Energy & Commodities

Papernick's Formula to Profit from Canada's Booming Resource Exploration

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Posted by Arie Paernick via The Gold Report

on Thursday, 06 September 2012 09:31

Bonanza-grade discoveries in precious and base metals are energizing exploration across Canada. Arie Papernick of Secutor Capital Management Corp. believes that unflappable investors stand to be rewarded for buying at the bottom of the market. In this exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Papernick points to promising developments for issuers prospecting in Canadian gold fields, including the mineral-rich black tar sands and the Labrador Trough. He also suggests techniques for preserving capital so to survive the coming black swans.


The Gold Report: With the shares of many functional junior gold mining firms experiencing a slump in market price, what will it take to bring them back to life?

Arie Papernick: Institutional and retail investors invest in gold mining when they believe they will make a return. This belief is driven by an increase in discoveries, merger and acquisition (M&A) activity and larger bought-deal financings closing. M&A deals generate confidence in the longevity of the junior gold mining sector and establish valuation reference points for stocks to trade up to. Mergers and acquisitions have been quiet on the junior side sinceIAMGOLD Corp.'s (IMG:TSX; IAG:NYSE) takeout of Trelawney Resources Inc. and Yamana Gold Inc.'s (YRI:TSX; AUY:NYSE; YAU:LSE) takeout of Extorre Gold Mines Ltd. (XG:TSX; XG:NYSE.A; E1R:FSE).

TGR: How are discoveries a catalyst for building investor confidence?

AP: Bonanza-grade discoveries remind investors that meteoric returns are possible, and that brings people back into the sector. We've recently seen a few such dramatic moves. Balmoral Resources Ltd. (BAR:TSX.V; BAMLF:OTCQX) saw its stock rise dramatically from its discovery on the Martiniere property east of Detour Lake. And JV partner GTA Resources and Mining Inc. (GTA:TSX.V) saw its shares rise on the Hemlo-Schreiber greenstone belt. Other names enjoying really good stock pops are Gold Reach Resources Ltd. (GRV:TSX.V) and Gold Canyon Resources Inc. (GCU:TSX.V). And the jolt that everybody is talking about now is the GoldQuest Mining Corp. (GQC:TSX.V) copper-gold result from the Dominican Republic. Its stock shot from $0.10 to $2/share.

TGR: Where is the capital coming from for these types of investments?

AP: Financings are crucial for the exploration industry. Companies need money to do the drilling to create the news to motivate the investment, and we've seen a pick-up in that. Quite recently, Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (SSL:TSX.V) announced a $130 million (M) bought deal. More moves like that will likely build confidence among institutional investors in the sector.

TGR: Where are the most exciting new discoveries for precious and base metals in Canada?

AP: Manitoba is exciting. Mega Precious Metals Inc.'s (MGP:TSX.V) most advanced project there is called Monument Bay. The company is well funded. It has an open and an underground project. It has close to a 3 million ounce (Moz) compliant resource. Mega Precious is currently drilling 20,000 meters with a plan to update the resource in 2013. It has a very large land package with several targets and also has good relations with the First Nations. It kick-started its environmental and socioeconomic studies early on in the program.

There are new iron ore discoveries in the Schefferville area in Quebec. The Plan Nord and the province's commitment to expanding infrastructure in the north is encouraging to junior explorers. This is in addition to having favorable tax structures for both mining companies and investors. Beaufield Resources Inc. (BFD:TSX.V) has a large land package in a great location in that area. It's surrounded byNew Millennium Iron Corp. (NML:TSX), Tata Steel Minerals Canada Ltd. (NML:TSX), Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Ltd. (LIM:TSX), Century Iron Ore Holdings Inc. (FER:TSX.V) and Champion Minerals Inc. (CHM:TSX). It's undeveloped, but Beaufield just completed a small drill program of 2,000 meters, and the results are encouraging.

We've been following another junior in that area, Fancamp Exploration Ltd. (FNC:TSX.V). It monetized its interest in Champion Minerals and now owns 12.5% of it. It also owns 100% of Lac Lamêlée, which is north of ArcelorMittal S.A.'s (MT:NYSE) producing Fire Lake mine. Fancamp has produced some great intercepts. It is doing a drill program right now, with the expectation of delivering an NI 43-101 by the end of the year. Plus, the company just released some great news on a nearby property belonging to privately held Magpie Mines Inc., of which Fancamp owns 46%. The project recently made its billion ton historic resource compliant. It also has an agreement with a Chinese company, Sichuan Nonferrous Material Technology Co. Ltd., to perform metallurgical analysis. Positive feedback from the metallurgy study would be great, as Fancamp plans to spin the venture off as a public company.

TGR: What potential aquisitions are poised to take advantage of initiatives in Canada by the juniors?

AP: Large firms with positive cash flows and companies looking to diversify their assets among resource classes and jurisdictions are in the buy market.

TGR: Looking at the Alberta region, is there a synergy between metal mining and the oil tar sands operations that are already in place?

AP: Not yet, but there's a company called DNI Metals Inc. (DNI:TSX.V; DG7:FSE) that is attempting to change that. Its large Alberta property has expansive black shale hosting low metal concentrations. Its initial resource estimate for Buckton, which covers a fraction of its total land package, contains about 250 million tons with low parts-per-million grades of a host of different minerals like molybdenum, nickel, uranium, vanadium, zinc, copper, cobalt and even rare earths. It's a new type of deposit in Canada, but there are companies developing similar types elsewhere in the world. Talvivaara Mining Company Plc (TALV:LSE) in Finland is probably the first of that sort to go into production. DNI is taking advantage of infrastructure that's already in place for the mining of oil sands and applying that to bulk metal mining, instead of building everything from scratch.

