Chris Marchese and Jason Burack: Mine Precious Metals
Source: Brian Sylvester of
The Gold Report
The exciting tech sector of yesterday will pale in comparison
to the precious metals sector of tomorrow, say Chris Marchese,
portfolio strategist with a hedge fund under Vishni Capital, and
Jason Burack, independent investor and creator of Wall Street for
Main Street. In an exclusive interview with
The Gold Report,
they share their analysis of one last solid-gold-and
: Alexco Resource Corp. - Andean Resources Ltd. - AngloGold
Ashanti Ltd. - Argentex Mining Corp. - Augen Capital - Aurcana
Corporation - AuRico Gold Inc - Barrick Gold Corp. - Coeur
d'Alene Mines Corp. -
Crocodile Gold Corp.
Detour Gold Corp.
- First Majestic Silver Corp. -
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.
- Gold Resource Corporation -
Great Panther Silver Ltd.
- Kinross Gold Corp. -
- Newmont Mining Corp. - Northgate Minerals Corporation -
Pretium Resources Inc.
Primero Mining Corp.
- Red Back Mining Inc. - Revett Minerals Inc. -
Royal Gold Inc.
- Sandstorm Gold Ltd. - Sandstorm Metals & Energy Ltd. -
Seabridge Gold Inc. - Silver Wheaton Corp. - Silvercorp Metals
Inc. - Trelawney Resources Inc.
The Gold Report:
Whatever form the Federal Reserve's economic stimulus takes, do
you believe it will prove to be a boon to the junior resource
sector, much like it was in late 2010?
It's going to be exponentially more this time around. With gold
at $1,800/ounce (oz.), it is taking the reserve status away from
the dollar. And with the announcement of Quantative Easing 3
(operations twist, etc.), we could see $2,500/oz. or $3,000/oz.
gold very quickly.
People who have courage and conviction and are willing to
continue to average into their positions over the next 12-18
months will benefit. Established producers of gold and silver
have humongous cash flow, and they'll add more juniors. They are
going to want to add near-term producers. The juniors are where
the majority of wealth is going to be created.
A few weeks ago, precious metals expert Eric Sprott said silver
will be "the investment of this decade." Did that spur a change
in your investment strategies?
Artificially suppressing a commodity for a prolonged period,
which in this case has been 30 years and counting, leads to
shortages. So Sprott just reaffirmed what I was thinking, which
is definitely a good boost of confidence.
The Silver Institute projects industrial demand to grow by 35% by
2015. Investor demand now is really starting to rocket,
especially in the developing countries. You are seeing tremendous
amounts of investor demand in China and India, where normally
they would have bought more gold. Sprott's been tracking the
capital inflow of each dollar of gold relative to each dollar of
silver invested and they are equal on a dollar for dollar amount
for both metals in most cases; for some bullion dealers a lot
more money is being invested into silver, and there is no way the
gold:silver ratio is going to stay this much in favor of gold if
Are you more bullish on silver or gold junior equities?
I like the companies that are hybrids, like
Minefinders Corp. (MFL:TSX; MFN:NYSE)
Coeur d'Alene Mines Corp. (CDM:TSX; CDE:NYSE)
The quality just isn't there in the primary silver juniors. Of
the ones that are, most are 60%-70% silver.
First Majestic Silver Corp. (FR:TSX; AG:NYSE;
Silver Wheaton Corp. (SLW:TSX; SLW:NYSE)
are over 90%. The hybrids are a good way to play it. The
gold:silver ratio will go into the single digits. That will also
help control byproduct cash costs for a lot of the hybrids, such
AuRico Gold Inc (AUQ:TSX; AUQ:NYSE)
, Minefinders and
Gold Resource Corp. (GORO:NYSE.A; GORO:OTCBB;
What did you make of AuRico, previously Gammon Gold Inc., and its
CAD$1.4 billion (
) bid for
Northgate Minerals Corp. (NGX:TSX,
I love the acquisition. It gives the company some geopolitical
diversity. It's in Australia, Canada and Mexico now. Starting
with the acquisition of Capital Gold Corp. earlier in the year,
AuRico set itself up so that it won't have to acquire any more
property or smaller companies for the rest of the cycle.
Has AuRico worked out all the issues with its Ocampo silver-gold
mine in Mexico?
