Saturday 15th August 2020

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Posts tagged ‘platinum’

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return: GlobalData

April 28th, 2020

by Greg Klein | April 28, 2020

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return GlobalData

 

As of April 27 some 729 mines worldwide remain suspended, down from more than 1,600 shutdowns on April 3. The numbers, released by GlobalData, reflect government decisions to declare the industry an essential service, as well as implementation of new health standards and procedures. Those efforts, often involving staff reductions, contribute to “a slow return for the industry,” stated the data and analytics firm.

“Silver production is currently being severely damaged by lockdown measures,” pointed out GlobalData mining analyst Vinneth Bajaj. “As of 27 April, the equivalent of 65.8% of annual global silver production was on hold. Silver mining companies such as First Majestic, Hochschild, Hecla Mining and Endeavour Silver have all withdrawn their production guidance for 2020 in the wake of the outbreak.

Mining resumes under COVID-19 but faces slow return GlobalData

“Progress has also been halted on 23 mines under construction, including the US$5.3-billion Quellaveco copper mine in Peru, which is one of the world’s biggest copper mines currently under development…. In Chile, while a lockdown is not in force, Antofagasta has halted work on its Los Pelambres project and Teck Resources has suspended work on the Quebrada Blanca Phase II mine.”

Jurisdictions that have lifted suspensions include Quebec, India, Argentina, Zimbabwe and South Africa, GlobalData added. Countries with government-ordered lockdowns still in force include Bolivia (until April 30), Namibia (May 4), Peru (May 10) and Mexico (May 30).

At least one Mexico operator, Argonaut Gold TSX:AR, plans to re-open on May 18 under an exception for businesses operating in municipalities with few or no cases of COVID-19.

Quebec’s resumption of mining drew strong criticism from Makivik Corporation, which represents the Inuit of the province’s Nunavik region.

“Makivik will not entertain the opening of any mines at this time in Nunavik. This is very dangerous,” said corporation president Charlie Watt on April 17. “The Inuit-elected officials in the communities and in the different regional organizations need to be heard and need to make the decisions and call the shots.”

One day later production resumed at Glencore’s Raglan nickel mine. The company stated that Nunavik authorities have banned travel between the mine and regional villages to protect the local population. Local workers stay home with compensation, while the mine employs workers from the south, including Inuit who live in the south.

Without question this is taking a toll on all of our mines and service/supply companies.—Ken Armstrong, NWT and
Nunavut Chamber of Mines

Six mines still operating in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories use similar staffing precautions. “The mines are operating with reduced workforces which they must fly in by charter from as far away as eastern Canada,” said NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Ken Armstrong. “To protect vulnerable northern communities from the virus they have sent their local employees home with pay and they are maintaining costly and unplanned virus protection measures.”

Meanwhile Labrador politicians expressed concern about renewed operations at Champion Iron’s (TSX:CIA) Bloom Lake mine on the Quebec side of the Labrador Trough. On April 28 VOCM radio reported that MP Yvonne Jones asked the company to avoid the Wabush airport in her riding and transport employees entirely through Quebec. Member of the House of Assembly Jordan Brown said contractors were making unnecessary trips to the Newfoundland and Labrador side.

Another pandemic-caused Quebec mining suspension will stay on care and maintenance due to market forces. Renard owner Stornoway Diamond stated, “Despite positive signs in the diamond market in early 2020, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the entire marketing chain and diamond price collapse.”

Prior to the suspension, Renard operated only through creditor support.

Another diamond casualty has been the Northwest Territory’s Ekati mine, which suspended operations last month. Majority owner Dominion Diamond Mines received insolvency protection on April 22.

Discovered in 1991 and opened in 1998, Ekati “provided nearly 33,000 person-years of employment, and $9.3 billion in business spending, with over half the benefits (51% of jobs and 69% of spending) going to northern residents and businesses,” the Chamber stated. “Billions of dollars in various taxes and royalties have also been paid to public and indigenous governments by the mine.”

Gaia Metals finds new drill targets through updated geophysical analysis

April 16th, 2020

by Greg Klein | April 16, 2020

A gold-polymetallic project in Quebec’s James Bay region shows additional potential following re-evaluation of previous data. On behalf of Gaia Metals TSXV:GMC, Dynamic Discovery Geoscience applied new methods and software to a 1998 induced polarization and resistivity survey over the Golden Gap area of the Corvette-FCI property. With greater geological insight, Gaia now sees a different trend of mineralization that has yet to be drilled, along with additional strike extensions, and parallel and sub-parallel trends.