TGR: DNI proposes to bioleach the black shales. How does that work?

AP: Bioleaching operates with very low concentrations of various metals that cannot be efficiently smelted because there is no leading metal in these shales. In bioleaching, bacteria is cultured from a host shale, which is a living organism, and then used to extract the metals out of the ore. It's similar to, but much cleaner than, the traditional heap-leaching technique, which uses cyanide. It's a low-cost method and it's well known, but it takes a long time to process the ore and separate the metals out. Difficulties arise because of the different chemical behaviors of the metal mixes embedded in the shale. Metals respond differently to different chemical environments. DNI has been working on perfecting this technique with the CanmetENERGY technology center in Ottawa.

TGR: There are advantages to exploring for metals in the areas in which the oil and gas companies are making a lot of headway. To what degree will the majors allow the juniors to keep absorbing the exploratory risk before investing in new projects?

AP: What makes acquisitions attractive to a major is a quick, derisked addition to reserves. Juniors traditionally have absorbed the risk inherent in exploration work, and a major company generally won't pay an acquisition premium for a project that hasn't been derisked. Especially in the current climate, majors are looking for no loose ends, projects with everything ready to go so they can put in their capital and get into production. Of course, there are always exceptions, such as when the exploration potential is really, really strong, and a major will take over the exploration work before it gets to development.

TGR: Are the seniors willing to compete against each other over these prospects in the junior space?

AP: I think so. Right now, deposits with high-grade, multimillion-ounce potential are becoming rarer, especially in low-risk countries, such as those in North America, which is why you're seeing more and more acquisitions in foreign, high-risk countries. It's not by choice that the firms end up dealing with nationalization risk, high royalties and other political risks. We've also seen some movement away from the high-risk countries. Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX:TSX; ABX:NYSE) is selling its stake in African Barrick Gold Plc (ABG:LSE) due to security risk and blackouts in the region. Properties with all the right features will definitely see competing offers from the majors.

TGR: Alongside the opportunities in base and precious metals that you've mentioned, are there any junior energy firms that you like in the same regions?

AP: One of the companies that we follow in the energy space is Aroway Energy Inc. (ARW:TSX.V; ARWJF:OTCQX), located in Alberta's Peace River Arch. It's a well-managed, fast-growing company. It has a joint venture with a private company with significant infrastructure, which has lowered Aroway's operating costs. Aroway has expanded its land package significantly over the past year with positions near five majors. Current production is 650 barrels oil equivalent per day (boe/d), and 90% of that is oil. Management plans to double that production by the end of the year to 1,200 boe/d. They have a great track record and are exceeding their production targets; it's refreshing to see a team setting goals and meeting them.

TGR: Are there any exciting developments in Ontario?

AP: The IAMGOLD acquisition of Trelawney that was announced in early spring has major implications for Ontario miners. IAMGOLD has stated that it expects its gold production in North America to increase to 36% from 3% when Côté Lake goes into production. What's interesting here is that IAMGOLD inherited a joint venture partner called Sanatana Resources Inc. (STA:TSX.V) when Trelawney acquired Augen Gold Corp. Sanatana will complete its earn-in very shortly to be a 50% joint venture partner. The joint venture lands surround the Côté Lake deposit and may be needed for mine waste and tailing storage. Recent drilling indicates that the Côté Lake Trend could continue through some of those joint venture claims.

Another name we like in Ontario is Northern Gold Mining Inc. (NGM:TSX.V), which just announced that Greg Gibson, former CEO of Trelawney, is its new CEO. The property package is along the Destor-Porcupine Fault zone, with unexplored ground along strike. So far, the company has announced over 1 Moz in the Measured and Indicated category with grades seeming to increase at depth. Northern Gold has just raised $13M, so it's well funded and will aggressively drill the property to convert resources to reserves and produce a prefeasibility study. Greg Gibson has many fans after the completion of the sale of Trelawney, so future work on Northern Gold will get noticed.

Another name that we've covered with Ontario properties is a producer, St Andrews Goldfields Ltd. (SAS:TSX). The company has three producing mines in the Timmins Camp. Operating costs have been coming down. It just announced strong Q2/12 and Q1/12 earnings, and production has been ramping up at its Holt mine. Management has been meeting guidance. It is forecasting 90–100 Koz production for this year and seems to be in a good position to meet that. Once the Taylor mine is put into production—the company hopes by 2014—production will increase to 120–130 Koz. Meanwhile, it continues to do exploration around the surrounding areas to increase reserve life and mine life.

TGR: Your investment firm, Secutor Capital Management Corp., specializes in "defensive capital management." Can you explain how that investment strategy applies to looking for solid investments in the junior metals mining space?

AP: My practice at Secutor is restricted mainly to sophisticated, institutional portfolio managers who specialize in junior mining, as well as high net worth investors who meet the accredited investor criteria. I provide my clients with fundamental research and strategies to provide pricing advantages, which help create a defense to price swings in a volatile market. One way that I find pricing advantages is through initiating flow-through private placements, which provide investors with a reduced after-tax cost base. Also, many of the private placements that we organize and participate in include warrants. These provide extra leverage and an option of keeping exposure after a position has been sold to conserve capital.

I also organize off-market transactions priced at discounts to the market for those who need to trade restricted shares. This process can only be done with accredited investors. Most of the institutional investors that I deal with have the capacity to buy large baskets of stocks in the sector, and I think this kind of diversification is just as, or even more important than, fundamentals in the sector. It's increasingly difficult to pick out the next major discovery, in advance, with only limited exposure.

TGR: How can retail investors best manage a portfolio of investments divided between junior and senior sectors?

