Much Activity Leads to Optimism on Future
Midland Exploration Inc. (MD:TSX.V, 0.87) remains my top exploration company. It is a prospect generator, with a total of 17 active projects, seven of which are in joint ventures, option agreements, or alliances. It is very active, with $8 million spent on exploration on its properties in 2017. For the coming year, an anticipated minimum exploration budget of $6 million has been set, though this is likely to increase based on results. This will be on nine different properties, with drilling on (at least) four of these.
Several of its projects, though early stage, are potentially exciting. Recent news includes the discovery of a high-grade gold zone on the wholly owned Willbob; zinc and nickel mineralization at two properties in its James Bay alliance with Altius Minerals Corp. (ALS:TSX.V); new targets at the option with IAMGOLD Corp. (IMG:TSX; IAG:NYSE) at Heva; a new option with Niobay Metals Inc. (NBY:TSX V) at La Peltrie, and drilling on the property; a new gold zone at Casault, in joint project with Soquem Inc.; and the discovery of a copper-rich boulder field in the Eleonore area, a joint-venture with Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK:TSX). Other partners include Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM:TSX; AEM:NYSE) and Teck Resources Ltd. (TCK:TSX; TCK:NYSE).
It has also acquired several new properties in recent months, for which it is seeking partners. With cash-on-hand of around $14 million—following a flow-through (Canadian tax-qualified) raise at CA$1.35—the company is in a very strong position, and able to selective explore its 100%-owned projects. The drip into the 80s provides us with a buying opportunity.
Close to Agreement on Indonesian Mine, but at What Cost?
Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX:NYSE, 17.33) is close to an agreement with the Indonesian government of the share divestiture and other issues. It had hoped to have completed talks by the end of the year, but it appears they will stretch into the first quarter. A three-way deal including Rio Tinto Plc (RIO:NYSE; RIO:ASX; RIO:LSE; RTPPF:OTCPK)—which has rights to cash flow from the mine (40% above a certain level until 2021 and 40% after that date)—is likely. Such a deal would preserve a higher percentage of the cash flow for Freeport. The devil in the details, however, includes how and when Freeport will be paid for the shares it relinquishes.
Apart from the ongoing negotiation, the Grasberg mine (on Indonesia's Papua island) continues to have other problems. Renewed separatist activity, including shootings and a port fire, saw suspensions of mining and a reduction in production. This was offset by higher copper prices, which led to a good year for Freeport. Capital spending dropped to the lowest since 2010, while debt came down to its initial target of $10 billion.
The stock has responded to strong operational performance at the company and expectations of a near-term agreement with the government. But we await the details, suspecting that the government and Rio may come out winners. Hold.
Continuing to Advance a Project
Almaden Minerals Ltd. (AMM:TSX; AAU:NYSE, US$0.96) continues to progress toward completion of its feasibility study, while also demonstrating that the resource can grow. Drilling at the Tuligtic project is focused both on holes in connection with the feasibility study, and also step-out holes in new areas on the property.
Almaden recently released assays from recent drilling, confirming a new high-grade zone within the proposed pit at the Ixtaca deposit. Separately, it released the results of an independent social impact assessment (SIA), which shows community support for the project as well as recommendations for further interactions with local communities. Mining companies are not required in Mexico to produce SIAs; Almaden's study was prepared by a well-respected Mexican consulting group. Almaden has been very proactive in community relations throughout its time in exploring and advancing the project.
The stock has bounced from a very depressed low of $0.76 earlier in the month to the current level. We think it's still undervalued here, though, given the recent bounce we could see a pullback. Buy in the low 90s.
And Drilling Indicates a Potentially Large System
Almadex Minerals Ltd. (AMZ:TSX.V, $1.30) has also released a series of results on different parts of its large El Cobre copper-gold property, the most exciting of which have been two rounds of results from the Raya Tembrillo area on a different part of the property from the Norte zone, where most of the drilling has taken place. These holes are all intersected a zone of supergene copper. Though results are very encouraging, the company says additional drilling is needed to understand the geology. The company believes, however, that the results here and elsewhere indicate large-scale porphyry potential, with a cluster of porphyry systems.
The company is well financed, but drilling such a large system has led to discussion of bring in a partner, and possibly spinning off Almadex. We like the project and company very much, and it is undervalued here. The stock, however, has been very volatile the last six months, so we would look to buy on dips, perhaps into the $1.20s.
Adrian Day, London-born and a graduate of the London School of Economics, heads the money management firm Adrian Day Asset Management, where he manages discretionary accounts in both global and resource areas. Day is also sub-adviser to the EuroPacific Gold Fund (EPGFX). His latest book is "Investing in Resources: How to Profit from the Outsized Potential and Avoid the Risks."
Want to read more Gold Report articles 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 articles and interviews with industry analysts and commentators, visit our Streetwise Interviews page.
1) Adrian Day: I, or members of my immediate household or family, own shares of the following companies mentioned in this article: Midland Exploration. I personally am, or members of my immediate household or family are, paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None. My company has a financial relationship with the following companies mentioned in this article: None. Funds controlled by Adrian Day Asset Management hold shares of the following companies mentioned in this article: Midland Exploration, Almaden Minerals, Freeport McMoRan and Almadex Minerals. I determined which companies would be included in this article based on my research and understanding of the sector.
2) The following companies mentioned in this article are billboard sponsors of Streetwise Reports: None. Streetwise Reports does not accept stock in exchange for its services. Click here for important disclosures about sponsor fees. The information provided above is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security.
3) Statements and opinions expressed are the opinions of the author and not of Streetwise Reports or its officers. The author is wholly responsible for the validity of the statements. The author was not paid by Streetwise Reports for this article. Streetwise Reports was not paid by the author to publish or syndicate this article.
5) From time to time, Streetwise Reports LLC and its directors, officers, employees or members of their families, as well as persons interviewed for articles and interviews on the site, may have a long or short position in securities mentioned. Directors, officers, employees or members of their immediate families are prohibited from making purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise from the time of the interview or the decision to write an article, until one week after the publication of the interview or article. As of the date of this article, officers and/or employees of Streetwise Reports LLC (including members of their household) own securities of Midland Exploration, Almaden Minerals and Almadex Minerals, companies mentioned in this article.