Gaia Metals finds new drill targets through updated geophysical analysis

Gaia Metals’ polymetallic potential expands,
thanks to modern re-interpretation of historic data.
(Photo: Gaia Metals)

The project comprises Gaia’s 100%-held Corvette claims and a 75% earn-in from Osisko Mining TSX:OSK spinout O3 Mining TSXV:OIII on the FCI-East and FCI-West blocks.

Historic, non-43-101 results from Golden Gap include samples up to 108.9 g/t gold, and a drill intercept of 10.48 g/t gold over seven metres. Areas of interest also include the Elsass and Lorraine prospects, the latter showing an outcrop sample of 8.15% copper, 1.33 g/t gold and 171 g/t silver. Lithium-tantalum channel samples from the CV1 pegmatite reached up to 2.28% Li2O and 471 ppm Ta2O5 over six metres.

The new interpretation finds two separate trends to a previously identified signature. A northern trend strongly corresponds with the historic samples up to 108.9 g/t gold. A less-intense southern trend doesn’t correspond with high-grade sampling. Yet it was the southern trend that was drilled to follow an historic intercept of 10.5 g/t gold over seven metres, even though that trend doesn’t correlate with the mineralized zone in that drill hole.

Outcrop samples collected last year found new gold occurrences along strike to the west, “further supporting the interpreted trend in this direction and significantly amplifying the potential,” Gaia stated. “The western trend outlined in the IP-resistivity data continues to the boundary of the survey, indicating it extends further west.”

Additional areas correlate with surface samples grading between 1 and 3 g/t gold, showing targets that are “parallel to sub-parallel to the main mineralized trend and occur within an area of approximately 2.5 kilometres east-west by 1.5 kilometres north-south,” the company added. “Each of these prospective targets and trends remains to be drill-tested.”

In February the company announced a geological review that highlighted the project’s potential for nickel, copper and platinum group elements. An historic outcrop sample from the Lac Long Sud area brought 3.1 g/t gold, 1.06 g/t palladium, 0.005 g/t platinum, 7.5 g/t silver, 0.24% copper, 0.19% nickel and 411 g/t cobalt. Despite those grades, little of the historic work and none of last year’s samples were assayed for PGEs. “Hence these seemingly isolated results necessitate further geochemical analysis in future exploration programs.”

Among other assets, Gaia’s portfolio includes the Pontax lithium-gold property in Quebec, the Golden silica property in British Columbia and a 40% interest in the Northwest Territories’ Hidden Lake lithium property.

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

December 3rd, 2019

by Greg Klein | December 3, 2019

After adding results from a ZTEM MVI inversion magnetic survey, estimates of the Pecors anomaly double in size.

 

The Serpent River property shows enhanced prospects for nickel, copper, gold, platinum and palladium, according to a recent compilation and analysis of geophysical data. International Montoro Resources TSXV:IMT reported two likely massive sulphide targets over the project’s Pecors anomaly. Now measured to about 5.7 kilometres by 4.2 kilometres by 2.2 kilometres, the anomaly extends to twice the size of a previous estimate.

International Montoro Resources finds greater massive sulphide potential at Elliot Lake, Ontario

A 2015 drill program tested the property’s magnetic anomaly.

The findings come from Mira Geoscience, considered a pioneer of advanced geological and geophysical modelling. The firm analyzed data using its Geoscience Analyst 3D visualization and exploration platform.

Following a 2007 VTEM survey, Montoro sunk two holes totalling 2,322 metres in 2015. One hole intersected a magnetic anomaly’s source, a gabbro body with minor sulphides showing nickel, copper and PGE values near the base. The other hole also intersected the gabbro, finding low-grade gold, platinum, palladium, copper and nickel values, the company stated.

“In essence we are exploring for a massive sulphide nickel-copper-PGE-gold deposit,” said president/CEO Gary Musil.

Last October the company announced a 51% earn-in on the 2,250-hectare Camping Lake property in Ontario’s Red Lake district. In British Columbia’s Cariboo region, Montoro completed rock and soil sampling last July on its 2,138-hectare property bordering Defense Metals’ TSXV:DEFN Wicheeda rare earths project.