AP: A basket approach is mandatory when investing in the junior gold market space. It's really the only way to increase the chance to get exposure to the so-called home run events before those results hit the market. The best way for individuals to do this is through a fund. Pinetree Capital Ltd. (PNP:TSX), which trades on the exchange, can be bought and sold like a stock. It basically represents a basket of juniors. It's managed by Sheldon Inwentash, who is a seasoned professional. It is clearly focused on the junior side of the market. You won't get much exposure to producers in this stock.

If you're looking for producers, people like the well-respected Kevin MacLean, at Sentry Select Capital Corp., are more focused on cash-flowing names.

TGR: What would reasonable ratios be for a retail investor looking to invest in both juniors and majors?

AP: I can't really pinpoint a blanket ratio because it really depends on an individual's risk tolerance and net worth. Investing in the mining space, regardless of the size of the company, is risky, and it's clearly not for everyone.

TGR: For the firms that you recommended, do you have any target prices that you're suggesting?

AP: On our company reports, we do not include target prices. We do comparison tables so the clients can see relative value. Our clients are generally experienced investors and will pick their exit points as required when they're managing their portfolios. I think retail tends to put too much importance on actual target prices, whereas institutional investors want to be shown good ideas, and they figure out their own entry and exit points.

TGR: Are there any tips, either for institutional or retail investors, on how to pick an exit point and stick to it?

AP: The more important exit point is on the downside, needed for preservation of capital. I think to be a successful investor long term in any sector, you need to pick and stick to your downside exposure threshold. It's always harder to sell at a loss, but that's the more important discipline. It gets much easier as the stock is moving into a profit territory. Frankly, my feeling is that where you get out on the upside isn't as important as where you get out on the downside.

TGR: Is this fundamentally part of a hedging strategy?

AP: Hedging is a synonym for the preservation of capital. The only way to stay in the sector long enough to make sure that you have exposure to the next home run is to be in the game long term. The only reliable way is to focus your strategy on preserving your capital. That's just common sense.

TGR: Thank you for your time.

Arie Papernick runs the Equity Capital Market's team at Secutor Capital Management Corp. in Toronto. His team specializes in raising private placement financings for the junior resource sector with a focus on those conducting exploration in Canada. Papernick brings over 17 years of hands-on capital markets experience to his clients. After completing an Honors Bachelor of Commerce degree at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, he started his finance career in Toronto. He completed the Chartered Financial Analyst program in 2000. Papernick has established a successful role for himself among issuers, institutional and high net worth investors.

Want to read more exclusive Gold Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Exclusive Interviews page.

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1) Peter Byrne of The Gold Report conducted this interview. He personally and/or his family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Gold Report: Extorre Gold Mines Ltd., Balmoral Resources Ltd., Gold Canyon Resources Inc., DNI Metals Inc. and Pinetree Capital Ltd. Aroway Energy Inc. is a sponsor of The Energy Report. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services. Interviews are edited for clarity.
3) Arie Papernick: I personally own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: Sanatana Resources Inc., Beaufield Resources Inc., Fancamp Exploration Ltd., DNI Metals Inc. and Pinetree Capital Ltd. I personally and/or my family am paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this story.



Energy & Commodities

Why Uranium’s Future Is Bullish

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Posted by ResourceScene

on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 16:27

These days the future of uranium is quite bullish, despite the decline of the price of uranium from $52/lb to $49/lb over the past 6 months. There are several reasons to believe the near—term trend in uranium price will shift and the price will start rising in 2013. One reason are the strong supply and demand fundamentals; due to the recent decline of the commodity prices, many uranium projects got delayed or shut down, which will translate into a supply shortage over the next few years. The rising demand in uranium will be triggered by industry catalysts such as a strong ongoing demand for nuclear power especially in Japan and China, as well as the expiry of the Russian Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) agreement to down-blend material from nuclear warheads into reactor fuel. Another industry sign are the recent acquisitions in the sector. Cameco, one of the biggest uranium producers in the world has just acquired BHP’s Australian uranium deposit for $430 million; and others are ready to snap up quality projects too.

All in all, these are compelling and very bullish signs for uranium’s bright future.

A previous blog post on uranium earlier this year showed a slightly positive but reluctant outlook for this commodity.







About ResourceScene (Canada)
ResourceScene.com is a natural resources blog that covers topics such as mining and exploration, natural resources, global economics, technology, markets and finance, politics and policies, events and company portraits.


Energy & Commodities

The Real Reason Behind Oil Price Rises

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Posted by James Stafford via OilPrice.com

on Friday, 31 August 2012 16:31

Nowadays the energy picture is confusing at best as the more information we are shown the more blurred our vision seems to become. Mixed messages, poor reporting and a media hungry to sensationalize anything it thinks can grab a headline have led to many wondering what the true energy situation is. We hear numerous reports on how the shale revolution will transform the energy sector, why alternatives are just around the corner, why advances in oilfield extraction techniques and new finds will help to lower oil prices. Yet no sooner have we read these rosy reports than we are bombarded with negative news on the Middle East, on why alternatives will never compete, on peak oil and declining oil production.

So where do we really stand? 

In the interview, James discusses:

•    Why we shouldn’t get too excited with the shale revolution
•    The “Real” cause of high oil prices
•    The incredible opportunity presented by natural gas
•    Why long term oil prices will creep upwards
•    The geopolitical hotspots that could cause an oil price spike
•    Why sanctions could cause Iran to lash out
•    Why speculators and oil companies are not to blame for high oil prices.
•    Changes we can expect to see under a Romney Administration
•    Why Short term oil price forecasts are worthless
•    Peak oil & Daniel Yergin

...read the interview HERE 

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Energy & Commodities

It's Game On for Rare Earths in Greenland

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Posted by Rick Mills via The Critical Metals Report

on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 10:49

Far from icebound, Greenland is wealthy in rare earth elements, precious metals and oil. Already, says Aheadoftheherd.com owner Rick Mills, companies are beginning to outline major discoveries at just pennies a share. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Read more in this exclusive interview with The Critical Metals Report.