There was a nine-month strike at El Cubo, but it will be at full
capacity next year. Ocampo is doing phenomenally. The preliminary
economic assessment for Guadalupe y Calvo, its next flagship
(excluding Young Davidson-pending the close of the Northgate
acquisition), is due in September. It has a nice blend of gold
and silver. It is one of the better turnaround stories for this
For the gold production companies right now, this is a perfect
storm-type of scenario. The energy prices are staying in a
relative trading range or they're trending downward, so their
energy input costs are under control. The price of the gold they
produce is going up, so their profit margins are expanding
rapidly. Pretty much in every other sector of the economy,
everyone's trying just to maintain profit margins and keep their
heads above water. Maintaining current profit margins in this
current macroeconomic environment is the goal of most companies;
this is not the case for gold and silver producers. In the silver
and gold sectors, there is a rapid expansion of the profit
margins, which is super bullish.
Do you think that gold and silver hedge their production too
forward, given that a number of analysts are looking at long-term
gold prices of around $1,000/oz.?
I think companies should do that if they don't believe in their
product. As opposed to the 1960s and 1970s, it is not just the
U.S. this time-it's the whole Western world. So I can understand
Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX:TSX; ABX:NYSE)
hedging because it doesn't seem to believe in its product that
much. That's why it went out and bought Equinox Minerals Ltd.
(EQN:TSX; EQN:ASX), a copper company instead of one of the
numerous gold companies trading at gross undervaluations.
Barrick spent $6B to dehedge.
I think it did start hedging its silver. And Equinox is a primary
copper company. So Barrick has some tremendous issues there. I'm
not buying stock if the company is hedging its primary
production. If it is a primary gold producer and it is hedging
gold, it's not a gold company. The reason for buying these shares
is to get the leverage to the higher gold prices, and if a
company is hedging its gold production, then you're not getting
Junior miners can hedge to ensure that they'll have the funding
to bring on more projects, that they'll have the necessary
capital requirements. I have no problem with that, going one or
two years out.
Revett Minerals Inc. (RVM:TSX; RVMIF:OTCBB)
did to keep itself alive 18 months ago.
A couple of companies mentioned in your report "Treasure Hunting
for Precious Metal Stocks" have forward-sold their production.
Alexco Resource Corp. (AXR:TSX; AXU:NYSE.A)
, which sold 25% of its silver production to Silver Wheaton.
That's a different case. Silver Wheaton is almost like a bank. It
provides financing in exchange for a certain amount of the
production at a given price. Alexco (one of my personal
favorites) was in need of capital and went that route, avoiding
shareholder dilution and taking on potentially dangerous amounts
of debt, making it the most logical choice at the time.
It was the earliest stage that Silver Wheaton had bought into a
precious metals play.
The grades for Alexco are spectacular. It has the highest grades
of any primary silver production company that we've looked
Do you expect those grades to continue at the Bellekeno mine?
Definitely. It's starting to rehabilitate Lucky Queen and Onek.
This district is great because Alexco can bring on these other
deposits in about 12 months with very low capital expenditures. I
was talking to a geologist and he was estimating $13 million (
) for one of them, which is nothing, especially given Alexco's
cash on hand of more than $40M coupled with positive operating
cash flow. This whole district is filled with numerous, very
high-grade deposits. There are six identified so far.
The AuRico and Northgate deal comes on the heels of
Trelawney Resources Inc. (TRR:TSX.V)
Augen Capital (AUG:TSX.V)
. Are we seeing the beginnings of a fresh wave of consolidation
in the small- and mid-cap resource sector?
Prior to the Northgate proposal, Northgate was going to acquire
Primero Mining Corp. (PPP:NYSE; P:TSX)
Goldcorp Inc. (G:TSX; GG:NYSE)
Andean Resources Ltd. (AND:TSX, AND:ASX)
Kinross Gold Corp. (K:TSX; KGC:NYSE)
Red Back Mining Inc. (RBI:TSX)
and then AuRico acquired Capital Gold. So there's been a constant
flow. It will accelerate once the whole market is convinced that
higher precious metal prices are here to stay.
Coeur d'Alene made lots of acquisitions in a short time span to
get the Palmarejo mine, and it took on debt, it diluted
shareholders and it struggled when the markets collapsed. The
other companies look at Coeur d'Alene as a cautionary tale. They
don't mind paying a little bit higher price for the assets that
they're bringing in as long as their producing mines are actually
cash flowing a good amount more.
