Infographic: The Future of Gold Exploration is Under Cover
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The Future of Gold Exploration is Under Cover

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The Future of Gold Exploration is Under Cover

The Future of Gold Exploration is Under Cover

Over billions of years, extraordinary amounts of gold and other metals were deposited and spread throughout the Earth’s crust. Humans have been searching for these rich deposits for centuries, and advances in geoscience and technology have helped us become more adept at finding them over time.

However, even with today’s advancements – almost all early-stage prospecting methods are still based on the same key principle: trying to find areas of exposed bedrock, called outcrops, that indicate an orebody is near.

But such outcrops only form in certain circumstances – and what happens when a geological system doesn’t come in contact directly with the surface?

The Problem of Cover

Today’s infographic comes to us from Nevada Exploration, and it identifies the problem behind finding these “hidden” deposits that do not leave a helpful trail of clues on the surface.

Instead of having outcrops where rocks can be readily sampled, these deposits are trapped underneath large amounts of soil and gravel. Geologists call this a covered setting, where they must first find a way to “see through” the cover in order to identify what geological systems really exist below.

Seeing through cover can be expensive and difficult to do, but it also has big potential upside.

There is no reason not to assume as much gold still exists as has been mined in the past, but prospectors, explorationists, and geologists have found the easy gold.

– Dr. Richard Goldfarb, Ph.D., United States Geologic Survey

In fact, many geologists think that the next game-changing gold deposit could be found under cover.

Exploration 2.0

For explorers, it is no secret that the cost per discovery is going up dramatically over time. The reality is that traditional exploration methods are achieving diminishing returns, and as a result companies are settling for lower grade deposits, more complex geological settings, and politically questionable jurisdictions.

Minex Consulting says that between 2007-2016, there has been $65 billion spent globally on gold exploration with only $30 billion worth of discoveries to show for it. Those aren’t exactly inspiring economics for future gold explorers.

But for every industry problem, there is often a precedent to be found elsewhere – and an interesting situation that is analogous was faced by the oil exploration industry years ago. They had reached diminishing returns with shallow water deposits, and developed technology to go deeper. Suddenly, monster deposits were being found again.

Experts involved in mineral exploration see the same thing happening with cover.

With the transition to under cover exploration, the minerals industry is undergoing a transformation much like the petroleum industry transformed to deep sea exploration some decades ago.

– Cam McCuaig, Principal Geoscientist, BHP Billiton

In other words: whoever can figure out how to explore under cover could be reaping big benefits.

The Prize

In the world’s most prolific gold jurisdictions, there are massive amounts of land that have not yet been explored because of cover. In Canada and in Australia, over 70% of land is covered. In Nevada, which produces the most gold ounces per square kilometer, about 55% of land is covered.

Interestingly, Nevada has produced 225 million oz of gold to date, but the majority of these discoveries have come from outcrop clues on the surface. Imagine what gold could be hidden under soil and gravel within the valleys of the state.

Global data so far suggests that deposits discovered under cover tend to be 2-4x bigger.

Exploring Under Cover

While the idea of unlocking this potential is extremely exciting, it also poses a significant technical challenge.

Conventional tools are poorly suited to covered settings, and existing techniques for systematic exploration don’t work. The end result is high-risk, high-cost exploration.

To successfully explore through cover, companies need:

  • New technology to see through cover
  • A way to lower the costs of testing targets
  • A way to directly test covered bedrock

So far, a few ideas have been pioneered for seeing through cover – and it will be interesting to see what results they bring in.

Biogeochemistry: In Australia, explorers are using biogeochemistry as a hint to see what lays beneath the soil. Plants accumulate pathfinder elements in them, or even tiny amounts of gold, which allows explorers to get a hint at what lies deep below.

Hydrogeochemistry: In a place like Nevada, there are massive valleys in the middle of prolific gold districts that have remained unexplored because they are covered with hundreds of meters of gravel. Testing groundwater might be the key, because groundwater flows by gravity from mountains to deep in the valley centers. On the way, this water interacts with bedrock – and any gold deposits that are hidden beneath the surface.

Explorers are looking at other ideas as well, ranging from regional-scale mapping to adapting other oil and gas industry techniques. If any of them are able to unlock the secret of exploring through cover, it could be the catalyst for industrywide change, as well as the discovery of the monster deposits that will meet our mineral needs of the future.

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Gold

How Gold Royalties Outperform Gold and Mining Stocks

Gold royalty companies shield investors from inflation’s rising expenses, resulting in stronger returns than gold and gold mining companies.

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gold royalty company returns compared to gold and gold mining companies
The following content is sponsored by Gold Royalty
Infographic on gold royalty company returns

How Gold Royalties Outperform Gold and Mining Stocks

Gold and gold mining companies have long provided a diverse option for investors looking for gold-backed returns, however royalty companies have quietly been outperforming both.

While inflation’s recent surge has dampened profits for gold mining companies, royalty companies have remained immune thanks to their unique structure, offering stronger returns in both the short and long term.

After Part One of this series sponsored by Gold Royalty explained exactly how gold royalties avoid rising expenses caused by inflation, Part Two showcases the resulting stronger returns royalty companies can offer.

Comparing Returns

Since the pandemic lows in mid-March of 2020, gold royalty companies have greatly outperformed both gold and gold mining companies, shining especially bright in the past year’s highly inflationary environment.

While gold is up by 9% since the lows, gold mining companies are down by almost 3% over the same time period. On the other hand, gold royalty companies have offered an impressive 33% return for investors.