The Critical Metals Report: Let's start by talking about growth in developing nations, where populations are starting to demand the good things in life that we in the developed world have long enjoyed. That means continued growth in the commodity markets, specifically in mining. What are the implications of that?

Rick Mills: Easy and cheap access to basic materials like food, fiber, energy and minerals has driven recent growth in global prosperity. Throughout history, supply shortages in these materials have led to prices high enough to support further increases in production. We have always counted on supply eventually exceeding demand and forcing prices to drop.

Now, we are seeing a paradigm shift. Scarcity, jurisdictional risk and energy costs may result in declining production. Remember, margins, not price, motivate investment. As the cost of production increases, margins might not be sustainable.

TCMR: Is this specific to metals or other materials?

RM: I am talking about everything: food, fiber, energy and minerals. As far as metals are concerned, we have already picked most of the low-hanging fruit; now we have to go to more remote locations. We have to go to countries that are a little bit sketchy: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia or South Africa, which seems to be imploding.

For 10 years now, supply has struggled to keep pace with demand. The supply of metals is finite and subject to compounding demand from developing nations. Discovery and development are increasingly challenging and expensive. Average ore grades for most minerals are in decline, yet their production has increased dramatically.

The most important metals, copper for example, are suffering from declining ore quality and rising extraction costs. Eventually, the quantity of resources used in the extraction process will be 100% of what is produced. At existing mines, costs are increasing while production rates are stagnant or in decline. And the rate of discovery is not keeping pace with the rate of depletion; we are not replacing the reserves we are using.

TCMR: That would seem to increase the value of some of the near-term production stories that have defined ounces. Do you see a general increase in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity in the metals industry?

RM: I think that will have to happen. When was the last time you heard of a major making a discovery? The majors' business is to produce, whereas the juniors' place on the food chain is to explore, find and develop to a given point.

As reserves get more difficult to replace, juniors with deposits will become more valuable. The only way for a major mining company to replace its reserves and grow its resources is M&A. And, because there are very few mid-tier companies left, the majors will have to dip into the junior pool.

TCMR: You pay close attention to areas of the world now being explored. Do you have any ideas for investors, particularly in terms of lesser-known jurisdictions?

RM: Greenland is one place that will be increasingly on investors' radar screens. It is vastly underexplored and yet, it has some of the best potential for mineral discoveries that I have ever seen. Greenland is the largest island in the world; it has 5,800 square kilometers (sq km) of coastline. And yes, about 84% of Greenland is icecap up to 3 km thick. But the ice-free area surrounding the icecap is up to 300 km wide; roughly 400,010 sq km. Compare that to the size of Germany, which is slightly less at 357,000 sq km. That is where the prospective mineral discovery areas are. Most companies are working on the southwest coast.

Travel by sea is possible throughout the year from Nanortalik, in the south, to Sisimiut in the northwest, where the ports have a year-round shipping season.

The Earth's "cryosphere"—its frozen places—are melting. And there's no place on Earth that's changing faster than Greenland. The World Meteorological Organization reported that December 2011 was much warmer than usual, with rainfall instead of snow recorded for the first time in Kuujjuaq. NASA recently reported that ice all across the vast glacial interior of the world's largest island was melting.

Greenland is no more rugged than Canada's north. When you consider that the southwest coast is ice-free year round, shipping by sea would be cheaper than roads or exporting out of Canada's north.

TCMR: Why is it so prospective from a mineral exploration standpoint?

RM: Because Greenland is geologically part of North America, its geology is continuous with that of Canada and Northern Europe. It has cratons, which gives you the potential for diamonds, gold and rare earths. There's a Paleoproterozoic mobile belt, which gives you the potential for base metals, platinum group metals (PGMs), gold and tantalum. The Skaergaard intrusion, a lower territory intrusive complex, is tremendously important in terms of gold and PGM potential. Greenland also has lower Paleozoic sediments, which have the potential for other base metals. Carboniferous cretaceous settlements have the potential for coal.

Its offshore geology is highly prospective for petroleum. In 2007, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the East Greenland Rift Basins Province could hold more than 31 billion barrels oil, gas and natural gas liquids. It also estimated that the waters off Greenland's west coast could contain the equivalent of 42% of Saudi Arabia's oil reserves.

TCMR: What about permitting and ease of development? Do the Greenlanders welcome this type of activity?

RM: Greenland has had self-rule since June 2009, including control over its minerals and petroleum. It is a politically stable democracy, open to foreign investments and mining. Right now, fishing and grants from Denmark are its major sources of revenue. Greenland wants to cement its financial independence from Denmark and sees mineral mining and oil and gas production as good sectors to achieve this. The permitting process takes a very commonsense approach. Greenlanders want to get mines going, to have people working and to get the revenue generated by operating mines.

Greenland's Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) is the nation's authoritative body for all administration related to mineral resources. It is a one-stop shop for anyone who wants a license. The BMP has the regulatory authority to review, evaluate and approve all licenses and to facilitate the public hearing process.

TCMR: So there are no hoops to jump through for local, provincial or national governments?

RM: That's right, and the BMP is aggressive when it comes to marketing Greenland's geologic potential. For example, the BMP designed and executed its own resource awareness marketing strategy focused on Australia and Canada, the two biggest mining countries in the world.