Silvercorp Metals Inc. (SVM:TSX; SVM:NYSE)
is buying private companies.
Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. (FVI:TSX; FVI:Lima
Crocodile Gold Corp.'s (CRK:TSX; CROCF:OTCQX)
silver property in Peru. Some juniors over the next 12-36 months
will get taken out by the really high-quality juniors, producers
looking to replace depleted reserves and/or expand their
production profiles and growth pipelines, like
Argentex Mining Corp. (ATX:TSX.V; AGXM:OTCBB)
and Revett Minerals.
Seabridge Gold Inc.'s (SEA:TSX; SA:NYSE.A)
KSM project. That's an enormous gold deposit in Canada, but it's
going to cost $3B-$5B just to construct. I'm surprised Barrick or
someone else hasn't come in and bought it yet. That's telling me
that the seniors don't have that much conviction at this point in
One of the issues there is
Pretium Resources Inc. (PVG:TSX)
I would assume it would be a joint deal.
So you wouldn't just be taking out Seabridge-you'd have to take
out Pretium, too. There's a study under way as to whether or not
it is feasible to combine these projects.
Another example being
Detour Gold Corp. (DGC:TSX)
, which has the ability to produce upwards of 1 million ounces
(Moz.) annually. Someone like
Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM:NYSE)
or Barrick could easily acquire a company such as Detour,
allowing it to both increase production growth profiles and
Detour seems to have pretty much the same plan that Osisko Mining
Corp. (OSK:TSX) had. I wouldn't be surprised if it pulled it off
without a takeover, if it actually made it into production
without a major coming into play.
Yes, because I'm guessing Detour will acquire Detour Lake Block
A, owned by Trade Winds Ventures Inc. (TWD:TSX.V). It's adjacent
to the main deposit. That could become well over 1 Moz. per year
after all the mill and optimization.
In your research report "Treasure Hunting for Precious Metal
Stocks," you list what you consider to be the top 15 undervalued
precious metal stocks.
We issued the report a couple of months ago, but there are still
a lot of amazing values. We really like
Aurcana Corp. (AUN:TSX.V)
, because we think it's going to be the next
Great Panther Silver Ltd. (GPR:TSX;
in terms of the momentum play and the pop, over the next 18
months as the Shafter mine comes on-line. If management can
deliver the construction of the mine and production starts on
time and hits the numbers, Aurcana is going to have a humongous
amount of production growth, more than any other silver junior in
the next 18 months, and that is going to translate into large
earnings growth. Management is planning on up-listing the stock
to the regular TSX and then to a major American exchange. That is
going to create a big pop in the stock for Aurcana. Longer term,
Shafter also has a really good exploration upside and a lot of
silver relative to the base metals.
In terms of the other juniors in the report, Revett Minerals
and Argentex Mining are two of the top. Revett has a pretty large
institutional interest, and it has an equity position from Silver
Wheaton. Silver Wheaton owns about 15% of the total shares
outstanding for Revett. The reason that Silver Wheaton is
interested in the stock, and the reason that pretty much everyone
is interested in the stock, is because of Rock Creek. It is one
of the top 10 undeveloped silver projects left in the world, and
it is arguably the best undeveloped silver project left in the
U.S., and in North America for that matter.
For those not familiar with Rock Creek, this deposit has been
in the legal process since the early to mid-'90s, and it is
almost through that. There's already some production there from
Revett Minerals, through its Tory Mine, which produces about 1
Moz./year silver production and 11 million pounds (Mlbs.)/year
copper production. That is hedged right now, but those hedges are
expiring at the end of the year. The local government, the state
government and the people there all want the jobs that the mining
would create as long as it is done environmentally responsibly.
Rock Creek already has an NI 43-101 resource of well over 200
Moz. of silver and a couple billion pounds of copper resource.
That is for a project that it hasn't been fully explored yet. If
the company were to spend another year or two fully drilling out
the property and then add the expanded resource into a new mining
production plan for when Rock Creek gets built, it is not out of
the realm of possibilities that the silver resource could
Mines Management Inc. (MGN:NYSE.A) has its massive Montanore
deposit right next to Revett's Rock Creek deposit and the
Montanore deposit already has a similar-sized resource to what
Rock Creek is listed at. Revett has a large land package to still
explore at Rock Creek, too.