In the graphic above, you can see how gold royalty and gold mining company returns were closely matched during 2020, but when inflation rose in 2021, royalty companies held strong while mining company returns fell downwards.

 Returns since the pandemic lows
(Mid-March 2020)
Returns of the past four months
(July 8-November 8, 2022)
Gold Royalty Companies33.8%1.7%
Gold9.1%-1.7%
Gold Mining Companies-3.0%-8.6%

Even over the last four months as gold’s price fell by 1.7%, royalty companies managed to squeeze out a positive 1.7% return while gold mining companies dropped by 8.6%.

Gold Royalty Dividends Compared to Gold Mining Companies

Along with more resilient returns, gold royalty companies also offer significantly more stability than gold mining companies when it comes to dividend payouts.

Gold mining companies have highly volatile dividend payouts that are significantly adjusted depending on gold’s price. While this has provided high dividend payouts when gold’s price increases, it also results in huge dividend cuts when gold’s price falls as seen in the chart below.

chart of gold royalty company dividends vs gold mining company dividends

Rather than following gold’s price, royalty companies seek to provide growing stability with their dividend payouts, adjusting them so that shareholders are consistently rewarded.

Over the last 10 years, dividend-paying royalty companies have steadily increased their payouts, offering stability even when gold prices fall.

Why Gold Royalty Companies Outperform During Inflation

Gold has provided investors with the stability of a hard monetary asset for centuries, with mining companies offering a riskier high volatility bet on gold-backed cash flows. However, when gold prices fall or inflation increases operational costs, gold mining companies fall significantly more than the precious metal.

Gold royalty companies manage to avoid inflation’s bite or falling gold prices’ crunch on profit margins as they have no exposure to rising operational expenses like wages and energy fuels while also having a much smaller headcount and lower G&A expenses as a result.

Along with avoiding rising expenses, gold royalty companies still retain exposure to mine expansions and exploration, offering just as much upside as mining companies when projects grow.

Gold Royalty offers inflation-resistant gold exposure with a portfolio of royalties on top-tier mines across the Americas. Click here to find out more about Gold Royalty.

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The Next Generation of Uranium Deposits

Canada’s Athabasca Basin has the highest-grade uranium deposits in the world.

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The following content is sponsored by Skyharbour Resources

The Next Generation of Uranium Deposits

Government policies are shifting in favor of nuclear energy as countries try to reduce carbon emissions.

Unlike coal, oil, or gas, nuclear power plants produce little to no CO₂. As a result, nuclear is the second largest source of low-carbon electricity in the world, behind hydropower.

In this infographic from Skyharbour Resources, we look closely at the next generation of uranium deposits necessary to power up the nuclear sector.

The Uranium Supply Squeeze

Roughly 440 nuclear reactors operating worldwide generate around 10% of the world’s electricity annually.

In the United States, for example, nuclear energy provides 52% of carbon-free electricity, and in the European Union, it accounts for 43%. In three European countries, the share of nuclear energy in the electricity mix exceeds 50%.

RankCountryNuclear Share of Electricity Mix
1France 🇫🇷70.6%
2Slovakia 🇸🇰53.1%
3Ukraine 🇺🇦51.2%
4Hungary 🇭🇺48.0%
5Bulgaria 🇧🇬40.8%
6Belgium 🇧🇪39.1%
7Slovenia 🇸🇮37.8%
8Czechia 🇨🇿37.3%
9Armenia 🇦🇲34.5%
10Finland 🇫🇮33.9%
11Switzerland 🇨🇭32.9%
12Sweden 🇸🇪29.8%
13South Korea 🇰🇷29.6%
14Spain 🇪🇸22.2%
15Russia 🇷🇺20.6%
16Romania 🇷🇴19.9%
17United States 🇺🇸19.7%
18Canada 🇨🇦14.6%
19United Kingdom 🇬🇧14.5%
20Germany 🇩🇪11.3%

All of the world’s nuclear reactors are powered by uranium. They require approximately 67,500 tonnes of uranium annually. However, the uranium market has been in a growing deficit since 2015, with the widening demand-supply gap being filled by civil stockpiles and secondary sources.

The World Nuclear Association expects a 27% increase in demand between 2021 and 2030.

In addition, the recent energy crisis following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led investors to the uranium market, betting on nuclear energy to shift away from fossil fuels. In this scenario, new uranium mines are expected to come online in the next decade to meet the demand.

The World’s Richest Uranium Region

Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of uranium, accounting for roughly 13% of total global output.

The country’s Athabasca Basin has the highest-grade uranium deposits in the world, with grades that are 10 to 100 times greater than the global average. The Northern area covers almost a quarter of Saskatchewan and a small portion of Alberta.

The region— sometimes described as the “Persian Gulf of uranium” — is home to Cameco’s Cigar Lake, the world’s richest uranium mine.

According to the Fraser Institute, Saskatchewan ranks as the second-best mining jurisdiction in the world. The province appears only behind Western Australia regarding geologic attractiveness, government policy, and attitudes toward exploration investment.

In recent years, many uranium companies have made uranium discoveries in the basin, with Skyharbour Resources among them. The company holds an extensive portfolio of fifteen uranium exploration projects, ten of which are drill-ready, covering 450,000 hectares of mineral claims.

The U.S. Nuclear Future

While the Biden Administration is urging lawmakers to pass a $4.3 billion plan to purchase enriched uranium from domestic producers, the country’s production is still considered small in scale.

For this reason, Athabasca Basin and companies like Skyharbour Resources are expected to play a key role in the U.S.’ nuclear future.

Skyharbour Resources is becoming an industry leader in high-grade Canadian uranium exploration needed for nuclear power and clean energy.

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