Montoro’s portfolio also includes two northern Saskatchewan uranium properties held 50/50 with Belmont Resources TSXV:BEA.

Visual Capitalist looks at palladium—the secret weapon in fighting pollution

August 20th, 2019

by Nicholas LePan | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | August 20, 2019

Despite the growing hype around electric vehicles, conventional gas-powered vehicles are expected to be on the road well into the future.

As a result, exhaust systems will continue to be a critical tool in reducing harmful air pollution.

The power of palladium

This infographic comes to us from North American Palladium TSX:PDL, and it shows the unique properties of the precious metal and how it’s used in catalytic converters around the world.

In fact, palladium enables car manufacturers to meet stricter emission standards, making it a secret weapon for fighting pollution going forward.

 

Visual Capitalist looks at palladium the secret weapon in fighting pollution

 

The world is in critical need of palladium today. It’s the crucial metal in reducing harmful emissions from gas-powered vehicles—as environmental standards tighten, cars are using more and more palladium, straining global supplies.

What is palladium?

Palladium is one of six platinum group metals which share similar chemical, physical and structural features. Palladium has many uses, but the majority of global consumption comes from the autocatalyst industry.

In 2018, total gross demand for the metal was 10,121 million ounces (Moz), of which 8,655 Moz went to autocatalysts. These were the leading regions by demand:

  • North America: 2,041 Moz

  • Europe: 1,883 Moz

  • China: 2,117 Moz

  • Japan: 859 Moz

  • Rest of the world: 1,755 Moz

Catalytic converters: palladium versus platinum

The combustion of gasoline creates three primary pollutants: hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Catalytic converters work to transform these poisonous and often dangerous chemicals into safer compounds.

In order to control emissions, countries around the world have come up with strict emissions standards that auto manufacturers must meet, but these are far from the reality of how much pollution is emitted by drivers every day.

Since no one drives in a straight line or in perfect conditions, stricter emissions testing is coming into effect. Known as Real Driving Emissions, these tests reveal that palladium performs much better than platinum for typical driving uses.

In addition, the revelation of the Volkswagen emission scandal (known as Dieselgate) further undermines platinum use in vehicles. As a result, diesel engines are being phased out in favour of gas-powered vehicles that use palladium.

Where does palladium come from?

If the world is using all this palladium, where is it coming from?

Approximately 90% of the world’s palladium production comes as a byproduct of mining other metals, with the remaining 10% coming from primary production.

In 2018, there was a total of 6.88 million ounces of mine supply primarily coming from Russia and South Africa. Conflicts with or within these jurisdictions present significant risks to the global supply chain. There are a few North American jurisdictions, such as Ontario and Montana, which present an opportunity for more stable primary production of palladium.

Long road to extinction

The current price of palladium is driven by fundamental supply and demand issues, not investor speculation. Between 2012 and 2018, an accumulated deficit of five million ounces placed pressure on readily available supplies of above-ground palladium.

Vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) will continue to dominate the roads well into the future. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, it will not be until 2040 that ICE vehicles will dip below 50% of new car sales, in favour of plug-in and hybrid vehicles. Stricter emissions standards will further bolster palladium demand.

The world needs stable and steady supplies of palladium today, and well into the future.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Visual Capitalist looks at how platinum improves our world

July 11th, 2019

by Nicholas LePan | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | July 11, 2019

 

Visual Capitalist looks at how platinum improves our world

 

Within the hierarchy of precious metals there is only one metal that could arguably stand above gold, and that is platinum.

This is due in large part to the metal’s rarity throughout history. Its earliest known use was on the Casket of Thebes in ancient Egypt. South American indigenous populations also used platinum for jewelry.

But platinum’s value goes beyond being a precious metal—its specific properties have made it indispensable to the modern economy, improving both the health and the wealth of the world.

Platinum’s industrial applications

This infographic comes to us from the World Platinum Investment Council and outlines specifically how platinum’s properties are used in the modern economy.

There are four primary uses of platinum aside from investment demand: manufacturing, health care, environmental and renewable power. Let’s look into all of these cases a little deeper.

