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How to Avoid Common Mistakes With Mining Stocks (Part 1: Team)

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For investors and speculators focused on growth, there is nothing more exciting than watching a stock go “on a run” for a big return.

Junior mining stocks, which are small publicly-traded companies that are aiming to make big discoveries, are well-known for being extremely high in both risk and reward.

But with a universe of thousands of available companies out there, how does an investor even begin to evaluate opportunities in this sector?

An Investor Checklist

We’ve partnered with Eclipse Gold Mining on an infographic series to show you how to avoid common mistakes when evaluating and investing in mining exploration stocks.

Part 1 of the series focuses on what to look for in a management team, including the types of characters you’ll want to avoid!

How to Avoid Common Mistakes With Mining Stocks (Part 1: Team)

If you’ve ever researched mining exploration stocks before, it doesn’t take long to realize that every company will talk about how “great” their team is.

Here’s a few steps to ensure that the team is actually great — and not filled with pretenders.

Management Team Checklist

Step 1: Avoid the Bad Characters
The mining stock universe can be filled with interesting and amusing characters, but many of them are not there to generate you a return. Here are the personas you should aim to avoid:

  1. The Close-ologist
    Funds new enterprises by staking land around a project that the market currently finds exciting.
  2. The Trend Chaser
    Jumps from industry to industry, or mineral to mineral, to chase the market’s flavor of the week.
  3. The Pump n’ Dumper
    Accumulates stock at insanely low prices, raises money, and then uses gray-area promotional strategies. Sells stock as soon as price is high enough to make a profit.
  4. The Commodity Collector
    Builds up an extensive list of ongoing assets and projects, thinking that this reduces risk. But really, it just reduces focus.
  5. The Lifestyle Executive
    Uses shareholder money almost exclusively to fund the salaries of management and other G&A expenses. Almost no actual work gets done.
  6. The Optimistic Geologist
    This is usually the pet project of a geologist, and the project may have some merit. However, time is the enemy of the Optimistic Geologist.

It’s also not impossible for CEOs to exhibit two or more of these personas at once, so beware.

Step 2: Traits You Want to See

Examine the management team and the board of directors, and dig deep into their history. Here’s what you want to actually see:

Wanted TraitsDescription
A clear vision Management has articulated a clear vision for the company and how it will create value for shareholders.
Winning track record Management has made previous discoveries and has successfully exited companies in the past, taking shareholders along for the ride.
Skin in the game" Simply put, management owns sufficient shares of the company (not just options) and has the incentive to succeed.
Transparency Management has a history of integrity, being honest with shareholders in every circumstance.
Relevant expertiseManagement has hired a team that has relevant experience, knowledge, and connections that can help advance the vision.
Business mindsetManagement has a plan to generate ROI for shareholders and knows how to execute on that plan.

Step 3: Past Performance

Finally, look to see how the management team in question has handled situations in the past. The following questions will help you evaluate:

  • Have they been able to consistently fund projects in the past, even in bad markets, without overdiluting shareholders?
  • Is the team well-rounded? Do they have expertise covering multiple fields?
  • Did they do what they said they’d do, while sticking to timelines?
  • Does the team have connections to major mining companies, major banks, or other important institutions?
  • Has the team successfully exited from their previous ventures?

The De-risking Imperative

You can’t control everything that happens in the market.

But by successfully de-risking each management team with these criteria, you can better your odds at success in a high-risk, high-reward market.

This is part 1 of a five-part series on common mistakes made by investors when evaluating mining exploration stocks. Stay tuned for the upcoming parts in the series, covering other topics like jurisdiction, project quality, and more.

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Base Metals

All the World’s Metals and Minerals in One Visualization

This massive infographic reveals the dramatic scale of 2019 non-fuel mineral global production.

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All the World’s Metals and Minerals in One Visualization

We live in a material world, in that we rely on materials to make our lives better. Without even realizing it, humans consume enormous amounts of metals and minerals with every convenient food package, impressive building, and technological innovation.

Every year, the United States Geological Service (USGS) publishes commodity summaries outlining global mining statistics for over 90 individual minerals and materials. Today’s infographic visualizes the data to reveal the dramatic scale of 2019 non-fuel mineral production.

Read all the way to the bottom; the data will surprise you.

Non-Fuel Minerals: USGS Methodology

A wide variety of minerals can be classified as “non-fuel”, including precious metals, base metals, industrial minerals, and materials used for construction.

Non-fuel minerals are those not used for fuel, such as oil, natural gas and coal. Once non-fuel minerals are used up, there is no replacing them. However, many can be recycled continuously.

The USGS tracked both refinery and mine production of these various minerals. This means that some minerals are the essential ingredients for others on the list. For example, iron ore is critical for steel production, and bauxite ore gets refined into aluminum.