TCMR: What companies are operating there?

RM: Hudson Resources Inc. (HUD:TSX.V) controls 100% of the Sarfartoq carbonatite complex in west Greenland. This is one of the world's largest carbonatite complexes, approximately 13 by 8 km. The minerals of economic interest include pyrochlore, a niobium and tantalum oxide. In the core of the complex there are high uranium levels corresponding with exceptionally high concentrations of niobium and tantalum. The Sarfartoq project has produced some of the highest-known niobium intercepts. Uranium is directly associated with the niobium in the pyrochlore and is an effective prospecting tool used to identify other pyrochlore occurrences on the project.

Greenland currently has a moratorium on uranium mining. Hudson is sitting back and letting Greenlanders decide whether they want uranium mining or not. Instead, it is concentrating on the rare earth elements (REEs). There seem to be an awful lot of them with extremely high grades.

TCMR: Right now, it seems that the heavy rare earth elements (HREEs) are the most sought after. Does Hudson have a deposit with any of the HREEs?

RM: It has a deposit of what is arguably the most important REE, neodymium. Neodymium is the key to making REE magnets, those superior, high-strength permanent magnets used for energy-related applications. For example, wind turbines require 1,000 kilograms of neodymium for each megawatt of electricity they generate. The shift away from electromagnetic systems toward a permanent magnetic-based, direct-drive system in hybrid cars is increasing demand for neodymium. It always seems to be in short supply in the global marketplace, so prices have held up fairly well.

Hudson collected a five-ton, bulk metallurgical sample from its main zone, the ST1. It graded 2.5% total rare earth oxides (REOs). The neodymium oxide averaged 20% of total REO. That is a phenomenal number, and it bodes well for the extraction of neodymium.

TCMR: Neodymium is on the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) list of most critical rare earth metals.

RM: Five REEs—dysprosium, neodymium, terbium, europium and ytterbium—are considered to be the most critical of the elements in the DOE's Critical Metals Strategy report issued in December 2011.

In a REE deposit, the distribution of the individual REOs as a percentage of the total REOs is very important. You want to be sure that you can pull the metal that is the most in demand and extract it at the most advantageous cost.

The high-grade rare earth oxides on the Sarfartoq project are associated with low levels of thorium. As a result, the thorium radiometric signature is an effective prospecting tool for identifying additional REE occurrences.

Hudson is still defining the deposit, doing infill drilling and working on the metallurgy side, but also continues exploring in and around the project area.

TCMR: Does it have a preliminary economic assessment (PEA)?

RM: Its PEA shows a net present value of $616 million (M) and an internal rate of return of 31.2% with a 2.7-year payback period. The study was based solely on the company's NI 43-101, Inferred resource of 14.1 million tons (Mt) at 1.5% total rare earth oxides (TREOs).

It put another 8,000 meters (m) of drilling into it so far this year. It is going to enter 2013 with $7M in the treasury.

There is a lot of news coming from Hudson. It has potential not just in its neodymium project, but all of its claims in the whole project area are highly prospective. There is blue-sky discovery potential with Hudson.

TCMR: Since Greenland shares some of its geology with northern Canada, what other minerals does it host?

RM: North American Nickel Inc. (NAN:TSX.V) is working on what could be a whole nickel camp up in Greenland. Its Maniitsoq property is a district-scale project 4,800 sq km in size. Its mineral exploration license covers numerous high-grade nickel-copper-sulphide occurrences associated with norite and other mafic-ultramafic intrusions. It is part of a belt more than 70km long near Greenland's southwest coast. We know there is nickel there because we have historical results. However, I look at it as a new discovery, one that could actually put Greenland on the map.

If investors buy North American Nickel at $0.20, they are getting what is a shot at a district-size play, owned 100% by North American Nickel. For sheer size, plays like this do not come along often. I see this as a pure discovery story. It does not matter whether it is nickel or another metal. A discovery of this size and potential richness, in a politically stable, mining-friendly country, will be rewarded enormously. Discovery plays get rewarded, no matter what the market is.

TCMR: Any final thoughts, Rick?

RM: Sally, all of the juniors we have talked about in this and previous interviews have a deposit and are working their way down the development path. Sooner or later, one of the majors will have to look at these juniors as opportunities to replace their reserves and grow their resources. That will happen not because the majors want to, but because they need to.

Since my last interview with The Gold Report, a couple of the companies mentioned have done very well for their investors. I fully expect both companies mentioned here to do as well.

TCMR: Rick, thank you for your time and insights.

Richard (Rick) Mills is the founder, owner and president of Northern Venture Group, which ownsAheadoftheherd.com, as well as publisher, editor and host of the website. Focusing on the junior resource sector, Mills has had articles appearing on more than 400 different publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Safe Haven, The Market Oracle, USA Today, National Post, Stockhouse, LewRockwell, Pinnacle Digest, Uranium Miner, Beforeitsnews.com, Seeking Alpha, Montreal Gazette, Casey Research, 24hgold, Vancouver Sun, CBS News, Silver Bear Cafe, Infomine, Huffington Post, Mineweb, 321Gold, Kitco, Gold-Eagle, The Gold/Energy Reports, Calgary Herald, Resource Investor, Mining.com, Forbes, FN Arena, UraniumSeek, Financial Sense, GoldSeek, Dallas News, VantageWire andResource Clips

Want to read more exclusive Critical Metals Report interviews like this? Sign up for our free e-newsletter, and you'll learn when new articles have been published. To see a list of recent interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Exclusive Interviews page.