1. Manufacturing

Platinum’s versatility in manufacturing has quadrupled its demand since 1980. Its catalytic properties are critical to the production of fertilizers and, more specifically, platinum’s efficiency in converting ammonia to nitric acid paved the way for large-scale fertilizer production.

Around 90% of the nitrogen produced using platinum catalysts is used to make 190 million tonnes of fertilizers each year.

2. Health care

Platinum is a biologically compatible metal because it is both non-toxic and stable. It does not react negatively with or affect body tissues, which makes it an ideal material for medical tools. Platinum’s use in medicine dates back to 1874 for its use in arthroscopic tools. Its stability also makes it ideal for pacemakers and hearing-assist devices today.

While non-threatening to healthy cells, platinum compounds known as cisplatin can damage cancer cells and treat testicular, ovarian, lung, bladder and other cancers. Given these crucial applications, the World Health Organization has put cisplatin on its list of essential medicines.

3. Environmental

Platinum is a critical material in the fight for cleaner air and in the construction of energy-efficient fibreglass. It is used in catalytic converters in exhaust systems of gas-powered vehicles, reducing the emission of harmful pollutants. In addition, platinum is used in the manufacturing process of high-end glass that improves the heating and cooling efficiency of homes and offices.

4. Renewable power

Platinum’s catalytic properties make it critical to cleaning up air pollution, producing renewable hydrogen, and unleashing its power in fuel cells. Electrolysis, which can turn water into hydrogen and oxygen, works best when passing an electric current through platinum electrodes.

Fuel cells are set to power a new generation of emission-free vehicles, and platinum membranes are used inside of them as well.

More than precious

More than a precious metal, platinum has many applications that will make it a critical material for the modern economy in years to come.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

The Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

September 4th, 2018

by Greg Klein | September 4, 2018

Impractical but legal tender just the same, the Royal Canadian Mint’s latest batch of coins features, not for the first time, a world first. This one’s an oval- and concave-shaped one-kilo 99.99% silver coin. Using innovative techniques to portray a traditional theme, it shows a boatload of voyageurs having “just cleared a treacherous cascade, their canoe almost launching itself from this incredibly sculpted and immersive design.”

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

The oval shape “beautifully frames the design while its concave shape heightens the sense of perspective,” the Mint enthused. “The ultra-high relief delivers incredible depth and dimension which are further enhanced by the coin’s antique finish.” The result “showcases incredible artistry and the Mint’s technical prowess that has made it a global leader for over a century.”

Although hardly the Mint’s largest coin, this one sells for 10 times its face value of $250. Just 400 copies have been struck.

This certainly isn’t the first time voyageurs have canoed a course across Canadian coins. A pair of paddlers predominated on silver dollars in circulation between 1935 and 1986. The same duo would have reappeared in 1987, when Canada struck a new coin to replace $1 notes, had the dies not gone missing on their way to the Mint’s coin-casting facility. As a result, Canada got stuck with the loonie, a less inspiring but arguably more representative image of our contemporary society.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Something of an anomaly among the Canadian-themed releases announced September 4 was Superman: The Last Son of Krypton. Justified by the fifth anniversary of the hero’s Canadian numismatic debut, the fame of Canadian comic book artist Jason Fabok and maybe also the man of steel’s Canadian co-creator, Joe Shuster, the $100 10-ounce silver coin actually serves as a base for a gold-plated statue. It sells for $1,199.95.

Presenting an icon more commonly associated with Canada and the North, another coin/statue shows a whale tail extending from the surface as a humpback takes a deep dive. With each hand-carved soapstone sculpture unique, the five-ounce $50 silver coin costs $549.95.

Another arctic scene employs another Mint innovation, that of dimensional paint. This shows a polar bear cub cautiously approaching the water while its mother and sibling swim below surface, who are seen as if “looking through water.” The 62-gram $30 silver piece sells for $199.95.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Among several other issues available this month, the Mint celebrates the 30th anniversary of its platinum coin, “still recognized as one of the purest in the world, a sought-after piece whose maple leaf is the unmistakable symbol of outstanding Canadian craftsmanship.” The four-piece set goes for $4,999.95.

As a maker of numismatic history itself, the Mint commemorates a little-known aspect of historic Canadian currency with its Playing Cards of New France release. Due to a shortage of coins in 1685, playing cards with handwritten notations served as currency. Although intended as a temporary measure, “card money was re-issued and circulated like modern-day banknotes until 1759,” the Mint reveals.

