Friday, 22 March 2013

Eric Coffin - Resource Sector Paradigm Shift

Eric Coffin of Hard Rock Advisory on the state of the miners. HERE . Discusses the renewed focus on smaller higher margin deposits.

Another article HERE at Bloomberg suggesting break up of the large miners to release value, "shrink to grow" allowing smaller groups to replace reserves, show growth, provide cleaner geographical and management focus with less mines.

Perhaps the contrarian view is that there is value in large advanced resources which could advance with a new move in the gold price ahead of cost inflation. The majors, under pressure from shareholders due to recent failures, are afraid of big projects and there will be less demand and pressure on industry wide mine design, build and operating service costs leaving the field open for smaller companies and private capital.

As an example, consider Newmont's sale of the large Hope Bay project (acquired from Miramar in 2007 for $1.5bn for 10.7m oz resource) to privately held TMAC Resources. Directors at TMAC previously cashed out of FNX mining and are involved with Torex Gold, one of the strongest juniors. The Hope Bay project has sunk development costs which saw Newmont take a $1.6bn writedown when they put it on care and maintenance in 2012. One key risk appears to be in reaching agreements with First Nations. (and HERE) Some steps in developing these relationships with "KIA" look to be underway. TMAC may consider the project in a different way, concentrating on vein mining. Perhaps Hope Bay will also serve as a test case for First Nations to reach agreements knowing that miners will walk away from projects, especially in remote regions like Nunavut, north of the Arctic Circle.

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