Energy & Commodities

Why Uranium Prices Will Spike in 2013

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Posted by David Sadowski via Raymond James

on Friday, 24 August 2012 07:29

Analyst David Sadowski of Raymond James sees a lot on the horizon for uranium: a supply shortfall, escalating Asian demand and seasonality, to name just a few. As a former geologist-turned sellside analyst, Sadowski's conviction in uranium's bullish future is rock solid, and he urges investors to get exposure now, as prices in this sector can climb quickly once they're set in motion. In this exclusive interview withThe Energy Report, Sadowski shares his favorite names that are set to deliver megawatt-size returns to investors.


The Energy Report: David, how does your background as a geologist help you to see value and growth potential in mining companies?

David Sadowski: Defining ounces or pounds is not an easy business. If it was, there would certainly be far more economic deposits out there and metal prices would be a lot lower. Luck is involved, but most companies use systematic evaluations like geological surveys, drilling and other data to take a lot of the guesswork out of finding the next discovery. The ability to interpret these data is equally important, and it allows an analyst to make an independent determination on the growth potential of a project rather than just relying on what management is saying. In this way, I feel like having an understanding of how economic ore deposits form is essential to developing a meaningful forward-looking opinion, particularly on early-stage prospects. In my view that's one of the most important tools for the successful analyst.

TER: You're also clearly comfortable speaking with engineers and geologists at these companies.

DS: Yes, quite right. That's a very important element to my role. You have to be able to speak the same language and understand what they're doing on the ground, and that helps the analyst determine whether or not the company is headed in the right direction. It's a key skill to have.

TER: I was also very curious about your transition to finance as a sellside analyst. You once had a responsibility to the companies for which you worked, but now your stakeholders are institutional and retail investors. What mental shifts did you have to make?

DS: As an exploration geologist, one is really focused on the rocks, sometimes even at the microscopic level, and that's a much different scope of focus than that of a mining analyst. The financial and operational outlook for the company and its share price must always be on the analyst's mind, and we're not looking at companies in isolation, as a geologist might do. If you're in the business of projecting where the commodity price is going, as I am for uranium, the scope of analysis is global and extends from government policy right down to whether we think a specific ore zone will be amenable to heap leach, for example. As you mentioned, first and foremost I look out for the interest of investors rather than the mining companies, and this responsibility demands even higher levels of objectivity, precision and rigor. It's a constant challenge and that makes it an exciting and fulfilling role.

TER: Speaking of forecasts, uranium has dipped below the $50/lb level. I'm not sure, but I think these round numbers represent psychological support and resistance levels. What minimum price level must be sustained for small or near-term producers to maintain adequate margins?

DS: Well, if we look at existing operations, the majority of them would be losing money by selling their material at $40/lb. But there are a few exceptions, some of which are quite large producers, likeCameco Corp.'s (CCO:TSX; CCJ:NYSE) McArthur River or BHP Billiton Ltd.'s (BHP:NYSE; BHPLF:OTCPK) Olympic Dam. By our estimates, the only two potential projects that are likely to work in the $40/lb range of average realized price would likely be Cigar Lake and the expansion at Olympic Dam, but these are definitely major outliers. Cigar Lake is the second-highest grading deposit in the world, and it's located in an excellent jurisdiction in northern Saskatchewan with significant existing infrastructure nearby. Meanwhile, Olympic Dam only works at that price because its uranium production is a byproduct of much more significant gold and copper output. When we look at the majority of additional projects needed to fill the looming supply gap, we think they need prices north of $70/lb to go forward. This is one of the key reasons why we feel the sub-$50/lb prices are unsustainable.

TER: What is your case for rising demand for uranium?

DS: We're definitely bullish on the outlook for uranium. Although prices have softened in recent months, we have a very strong conviction that this trend is soon to reverse and investors should be exposed to uranium today. Beyond the high incentive prices for new supply that we just touched on, there are three primary reasons for our view. The first one is compelling supply/demand fundamentals. Next, there is the seasonality of uranium prices. And, most importantly, there are industry catalysts. Shall we take a look at each one?

TER: Please, go right ahead.

DS: After the Fukushima Daiichi accident last year, the nuclear industry has done some soul searching and decided to take a slower, more cautious pace in the construction of new reactors globally. But what many people don't realize is that according to World Nuclear Association (WNA) data, there are nine more reactors in the planned and proposed category today than there were before the accident. Demand for nuclear power has remained resilient with ramping electricity requirements around the world, volatility in fossil fuel prices, energy supply security concerns and a global preference for carbon-neutral sources. The majority of this demand is from Asia. In fact, we estimate 82% of new capacity through 2020 will be built in only four countries—China, India, Russia and South Korea. Part of the reason for that is that state-owned utilities don't face the same problems associated with other regions, like high upfront construction costs, widespread antinuclear public sentiment and lengthy regulatory timelines. So, this continued growth should support commensurate levels of demand for uranium for decades to come.

All of this demand begs the question, where is this uranium going to come from? Well, we don't think supply is going to be able to keep up. Due to recent soft prices, many major projects have been delayed or shelved, like BHP's Olympic Dam expansion, which I mentioned earlier, and Cameco's Kintyre project,AREVA's (AREVA:EPA) Trekkopje project and the stage 4 expansion at Paladin Energy Ltd.'s (PDN:TSX; PDN:ASX) Langer Heinrich mine. Even the world's largest producer, Kazakhstan, may slow its pace of production growth. And, further complicating this issue is dwindling secondary supplies, like surplus government stockpiles, which in recent years have contributed 50 million pounds (Mlb)/year. But, that number is expected to halve over the next few years. We are projecting a three-year supply shortfall starting in 2014, and that certainly paints a very rosy supply/demand picture for investors.