In recognition of the practice, four 1.5-ounce silver pieces with narrow rectangular proportions represent the king of each suit. With a face value of $25 each, the set costs $649.95 and comes with a complete deck of paper cards.

Royal Canadian Mint makes history to commemorate history

Read more about the Royal Canadian Mint.

Streamers turn to cobalt as Vale extends Voisey’s Bay nickel operations

June 11th, 2018

by Greg Klein | June 11, 2018

It was a day of big moves for energy minerals as China bought into Ivanhoe, Vale lengthened Voisey’s and streaming companies went after the Labrador nickel mine’s cobalt.

On June 11 Robert Friedland announced CITIC Metal would pay $723 million for a 19.9% interest in Ivanhoe Mines TSX:IVN, surpassing the boss’ own 17% stake to make the Chinese state-owned company Ivanhoe’s largest single shareholder. Another $78 million might also materialize, should China’s Zijin Mining Group decide to exercise its anti-dilution rights to increase its current 9.9% piece of Ivanhoe.

Streamers turn to cobalt as Vale extends Voisey’s Bay nickel operations

At peak production, Voisey’s underground operations are expected to
ship about 45,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate annually to Vale’s
processing plant at Long Harbour, Newfoundland.

Proceeds would help develop the flagship Kamoa-Kakula copper-cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Platreef platinum-palladium-nickel-copper-gold mine in South Africa, as well as upgrade the DRC’s historic Kipushi zinc-copper-silver-germanium mine. Ivanhoe and Zijin each hold a 39.6% share in the Kamoa-Kakula joint venture.

Even bigger news came from St. John’s, where Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball joined Vale NYSE:VALE brass to herald the company’s decision to extend Voisey’s Bay operations by building an underground mine.

The announcement marked the 16th anniversary of Vale’s original decision to put Voisey (a Friedland company discovery) into production. Mining began in 2005, producing about $15 billion worth of nickel, copper and cobalt so far. Open pit operations were expected to end by 2022. Although a 2013 decision to go ahead with underground development was confirmed in 2015, the commitment seemed uncertain as nickel prices fell. That changed dramatically over the last 12 months.

With construction beginning this summer, nearly $2 billion in new investment should have underground operations running by April 2021, adding at least 15 years to Voisey’s life. The company estimates 16,000 person-years of employment during five years of construction, followed by 1,700 jobs at the underground mine and Long Harbour processing plant, with 2,135 person-years in indirect and induced employment annually.

Nickel’s 75% price improvement over the last year must have prodded Vale’s decision. But streaming companies were quick to go after Voisey’s cobalt. In separate deals Wheaton Precious Metals TSX:WPM and Cobalt 27 Capital TSXV:KBLT have agreed to buy a total of 75% of the mine’s cobalt beginning in 2021, paying US$390 million and US$300 million respectively. They foresee an average 2.6 million pounds of cobalt per year for the first 10 years, with a life-of-mine average of 2.4 million pounds annually.

Both companies attribute cobalt’s attraction to clean energy demand and a decided lack of DRC-style jurisdictional risk. But Vale also emphasizes nickel’s promise as a battery metal. Last month spokesperson Robert Morris told Metal Bulletin that nickel demand for EVs could rise 10-fold by 2025, reaching 350,000 to 500,000 tonnes.

Total nickel demand currently sits at slightly more than two million tonnes, Morris said. New supply would call for price increases well above the record levels set this year, he added.

Who’s doing what, and why?

May 10th, 2018

Four banks manipulate six commodities to manage other markets, says Ed Steer

by Greg Klein

Probably the most facile way to dismiss a conspiracy theorist is to label the person “a conspiracy theorist.” Conventional thinking gives the term negative connotations, even though history and current events have an inconvenient tendency to reveal conspiracies in action. Ed Steer’s interest in bullion manipulation started with the Hunt brothers’ 1970s silver conspiracy. Having spent decades watching the machinations of others, the newsletter writer and Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee board member adamantly declares that “there are no markets, just interventions.”

Four banks manipulate six commodities to manage other markets, says Ed Steer

Ed Steer speaks at the International Mining
Investment Conference, held in
Vancouver on May 15 and 16.

