How the World's Top Gold Mining Stocks Performed in 2020
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How the World’s Top Gold Mining Stocks Performed in 2020

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How the World's Top Gold Mining Stocks Performed in 2020

How Top Gold Mining Stocks Performed in 2020

Gold mining stocks and the GDX saw strong returns in 2020 as gold was one of the most resilient and best performing assets in a highly volatile year.

But picking gold mining stocks isn’t easy, as each company has a variety of individual projects and risks worth assessing. This is why the GDX (VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF), is one of the most popular methods investors choose to get exposure to players in the gold mining industry.

While the GDX and gold miners can generally offer leveraged upside compared to gold during bull markets, in 2020 the GDX returned 23%, just a couple of points shy from spot gold’s 25.1% return.

This graphic compares the returns of gold, the GDX, and the best and worst performing gold mining equities in the index.

Understanding the GDX ETF and its Value

The GDX is one of many index ETFs created by investment management firm VanEck and offers exposure to 52 of the top gold mining stocks.

It provides a straightforward way to invest in the largest names in the gold mining industry, while cutting down on some of the individual risks that many mining companies are exposed to. The GDX is VanEck’s largest and most popular ETF averaging ~$25M in volume every day, with the largest amount of total net assets at $15.3B.

In terms of its holdings, the GDX attempts to replicate the returns of the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index (GDM), which tracks the overall performance of companies in the gold mining industry.

How the Largest Gold Miners Performed in 2020

As a market-cap weighted ETF, the GDX allocates more assets towards constituents with a higher market cap, resulting in larger gold mining companies making up more of the index’s holdings.

This results in the five largest companies in the GDX making up 39.5% of the index’s holdings, and the top 10 making up 59.3%.

An equally-weighted index of the top five GDX constituents returned 27.3% for the year, outperforming gold and the index by a few points. Meanwhile, an equally-weighted index of the top 10 constituents significantly underperformed, only returning 18.4%.

Newmont was the only company of the top five which outperformed gold and the overall index, returning 37.8% for the year. Wheaton Precious Metals (40.3%) and Kinross Gold (54.9%) were the only other companies in the top 10 that managed to outperform.

Kinross Gold was the best performer among the top constituents largely due to its strong Q3 results, where the company generated significant free cash flow while quadrupling reported net earnings. Along with these positive results, the company also announced its expectation to increase gold production by 20% over the next three years.

The Best and Worst Performers in 2020

Among the best and worst performers of the GDX, it was the smaller-sized companies in the bottom half of the ranking which either significantly over- or underperformed.

K92 Mining’s record gold production from their Kainantu gold mine, along with a significant resource increase at their high-grade Kora deposit nearby saw a return of 164.2%, with the company graduating from the TSX-V to the TSX at the end of 2020.

Four of the five worst performers for 2020 were Australian mining companies as the country entered its first recession in 30 years after severe COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Bushfires early in the year disrupted shipments from Newcrest’s Cadia mine, and rising tensions with China (Australia’s largest trading partner) also contributed to double-digit drawdowns for some Australian gold miners.

The worst performer and last-ranked company in the index, Resolute Mining (-36.9%), had further disruptions in H2’2020 at their Syama gold mine in Mali. The military coup and resignation of Mali’s president Ibrahim Keïta in August was followed by unionized workers threatening strikes in September, slowing operations at Syama gold mine. Outright strikes eventually occurred before year’s end.

How Gold Mining Stocks are Chosen for the GDX

There are some ground rules which dictate how the index is weighted to ensure the GDM and GDX properly reflect the gold mining industry.

Along with the rules on the index’s weighting, there are company-specific requirements for inclusion into the GDM, and as a result the GDX:

  • Derive >50% of revenues from gold mining and related activities
  • Market capitalization >$750M
  • Average daily volume >50,000 shares over the past three months
  • Average daily value traded >$1M over the past three months

Gold mining stocks already in the index have some leeway regarding these requirements, and ultimately inclusion or exclusion from the index us up to the Index Administrator.

What 2021 Will Bring for Gold Mining Stocks

The GDX has had a muted start to the new year, with the index at -2.3% as it has mostly followed spot gold’s price.

Gold and gold mining stocks cooled off significantly following their strong rally Q1-Q3’2020, as positive developments regarding the COVID-19 vaccine have resulted in a stronger-than-expected U.S. dollar and a rise in treasury yields.

This being said, the arrival of new monetary stimulus in the U.S. could spur inflation-fearing investors towards gold and gold mining stocks as the year progresses.

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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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