Seasonality also favors uranium exposure today. Over the last 10 years, uranium spot prices have dropped on average $4/lb during the third quarter (Q3) but have rebounded by at least that amount in Q4, which is the strongest quarter of the year. This is often correlated with the annual WNA symposium, where many market participants sit down and hammer out new supply agreements. This year's conference is going to be held September 12–14 in London.

Last but not least, there are several near-term catalysts that we think will start the price upswing. In Japan, all but two reactors are now offline, and there's significant uncertainty and government debate about how many will eventually restart. As the world's third-largest nuclear fleet, it has obvious implications for future uranium demand. For a variety of economic, political and environmental reasons, we think Japan will restart most of its reactors by 2017 with the first batch of reactors likely starting early in 2013. As more units start to return to service, it will provide additional confidence that the nuclear utilities in Japan are unlikely to dump their inventories into the market, which should support prices in the near-term.

Meanwhile in China, the government paused construction approvals for new reactors immediately after last year's Fukushima accident. But with these safety reviews now successfully completed, they're poised to start re-permitting new projects, and this should undoubtedly support increased uranium contracting. Let's not forget that China will be far-and-away the largest source of nuclear demand growth for the foreseeable future. We expect a six-fold increase in installed nuclear capacity by the end of this decade.

The final major catalyst is the expiry of the Russian Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) agreement to down-blend material from nuclear warheads into reactor fuel. This agreement has supplied the Western World for two decades but is due to conclude at the end of 2013. The Russians have repeatedly stated they're not interested in extending this agreement, and we expect this to remove about 24 Mlbs/year or 13% from the global supply. That's equivalent to shutting down the world's largest mine, McArthur River, as well as all six operating mines in the U.S. That's a massive impact. So, for these reasons we think prices are poised to turn here. We forecast prices to average above $60/lb in 2013 and north of $70/lb in 2014 and 2015 before settling to $70/lb in the long-term.

TER: These catalysts are spread out over the next 18 months, which is not a long time. Stock markets generally look ahead. So, why are prices lagging as they are?

DS: That's a good question. I think what we're seeing is a significant amount of uncertainty in the marketplace surrounding the availability of some material and who is going to be a near-term buyer. The purchasing side is largely comprised of nuclear utilities, which are usually very conservative and cautious. Based on our experience, they tend not to make rash moves and prefer to wait until all information is available before jumping into new sales contracts. For instance, they would rather have certainty on whether utilities in Japan and Germany are going to be selling any of their inventories before they start buying. This has led to very low volumes in recent months.

However, we're already starting to see contracting activity pick up with major long-term deals signed by Paladin and one with the United Arab Emirates, both this month. And the WNA meetings are now only a few weeks away. This mounting activity could be just what the market needs for the metal price to shift to higher and more sustainable levels. And recent history shows that when the price moves, it can move really quickly as we saw in 2007, mid-2009 and late-2010 when the weekly uranium spot price jumped in increments of $5–10/lb.

TER: Could these current low prices force juniors to sell themselves to the larger companies, the producers?

DS: Well, we certainly expect further consolidation in the space. This industry is pretty much divided into the haves and have-nots. On one side we have state-owned utilities in countries like China and Korea, which essentially have zero cost of capital and the stated intention to build their exposure to uranium production. We also have large producers, like Cameco and Uranium One Inc. (UUU:TSX), that are cashed up and looking to grow. But, meanwhile many have-not companies have been under significant pressure in this current low uranium price environment with weak balance sheets and share prices. They could be looking to either sell assets or be taken over completely. Last year we saw Hathor get acquired by Rio Tinto Plc (RIO:NYSE; RIO:ASX; RIO:LSE; RTPPF:OTCPK). Extract Resources was bought by the Chinese nuclear utility, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corp. (CGNPC). And, Mantra Resources was just purchased by Russia's ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. These major deals could just be the start of another major trend of M&A in our view.

TER: I'm surprised that those acquisitions you just mentioned haven't been a bullish signal to the market.

DS: We definitely think that they're a bullish signal. It means that the larger companies are willing to lay out capital and put it at risk to build their future pipelines, which is a sign to us that they have confidence in where the uranium price is going and that they want to have higher production in the future to take advantage of those higher prices.

TER: David, everything you have said sounds to me like you believe that we are now in a legitimate value market in uranium equities. Is that the way you feel?

DS: Yes, definitely.

TER: What are your best ideas that you're telling investors about?

DS: We prefer higher-quality, lower-risk names with minimal capital requirements. One of those is Cameco. It's the world's largest publicly listed uranium producer. Its market cap is over $8 billion (B). So that makes it very acceptable for many investors who have certain constraints and mandates to get exposure to the uranium space. It's historically been the go-to name in the space. This company features strong production growth and a very low production cost. And it's got a critical milestone coming up with the startup of its massive 50%-owned Cigar Lake project, which is due to come on-stream in late 2013. When fully ramped up, Cigar Lake is going to be the second-largest mine in the world. Cameco also has a very healthy balance sheet with access to about $4B in capital, and we wouldn't be surprised if it puts that money to work by making an acquisition in the next 6–12 months.

TER: You have a $28 target price on Cameco, which does not represent huge upside gain from current levels. Is this what you think of as a safer, more conservative play?

DS: Yes, certainly. It reduces your risk via diversification into the other parts of the fuel cycle, such as conversion, refining and electricity generation, while you're still getting some serious exposure to the uranium space. Even if we don't project a really big return to our target, we think it's a safe play and we recommend it. There's less volatility in this one.

TER: What's your next idea?