Top 10 Minerals and Metals by Production

Sand and gravel are at the top of the list of non-fuel mineral production.

As these materials are the basic components for the manufacturing of concrete, roads, and buildings, it’s not surprising they take the lead.

RankMetal/Mineral2019 Production (millions of metric tons)
#1Sand and Gravel50,000
#2Cement4,100
#3Iron and Steel3,200
#4Iron Ore2,500
#5Bauxite500
#6Lime430
#7Salt293
#8Phosphate Rock240
#9Nitrogen150
#10Gypsum140

These materials fertilize the food we eat, and they also form the structures we live in and the roads we drive on. They are the bones of the global economy.

Let’s dive into some more specific categories covered on the infographic.

Base Metals

While cement, sand, and gravel may be the bones of global infrastructure, base metals are its lifeblood. Their consumption is an important indicator of the overall health of an economy.

Base metals are non-ferrous, meaning they contain no iron. They are often more abundant in nature and sometimes easier to mine, so their prices are generally lower than precious metals.

RankBase Metal2019 Production (millions of metric tons)
#1Aluminum64.0
#2Copper20.0
#3Zinc13.0
#4Lead4.5
#5Nickel2.7
#6Tin0.3

Base metals are also the critical materials that will help to deliver a green and renewable future. The electrification of everything will require vast amounts of base metals to make everything from batteries to solar cells work.

Precious Metals

Gold and precious metals grab the headlines because of their rarity ⁠— and their production shows just how rare they are.

RankPrecious Metal2019 Production (metric tons)
#1Silver27,000
#2Gold3,300
#3Palladium210
#4Platinum180

While metals form the structure and veins of the global economy, ultimately it is humans and animals that make the flesh of the world, driving consumption patterns.

A Material World: A Perspective on Scale

The global economy’s appetite for materials has quadrupled since 1970, faster than the population, which only doubled. On average, each human uses more than 13 metric tons of materials per year.

In 2017, it’s estimated that humans consumed 100.6B metric tons of material in total. Half of the total comprises sand, clay, gravel, and cement used for building, along with the other minerals mined to produce fertilizer. Coal, oil, and gas make up 15% of the total, while metal makes up 10%. The final quarter are plants and trees used for food and fuel.

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Gold

Silver Series: Perfect Storm for Silver (Part 2 of 3)

In the second part of the Silver Series, we show that the supply and demand fundamentals are potentially shaping up for a perfect storm in silver prices.

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Silver Series Part 2

The Silver Series: A Perfect Storm for Silver (Part 2 of 3)

In Part 1 of the Silver Series we showed how precious metals can be a safe haven during times of volatility in a debt-laden era.

Today’s infographic is Part Two of the Silver Series, and it comes to us from Endeavour Silver, outlining some of the key supply and demand indicators that precede a coming gold-silver cycle in which the price of silver could move upwards.

Silver Fundamentals

Silver is produced primarily as a by-product in the mining of non-precious metals, and there is currently a dwindling supply of silver as a result of low base metal prices.

However, silver is more than just a precious metal and a safe haven investment. Its industrial uses also create a significant demand on silver stocks.

As the production of green technologies such as solar cells and EVs quickly escalates, upward pressure is being placed on the price of silver, indicating the potential start of a new gold-silver cycle in the market.

Investment Demand

Just like gold, silver has functioned as a form of money for centuries, and its role as a store of value and hedge against monetary inflation endures.

Currency debasement is not new. Governments throughout history have “printed” money while silver’s value has held more constant over time.

In today’s age, the average investor does not own physical silver. Rather, they invest in financial instruments that track the performance of the physical commodity itself, such as silver exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Until recently, ETF investment in precious metals has been relatively flat, but there has been a surge in the price of silver. Meanwhile, demand for silver-backed financial products have increased the demand for physical silver and could continue to do so.

Industrial Demand

Silver is also helping to power the green revolution.

The precious metal is the best natural conductor of electricity and heat, and it plays an important role in the production of solar-powered energy. A silver paste is used in photovoltaic solar cells which collects electrons and creates electricity. Silver then helps conduct the electricity out of the cell. Without silver, solar cells would not be as efficient.

As investments and the green revolution demand more and more silver, where is the metal coming from?

A Perfect Storm for Silver: Supply Crunch

The bulk of silver production comes as a by-product of other metal mines, such as zinc, copper, or gold mines.

Since silver is not the primary metal emerging from some of these mines, it faces supply crunches when other metal prices are low.

Silver supply is falling for three reasons:

  1. Declining mine production due to low base metal prices
  2. Declining silver mine capacity
  3. Declining reserves of silver

The demand for silver is rising and the few companies that produce silver could shine.

Don’t miss another part of the Silver Series by connecting with Visual Capitalist.

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