For someone who is willing to let things play out while
Argentex releases the new resource estimate upgrades and all the
preliminaries-the prefeasibility and the feasibility-I think
Argentex is going to be a potential tenbagger in three to five
years with patience. The Pinguino deposit is a complicated
deposit, but in a good way. If Argentex fast tracks things, it
can put a near-surface, open-pit mine into production in the next
three years for its lower grade silver and gold part of the
deposit. It already has a nice preliminary economic assessment on
5 Moz. of silver resource that the market is not valuing anywhere
close to fair value. It also has and a little bit of gold. It is
obviously expanding that resource quite a lot by the end of the
year. The resource calculations are going to be a significant
expansion. That is going to get cash moving quickly. But the real
home run for the company is in the polymetallic, the sulfide,
part of the deposit, although that will take more time to get
It is quite a bit deeper, so production costs are going to be
quite a bit higher. But with these grades on the silver, there
will be a massive amount of more than 2,400 grams/ton (g/t) in a
250 meter (m) long x 400m deep x ~6m thick ore shoot. Since it is
polymetallic and there are great grades of indium along with
solid grades of gold, lead and zinc mixed in with the high grades
of silver and indium, it's very valuable rock. There is a lot of
indium in there with the silver at good grades. The U.S.
Geological Survey is saying there is only 10 years left of indium
supply at current production and demand levels. Indium is
primarily used in thin-film solar panels and flatscreen TVs. So
there could be growth in demand for indium as long as this
current technology continues to expand.
AngloGold Ashanti Ltd.'s (AU:NYSE; ANG:JSE;
Cerro Vanguardia mine is right next door to Argentex, and it is
in production. The Pinguino deposit shares the Tranquilo trend.
Anglo is exploring their deposit further and now hitting drilling
hole results at this deposit at more than 3,000 g/t silver and
more than 9 g/t gold at pretty good strike lengths. Pinguino
shares the same fault line. The polymetallic part of the deposit,
the sulfide part, shares the same fault line.
So it is a long strike?
Yes. The fault line is pretty massive around there. Anglo used to
own the Pinguino deposit and the land package as well but it
realized that there wasn't going to be enough gold for it to turn
Pinguino into an economic primary gold deposit. But Anglo
realized there would be enough silver there for Pinguino to be a
primary silver deposit so it sold the property off to a junior
like Argentex to develop as a primary silver mine.
Are there any other names you want to talk about?
I'll talk about a few larger ones. I am really into the streaming
and royalties companies because of the fixed cost structure,
which will prevent margin contraction should input costs start to
rise. One is Silver Wheaton. Another is
Franco-Nevada Corp. (FNV:TSX)
, which is trading on the TSX. It's larger than
Royal Gold Inc. (RGL:TSX; RGLD:NASDAQ)
. The federal government just accepted a refilling for the
necessary permitting of one of its streaming acquisitions,
Prosperity, that didn't get permitted initially. It will be run
by Taseko Mines Ltd. (TK:TSX; TGB:NYSE.A), and it will add 66,000
oz./year attributable to Franco, which is pretty large for a
streaming company at a $400/oz. ongoing purchase price. It's
up-listing on September 8. The good thing about it is it has a
monthly dividend, so you get the compounding effect as opposed to
the quarterly dividend.
Fortuna is also a good play. Its San Jose mine just came
on-line. One of my favorites for the last two years has been
Sandstorm Resources, which split into two companies:
Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (SSL:TSX.V)
Sandstorm Metals & Energy Ltd.
. Sandstorm Gold is headed by the former chief financial officer
of Silver Wheaton. It spun out a sister company with metals (base
metals) and energy, so it is the first to apply the streaming
concept into the base metals and energy sector. In one year, it
has already managed 10 legitimate streams.
Is that fraught with more risk, given the base metal crisis?
Sandstorm Metals & Energy only has one base metal stream to
date, but its purchase price is $0.80/lb. of copper, and if the
price of copper drops below $2.75/lb., the purchase price per
pound drops to $0.55/lb. Sandstorm has guaranteed minimum cash
flows negotiated in several of its streaming agreements. It has
met coal, thermal coal, oil and gas, copper and natural gas
streams, and is looking to add uranium, iron-ore, geothermal and
other base metals. Sandstorm Metals & Energy recently did an
equity offering, and is currently suffering from the equity
offering hangover, but it gives it plenty of ammunition if
lucrative deals present themselves. Nolan Watson was the one who
pioneered the streaming concept (along with Peter Barnes and
others at Silver Wheaton), so this management is just incredible.