DS: The next one in terms of lower-risk names we'd recommend is Uranium Participation Corp. (U:TSX). Our target is $8, but we've got a Strong Buy on it because we think this is a great low-risk way to get into the space. It's the world's only physical uranium fund, and it's designed to give investors pure-play exposure to the uranium price without any of the associated exploration, development or mining risks. The fund usually trades at slight premium to its net asset value (NAV), but currently it's about 13% below NAV. We think it's trading at a great entry point right now. Its current share price implies a uranium price of about $44/lb. If you're like us and you think spot prices are unlikely to descend to those levels, then Uranium Participation offers good value today. If you're an investor looking for more leverage, it may not be the one for you. But, I think if you're going to buy a basket of equities this is one that you may want to include.

TER: What about investors who are willing to take on a bit more risk for greater returns?

DS: If you want more leveraged exposure to a potential spot-price rebound, we would consider a couple of other companies. The first one is Ur-Energy Inc. (URE:TSX; URG:NYSE.A), and we've got a $1.80 target and a Strong Buy rating on this one as well. It's got an excellent flagship project called Lost Creek in mining-friendly Wyoming. We see production starting up there in the second half of next year. The project's got low capital and operating costs and it's scalable as well. Despite a somewhat small 1 Mlb/yr mine plan, the design of the backend of the Lost Creek plant should accommodate about 2 Mlb/year of uranium. It should be able to incorporate other satellite deposits, such as those acquired from Uranium One earlier this year as well as from Areva last month. Ur-Energy is also a catalyst story. It's got only one final mine permit required before construction can start, and we have strong conviction that final approvals from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will come in by the end of September, particularly following release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) last week—a major milestone. Currently Ur-Energy's valuation is very attractive, trading at the lowest price/NAV (0.5x) of any of our covered equities, and we think receipt of that approval from the BLM could help close the gap towards developer valuations.

TER: Over the past four weeks it's up 34%. I'm guessing that the near-term expectation of this BLM permit is the reason for this stock's very high relative strength.

DS: I think so. I think we're trending towards that date, and it's become very important because this company has faced a little bit of difficulty over the last few years with some of its permitting timelines. It has missed a few targets, and that has really hurt the share price. And, yes, when this permit comes in we think it should be a great catalyst for the stock to re-rate towards developer valuations.

TER: Would you mention another name?

DS: Uranium One is another one of these stocks with a bit higher risk profile, but we think this risk is justified, and that is demonstrated by our higher target price. We are rating it Outperform with a $3.60 target. It's got an excellent suite of low-cost in situ leach mines in Kazakhstan. It's the world's fourth-largest producer, and it's also one of the fastest-growing producers out there as well. We modeled over 15 Mlb of production in 2015, up from only 10.7 Mlbs in 2011. Uranium One has the highest exposure to spot prices than any other company in our coverage universe, so it's a great way to play this space if you're a strong believer in uranium prices going upwards. Uranium One is 52% owned by ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., a strong partner, and that's allowed it to access the Russian ruble bond market, which has been a boon for the company. It's at a great entry point at current levels, with a 0.7x current price/NAV.

TER: David, Uranium One has a $2.3B market cap, and because of that there are a lot of mutual funds that could buy this stock. But it strikes me that its market value is a quarter the size of Cameco. Mutual funds could get some very significant upside from Uranium One.

DS: That's a really good point to make. There are very few universally investable uranium equities. And by that I mean that there are very few publicly listed uranium equities in Canada, for example, that exceed that $1B market-cap threshold. Cameco is the biggest one at over $8B in market cap, and then you've got Uranium One, and Paladin Energy. And, beyond that there are very few places that you can put your money if you're the type of investor that's got the specific size and liquidity constraints or mandates, like you said, as a mutual fund. Those are pretty much the top three go-to places if you want uranium exposure.

TER: Is there one more you could mention? You have a Market Perform rating on Denison Mines Corp. (DML:TSX; DNN:NYSE.A). I'm interested in hearing about it because the company is once again an explorer.

DS: Denison Mines has a great management group lead by Ron Hochstein, and it has a 60%-interest in an excellent exploration project called Wheeler River, which is one of the best discoveries that we've seen in about a decade, perhaps trailing only Hathor's Roughrider. It's also one of the highest-grading uranium deposits that has ever been discovered. We think that the project could nearly double its resources at depth, along strike and on regional targets, and so we model 70 Mlbs at 12% target resources at Wheeler River. Denison also has a 22.5% ownership of the state-of-the-art JEB mill, which is one of only four active conventional uranium mills in North America. It's unique in that it can process high-grade ores without having to downblend. That's a strong competitive advantage. For those reasons, we think Denison is a good takeout target. Cameco and Rio Tinto's faceoff for Hathor last year was probably their first battle in a larger war for the prime assets in the basin, and Denison has two of them. That said, we are cautious on the name today given limited visibility to production at its minority-held Canadian projects and in Mongolia and Zambia, as well as potential financing risk next year. We have a Market Perform rating and $1.80 target on the company.

TER: I have enjoyed meeting you very much, David.

DS: Thanks for having me George. It was a pleasure to speak with you as well.

David Sadowski has been a member of Raymond James' mining team since June 2008, and now covers the uranium and junior precious metal spaces as a research analyst. Prior to joining the firm, David worked as a geologist in Central and Northern B.C. with multiple Vancouver-based junior exploration companies, focused on base and precious metals. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Geological Sciences from the University of British Columbia.

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1) George S. Mack of The Energy Report conducted this interview. He personally and/or his family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors of The Energy Report: Ur-Energy Inc. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services. Interviews are edited for clarity.
3) David Sadowski: I personally and/or my family own shares of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I personally and/or my family is paid by the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I was not paid by Streetwise Reports for participating in this story.


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