Gold Mining Industry Becomes Attractive To Capital Markets
By Vin Maru
Over the past summer we suggested that we would see more money become available to quality mining projects from banks sitting on tons of cash ready to loan out on credit worthy projects in their ever increasing need for higher yield. In our September 11th, 2012 blog post we stated that “Project funding will become available via bank loans on favourable projects; we can expect alot of money coming into the resource space and new projects will move towards production”.
Here is an exerpt from the TDV Golden Trader newsletter sent out to subscribers on July 23, 2012:
I suspect alot of that money will come into the commodities market and especially into the mining sector. There are many great projects which show great preliminary economic studies with today’s current prices of commodities. Banks can provide the funds necessary to help put projects into production by way of corporate bonds or loans with higher interest rates. Even with a 7-10 % rate, many of these projects are very economical, provide a positive IRR and have short payback period (3-5 years). Potential producers should really look at this option for funding their projects, the interest rates are reasonable and this would eliminate the need for further dilution.
It is also in the bankers’ best interest in making these loans to the various development projects for many reasons. First, they will be making a much higher positive yield over the next 3-5 years than most other fixed income investments. They can probably become first in line as a creditor guaranteeing their investment and using the company assets and reserves to help determine valuations as possible collateral. Also, their funds are probably safer at a cash flow positive producing mine versus buying bonds of a pig country that can only make interest payment by robbing Peter to pay Paul. In their need to make secure investments, banks can also guarantee their payments will not be interrupted by keeping a floor under the commodities prices. This floor price can be achieved by forcing the producer to hedge part of their production at current prices, thus guaranteeing a predictable minimum future cash flow.
Lately we have seen more debt offerings, issuance of debentures and credit being given to mining companies who can prove strong economics on new projects or expansion to current mining operations. Here are few examples from the last few months:
Stornoway Diamond Corp. (TSX:SWY) has entered into a mandate letter with seven financial institutions concerning debt financing for the company’s Renard diamond project in northern Quebec. The mandated lead arrangers are Bank of Montreal, Caterpillar Financial, Export Development Canada, Investissement Quebec, Nedbank Capital Limited (London Branch), Societe Generale (Canada Branch) and The Bank of Nova Scotia which will arrange senior loans of up to $475 million, the company says.
Lake Shore Gold Corp. (“Lake Shore Gold” or the “Company”) (TSX:LSG)(NYSE MKT:LSG) announced today that the Company has completed the previously announced public offering (the “Offering”), on a “bought deal” basis, of C$90 million principal amount of 6.25% convertible senior unsecured debentures (the “Debentures”) maturing on September 30, 2017.
Kirkland Lake Gold Announces $50 Million Private Placement of Convertible Debentures – The Debentures will mature on June 30, 2017 (the “Maturity Date”), unless earlier redeemed, and will bear interest, accruing, calculated and payable semi-annually in arrears on June 30 and December 31 of each year, at a rate of 6.0%.
While the quality juniors have been able to raise capital in the last year, most are still finding it difficult to raise funds. In the past, small producers and exploration companies relied on the capital markets to raise funds by way of private placement and issuing shares which have been highly dilutive and overall negative for investors in these companies. We have a feeling that many juniors will be able to raise capital in this market, but they will have to be creative in their approach to getting funding deals done without diluting shareholders.
Private Sector Enters the Gold Mining Industry
However, the nature and investing climate for the mining sector has changed recently. We are now seeing investment funding and credit becoming available to mining companies from the private sector. Cluff Gold (TSX:CFG) a West Africa focused gold mining company recently announced a strategic alliance with Samsung C&T Corporation where Samsung will provide an unhedged US$20M facility to Cluff Gold in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU also provides a framework for the potential long term funding of Cluff’s Baomahun project and other development opportunities.
In my opinion, Samsung, being a visionary in the electronics industry, has realized it needs to make strategic investments with its cash in order to protect purchasing power and secure availability of gold and silver to be used in its products. This is a game changer and as fiat paper currencies get destroyed by the central banks and governments, the smart money will continue to gravitate towards gold, the true store of wealth. This could be the start of a new trend where private sector corporations start paying attention to gold as currency and hedge against paper assets. I would expect this trend to continue as more private companies and fund manager will find a need to diversify out of paper money and into the currency of last resort: gold. While it may be difficult for these companies and institution to buy the physical metal on the open market, the smart money will go right to the source and get invested where profits can be maximised, which means going to the miners.
We are in next phase of this bull market in precious metals, and gold and silver will continue to move higher now that printing money to infinity has become official policy. It will be the miners who are still undervalued and have growth potential that will really benefit from this next round of QE and rising gold prices. Expect to hear more stories about investments coming to the mining sector and as this trend grows, so will the attention being paid to the minors. While the ETFs may be a good way to trade the price of metals rising, the leverage and exponential gains will be made with selecting the right mining company. The next leg of this bull market will benefit the miners and they could easily outperform the gold price over the next few years, this is where we see the real gains to be made.
I will be speaking at the Cambridge House Toronto Resource Investment Conference on September 27 and 28, 2012. You may register here to attend the show. I will be presenting a 30 minute workshop on Friday the 28th at 4:00 pm on “Trading Opportunities: Looking for Catalysts and Developing Strategies to Trade Precious Metals Shares”. On Thursday morning I will also be a panel speaker alongside Bill Murphy, Chris Powell, and Jay Taylor discussing gold’s diminishing supply and increasing demand.
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