold rich zones at their Topia mine does not hurt either. Stornoway Diamond Corp. has also seen a climb in share price from recent lows at nine cents a share to what is now strong support above sixteen cents a share. This is accompanied by fairly recent news of flow-through share investment and government support for a road to their Renard mine in Quebec. The latter discussed in an earlier article.
An opportunity I did miss was with Teck (formerly Teck Cominco) when I could have picked up shares for less than $5. They now stand at ~$15. Teck is currently in the process of selling of some of its assets (e.g. its share in the Pogo gold mine in Alaska) and issuing more paper in order to pay off debt incurred when if bought out Fording Coal Trust near the peak of the commodity market about a year ago. Hopefully this will teach management to buy low and sell high and not the other way around as they have been doing. Yamana has also started to rise up and even led the pack for a little while, helped by high gold prices and the increase in copper prices. However it has stagnated around $10-11/share lately.
As mentioned at the top of this post, the individual investor must consider that we have negligible impact on the share price behaviour of publicly traded companies. Institutional investors going out or moving in will cause the share price to drop or climb respectively, regardless of the fundamentals. The funny thing is that sometimes, for all their trained staff, these big guys are often the first to disregard fundamentals and give in to psychology, following a pack mentality. With a little due diligence, patience, and discipline, the average guy can come out ahead.
Disclaimer: The author holds 4000 shares of SWY, 200 shares of YRI, 100 Shares of TCK, and 1000 shares of GPR. 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
Diamonds were the focus of two sets of talks at the PDAC. The first was a more general discussion that dealt with varied topics such as threats to producers in the form of treated and synthetic stones, science in diamond exploration, the new Chidliak (Peregrine & BHP) discovery, and the diamond industry and its relation the to market in general. The second was a series of presentations by various diamond juniors and their properties.
Turnout for the first talk was surprisingly low, considering the reputation of the speakers, less surprisingly was the even lower turnout to the second series. However, some very good presentations were given and some interesting trends began to appear in the nature of the industry:
1. The diamond industry IS hurting. That is a no-brainer considering how every other mining sector is doing (with the possible exception of gold right now). Currently there is a glut of diamonds in the possession of the cutters right now and the consumer, -you, are not buying. Yes people continue to get married even in tough economic times, but that diamond on the engagement ring will be smaller. Less disposable income = lower consumer spending.
2. The aforementioned hurt has led to a serious slowdown in the discovery and development of diamond deposits. The collapsed diamond prices have led to a short term situation where long term supply will be affected.
3. In regards to that long term view, diamond mines are painstaking to develop. They require more proving-work than any metal commodity and have a discovery to production timeline of at least ten years.
4. This slowdown in the development process is coupled with the lack of world-class discoveries/openings since Diavik (Rio Tinto & Harry Winston) in 2001. The two biggest resources in terms of report value in the pipeline now are Grib (Lukoil & Archangel: TSX.V-AAD), Russia, and Fort a la Corne (Shore Gold & Newmont), Canada. Other developments include the reopening of the Letseng (Gem Diamonds: LSE-GMD) diamond mine, and the sampling of the Mothae kimberlite (Motapa: TSX.V-MTP), both in Lesotho, and the continuing development of the Renard project in Quebec into a mine (Stornoway & SOQUEM).
5. These projects are still 2-8 years before any chance of production, but that may be a good thing as it will be at least 3 years until diamond prices recover from their recent 40% drop. Imagine what would happen if gold went below $600/oz. in a few months.
6. These low diamond prices also mean that companies are holding off on having their projects evaluated in terms of US$/carat.
7. Two types of deposits that did see some focus at the conference are deposits with low grade, but very high diamond value, and those with very low production costs. Diamonds from Letseng are quite rare, but typically high quality. Values can reach up to $2000/c. Motapa and Shore Gold are hoping to enter this low grade – high value club as well. An interesting thing about these rare diamonds is that they appeal to the extremely wealthy, who are more insulated from economic cycles. Companies with low-mining cost projects include Dianor (TSX.V-DOR), who are developing their paleoplacer (old river deposit) Leadbetter diamond resource near Wawa, Ontario, and Mexivada (TSX.V-MNV, Frankfurt-M2Q) with younger placer projects in Sierra Leone. Placer deposits are usually alluvial (river-related) and can concentrate other heavy minerals, such as gold. Placer diamonds are typically higher in value than ones from kimberlites because transport tends to destroy brittle/cracked/included ones.