Drawing on the work of GATA and analyst Ted Butler, Steer believes precious metals “have been managed actively” in the COMEX futures market since 1973. Price suppression supports “the paper game they’re playing in the stock and bond markets,” a game that’s continued since the U.S. dropped the gold standard in 1971, he argues.

“We’ve had a complete blow-up of paper assets because of unlimited money printing. They don’t want that showing up in the commodities market because the moment that it does, all the paper’s going to rush out of Wall Street, the bond market, the Dow and every other index, and into gold and silver in particular and commodities in general. And that’s not what they want to happen.”

If those two metals merit suppression, so do platinum and palladium. “You couldn’t have a $3,000 or $4,000 platinum price while gold’s sitting at $1,200,” he states. “People would start asking questions.”

Not just bullion but, more recently, copper and crude too. “If you can control the prices of those six, you can pretty well control the prices of other commodities, whether they’re wheat, oats, sugar, lumber or whatever. There will be circumstances of course when supply-demand factors in some commodities will cause a run-up in prices. But overall, they keep those six commodities under price control and, when they do that, they can control everything else.”

Who are they? He attributes special prominence to JPMorgan Chase. “They’re the biggest players in all four precious metals, and they’re also in the crude oil market to a certain extent. It’s JPMorgan Chase, HSBC USA, Scotiabank here in Canada, and most likely Citigroup, but JPMorgan is by far the ringleader. There may be some investment houses involved as well like Morgan Stanley and I think Goldman Sachs, which is now a bank. So it’s the Wall Street paperhangers, four or five of them versus everybody else. There’s also lots of foreign banks involved, maybe up to 30, but their positions are very, very minor compared to the big traders that control almost 50% of the COMEX futures market in gold right now.

Four banks manipulate six commodities to manage other markets, says Ed Steer

“This is total collusion. They all buy at the same time, they all sell at the same time…. There’s no free market in any of this.”

Now, with the gold-silver ratio sometimes surpassing 80 to one, Steer blames this extraordinary divergence on the same tactics.

“JPMorgan has taken silver down from $49 in 2011 all the way to $16 or $17, and they’ve held it there. If the gold-silver ratio were even close to normal it would be around 25 or 30 to one. Of course that would be double or triple the silver price that we have today, and even that doesn’t fully take into account supply and demand. As far as I’m concerned the silver price should be well over $100 an ounce by now and the ratio should be about 20 to one.”

Oil presents another example. “It’s up over 30% since the middle of December. The gold price has done basically nothing. That’s not what normally happens. When oil prices rise, it’s a sign that commodity prices will rise and of course gold and silver are normally the leading indicators. The metals aren’t being allowed to function as leading indicators because they’re trying to get the oil price up without affecting gold and silver prices—and they’ve done an awesome job of that.”

It doesn’t make any difference how many bombs fall on Syria, Iraq or Iran, or what the supply-demand situation is. It all depends on what’s happening in the COMEX futures market.

External forces play little or no role, he maintains. “It doesn’t make any difference how many bombs fall on Syria, Iraq or Iran, or what the supply-demand situation is. It all depends on what’s happening in the COMEX futures market.”

He does concede, however, “If things got really extreme, if downtown Tehran disappeared under a mushroom cloud, that would probably move the markets.”

But sometime in the foreseeable future, those in control will have to let bullion rise, he adds. “It’s very hard to defend this price right now. Demand is exceeding supply, certainly in gold. They’re going to have to increase the prices in both gold and silver, but whether they’ll allow prices to run free remains to be seen. They might just allow gold to rally $300 or $400 or so, and up to $50 in silver, and hold the prices at that new level. But they’re going to have to let it go sooner or later and I think the day is coming sooner.”

That would mean the two metals do offer a safe haven after all. “I think this COMEX futures paper game is going to end pretty soon and those who were already positioned are going to reap substantial rewards. It’s better to be a year or two early rather than five minutes or two days late.”

Ed Steer speaks at the International Mining Investment Conference, held in Vancouver from May 15 to 16. For a 25% admission discount click here and enter the code RESOURCECLIPS.

Read about conference speakers Jayant Bhandari and Simon Moores.