Sandstorm Gold and Sandstorm Metals & Energy both have fewer
than 15 people working. They have low selling, general and
administrative expenses and pay minimal income tax. They have
found high-quality assets that have already shown a lot of
exploration upside. Sandstorm Gold is the only 100% gold
royalty/streaming company aggressively seeking additional gold
purchase agreements on top the seven already in place. In other
words, they have figured out how to create companies highly
involved in capital intensive industries without the heavy
capital requirements, making them free cash flow machines, which
will translate into dividend juggernauts within a few years.
What are your parting thoughts on the precious metals sector as
we head into the fall?
I think it is going to be typical, another bullish run in the
metals. This time I'm actually expecting the miners to play
catch-up instead of lag bullion.
Gold will touch $2,000/oz. probably, at least test $2,000/oz. by
the end of the year, and then it will correct a little before
blowing through $2,000/oz. For silver, we are going to see silver
at least test $50/oz. in the next two to three months, and
$50/oz. is a very tough resistance point for silver. It is the
old nominal Hunt Brothers high. It might not pass through $50/oz.
on the next try, but once it does, we'll see it make a run pretty
quickly into the $66-$67/oz. range.
If people take a longer view, two to three years out, it is
really not going to matter if the miners underperform bullion in
the short term. I hear a lot of people complaining that "my
mining stocks haven't done this or that." But if you hit a couple
tenbaggers or 400% gains on say two to three stocks out of every
10-15 stocks you pick, and you are doubling your money every
18-24 months on some of these stocks, you can't complain if they
are lagging for six, seven or eight months. I've been investing
in this sector for quite a few years now, and it is just not
something that you can worry about in the short term. It might
definitely underperform in the short term, but the numbers are
going to be so good. The profit margins are expanding. The
fundamentals are there, and they're improving. All we are waiting
for now is the psychological, fundamental paradigm shift when
more fund managers, more mutual funds and more pension funds say,
"Hey, these gold stocks are all raising their dividends. Profit
margins are expanding rapidly, production and earnings are rising
and we see increasing potential for both capital gains AND
dividends from producers. We're going to buy and hold more of
these. We're going to continue to add positions and accumulate
these shares because this sector is going to outperform the rest
of the market in a major way for the next few years at the very
minimum." We are nowhere near the late stages of this secular,
bull market for mining stocks, but we will be in a couple of
years. This is going to make the tech bubble look faint once
things are finally up and running, because many of the producers
will actually have the earnings to justify much higher valuation
Thank you for your insights.
is an investor, entrepreneur, financial historian, Austrian
School economist, and contrarian. Jason co-founded the startup
financial education company
Wall St for Main St, LLC
, to try to help the people of Main Street by teaching them the
knowledge, skills, research methods, and investing expertise of
Wall Street. You can also find Jason's work at his blog website
is currently a portfolio strategist for the Vishni Fund LP of
Vishni Capital and as a contributor to the Morgan Report. For
anyone interested in learning more about the Vishni Fund, which
is entirely focused in the precious metals industry, visit
Vishnicapital.com or email him at
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1) Brian Sylvester 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
The Gold Report:
Minefinders Corp., Primero Mining Corp., Goldcorp Inc., Silver
Mines Inc., Crocodile Gold Corp., Pretium Resources Inc., Great
Panther Silver Ltd., Franco-Nevada Corp., Royal Gold Inc.
3) Jason Burack: I personally and/or my family own shares of the
following companies mentioned in this interview: Sandstorm Gold
Ltd., Alexco Resource Corp., Silver Wheaton Corp., Coeur D'Alene
Mines Corp., Aurcana Corp., Revett Minerals Inc., Argentex Mining
Corp., First Majestic Silver Corp., Minefinders Corp. I
personally and/or my family am paid by the following companies
mentioned in this interview: None.
4) Chris Marchese: I personally and/or my family own shares of
the following companies mentioned in this interview: Minefinders
Corp., Franco-Nevada Corp. common and warrants, Royal Gold Inc.,
Silver Wheaton Corp., Sandstorm Gold Ltd., Sandstorm Metals &
Energy Ltd., AuRico Gold Inc., Silvercorp Metals Inc., Primero
Mining Corp. warrants, Fortuna Silver Mines Inc., Alexco Resource
Corp. I personally and/or my family am paid by the following
companies mentioned in this interview: None.
The Gold Report
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