The key thing now is that companies are balancing keeping in the black with continuing to add value to their projects. The long development time for diamond deposits means that these companies cannot afford to waste 1-2 years due to market conditions. Smart companies are focusing their resources for their most promising resources. Ones that will ensure cash flow as soon as possible.
The lack of attention given to the diamond industry by institutional investors has led to extreme undervaluation in some cases, even at current diamond prices. This represents an opportunity for the individual investor with a 2-4 year outlook to make some serious coin. However, there are a number of diamond juniors out there that have extremely speculative projects and consumers must carefully weigh their expected returns with the risk they are undertaking. More advanced projects carry less risk, but also less expected return. Investors have to take advantage of mispricing by the market due to short term concerns and engage in due diligence to maximize their profits
Disclaimer: The author holds 4000 shares of SWY and 20 shares of HW. He wishes he bought some PGD shares a few months back, but life is far from perfect. This article is based on the opinions and experience of the author. Please conduct due diligence when investing.
Posted by David
Chile is probably the world’s #1 supplier of copper (~35%) through the state-owned entity Codelco and various foreign producers. The geology of the Andes lends itself to large-scale porphyry deposits rich in copper as well as gold, molybdenum, silver, rhenium and other metals. Such a huge drop in the prices of these commodities (with the possible exception of gold) has done serious damage to the Chilean economy. With copper exports representing such a huge portion of its GDP (US$37.6 billion, or 56% of total exports in 2007), Chile’s trade surplus for 2008 will appear puny indeed.
Gold vs. Copper
As with most base metals the price of copper has experienced a huge drop from about US$4.00/lb. in July to $1.29/lb. this Monday. This drop has caused any company that has copper as a significant component of its production to suffer serious revenue decreases. Good examples of these are VALE-INCO (NYSE-RIO) (although nickel and iron are to blame here as well) and Yamana Gold Inc. (TSX-YRI, NYSE-AUY, LSE-YAU). Yamana itself is an interesting case as although it is touted as a gold producer, a significant source of its revenue is from copper (e.g. Chapada, Brazil). This has caused Yamana to see a slower rise in share price than other more gold-oriented companies, such as Kinross (TSX-K).
Challenges for a Small-Cap Company
However, large companies have the obvious ability to weather these low metal prices and Yamana stock has still seen a rise from ~CA$5/share to just below $10/share in the past month, mainly due to interest in gold. It is the small-cap companies that have the most to worry about in the short term when metal prices slide. One such company in Chile that is feeling the pressure is Cu-Mo tailings processor Amerigo Resources. Things have changed for Amerigo since the last KIM Report article in April 2008, copper and molybdenum prices have tanked and most producers are happy if they are currently breaking even. At the time of that article, Amerigo was struggling with high energy costs due to a very dry season at the time as most electricity in Chile is hydroelectric in nature combined with high fuel costs. Now fuel costs are down, Chilean electricity is cheaper due to more precipitation, and electric generators running on cheap bunker oil have been installed at their facility near the Codelco-run El Teniente mine (from which they obtain the tailings for processing). Unfortunately, the timing of these energy-savings coincides with the drop in metal prices. Amerigo recently released news that it had incurred negative price settlements for sales of copper and molybdenum to smelter companies Enami and Molymet, respectively.
The good news is that Amerigo believes it can reduce its production costs before royalties (which are tied to copper price) to $1.20-1.25/lb. The company has recently managed to partially defer energy, royalty (paid to Codelco), and negative copper price settlements. It is in the process of negotiating deferral for the negative molybdenum payments as well. Enami, a state owned entity, has an established mandate to support small to medium copper producers through price protection. How this will affect Amerigo has not been determined. Amerigo has also extended its banking line to US$5.6 million and has opened a new line with a second bank for $5 million. Negotiations are also occurring to open new long-term credit facilities of $10-20 million. On the shareholder end, management has enacted a shareholder rights plan – in essence a poison pill to dissuade any opportunistic takeovers.
The real issue here is if Amerigo will maintain its CA$0.065 semi-annual dividend due this spring. Many shareholders considered a ~6% return to be excellent last spring when the price was around CA$2.25/share. Now with the share price at ~$0.35/share, this ~20% dividend is either an amazing opportunity, or indicative of extreme risk. Given the unclear forecast for metal prices, it appears to be anybody’s game. Amerigo’s future good financial health depends on its continuing good relations with its creditors and smelters.
Disclaimer: The author holds 500 shares of ARG and 200 shares of YRI. This article is based on the experience and opinions of the author. Please do your own due diligence when investing.
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.