Silver supply deficit fails to boost price, Silver Institute study finds

April 16th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 16, 2018

Notwithstanding a decline in production, silver fell slightly in price and lost further ground to gold last year, according to the World Silver Survey 2018. Prepared by Thomson Reuters for the Silver Institute, the 28th annual study reported total supply of 991.6 million ounces in 2017, compared with physical demand of 1,017.6 million ounces. The 26-million-ounce deficit grew to 35.2 million ounces when ETP and exchange inventory increases were factored in.

Silver supply deficit fails to boost price, Silver Institute study finds

But at $17.05, the average price represented a 0.5% year-on-year drop. The metal ended the year at $16.87, having traded between $15.22 and $18.56 during 2017.

While recycling provided most of the remaining supply, the year’s global mine production came to 852.1 million ounces. That represented a 4.1% decline attributed largely to “supply disruptions in the Americas,” most notably Guatemala, where Tahoe Resources TSX:THO had its Escobal mining licence suspended, and the U.S., where a strike beginning in March 2017 forced Hecla Mining NYSE:HL to slash production at its Lucky Friday mine. Australia and Argentina also showed considerable declines.

Canada, ranking 14th for silver production, extracted 12.7 million ounces last year, compared with 13 million in 2016.

Meanwhile, gold has been leaving silver behind. Year-end prices for 2016 showed the yellow stuff selling for 71.4 times the price of its poorer cousin. The 2017 gold:silver ratio averaged 73.9:1, hitting 77:1 by year-end, “a high level that perhaps suggests that the market is trying to tell us something,” Thomson Reuters stated. “We suspect the high gold:silver ratio indicated that the market had been expecting another major crisis could be looming, or at the least that it was about time for equities correction, and therefore investors had been accumulating physical gold in the market.”

Another precious metal also paled in comparison with gold, which ended 2017 at an historical high of 1.4 times the price of platinum.

But investors looking at silver and platinum’s catch-up potential should consider “gold’s role as a safe haven and that some smart money has been hedging against geopolitical risks and potential correction in equities,” the study added.

New in numismatics: Ovoid-shaped black light coin commemorates Manitoba UFO sighting

April 4th, 2018

by Greg Klein | April 4, 2018

The story was weird enough to elicit disbelief, possibly all the more because the source was a prospector. But something very odd must have caused the burns Stefan Michalak suffered in the Manitoba woods one day in 1967. His explanation was a UFO. Now the Royal Canadian Mint has commemorated the Falcon Lake Incident with a rather weird item of its own—an unevenly elliptical glow-in-the-dark $20 one-ounce silver coin.

New in numismatics Ovoid-shaped black light coin commemorates Manitoba UFO sighting

For dramatic effect, as the Mint explains, “photo-luminescent outlines of the UFO, its beam-like blast and the silhouette of an injured Michalak, glow in the dark under black light. This phenomenal keepsake, and many other new arrivals, are now available for purchase.” A small black light flashlight’s included.

But, as Michalak’s son emphasized to the CBC last year, Stefan never claimed to have seen anything from outer space. He simply described what he did see. He even speculated that it might have been a secret U.S. military vessel. UFO researcher Chris Rutkowski called it “possibly Canada’s best-documented UFO case.”

Just 4,000 copies of the coin have been minted. With a face value of $20, it costs only $129.95.

New in numismatics Ovoid-shaped black light coin commemorates Manitoba UFO sighting

(Images: Royal Canadian Mint)

Taking unusual contours to an even more unusual level, the Mint also released a set of two yin-yang-shaped pieces that fit together to form a one-ounce silver circle. Suggesting “harmony and balance among opposing forces,” yin and yang each have a $10 face value. But the set will cost you $164.95.

Among the more striking designs recently struck is “an ultra-high relief engraving” of the Kwakwaka’wakw Thunderbird image, likely to send chills down the spine of anyone not already shivering in the West Coast rainforest’s lingering winter. Another one-ounce silver coin, this one sells for $149.95.

Some imaginative February releases included a $250 gold coin embedded with 17 rubies and platinum plating to evoke the Queen’s Burmese Tiara. Limited to 175 copies, it costs $6,999.95 with three- or four-month payment plans available. February also saw the Mint’s first five-ounce curved or convex coin, the silver $50 Maple Leaves in Motion. It goes for $579.95 but 99% of the 2,000 coins have been sold.

Each of the collector’s items comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Canada’s coin-casting Crown corporation credits itself as “one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world.”