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Are There Any Great, New Mining Stocks Left?
Where are the hot and cold spots around the world for resource investors? The stampeding bull market in commodities has investors reaching for new ideas. Highly respected newsletter writer Lawrence Roulston of “Resource Opportunities” favors Canada, Alaska and China for investing in mining and energy companies. StockInterview: Let’s get the cold spots out of the way so investors are forewarned about which countries to avoid. Lawrence Roulston: A lot of the (mining) companies that went overseas in decades back are recognizing the political difficulties with dealing in some jurisdictions. These include places like Indonesia, Columbia, and several of the African countries, such as Congo, Sudan and Eritrea. All of those places where there are great geological prospects, but are more and more risky to deal in.
I think some of that mining is coming back closer to home, which is right here in Canada. StockInterview: So Canada is on your “favorite countries” list? Lawrence Roulston: At the very top of the list would be Canada. As of right now, taking into account the geological potential, political situation, infrastructure and all the other issues, I would (highly) rate Canada and British Columbia. They have had decades of work. But for the last decade, there hasn’t been very much going on.
The companies are just coming back and picking up with what’s been going on. Similarly, Ontario, Quebec – tremendous geological potential – and it’s been kind of ignored for a long time. Canada is now the most important place in the world for diamonds, representing 50 percent on exploration spending for diamonds. StockInterview: Is there a specific mineral or metal that makes Canada especially appealing? Lawrence Roulston: It’s the whole gambit. Canada has always been one of the top metal producers, and it’s coming back to life. Of course, gold is at the top of the list, but also base metals and uranium. The Athabasca Basin in northern Saskatchewan is far and away the most important area to be looking at, geologically. It’s currently the biggest source of uranium and contains the highest grade deposit. There are other uranium prospective areas in Canada that are just emerging. The Thelon Basin in the Northwest Territories, north of the Athabasca Basin, is very similar, geologically, to the Athabasca Basin.
It had some work done in the 1970s, and it’s been pretty much ignored until very recently. Going a little further north to Hornby Basin, it is a similar kind of situation. In Labrador, the central mineral belt is just emerging as a very important place to be looking for uranium. StockInterview: Do you have any favorite companies, which you are following and which have good prospects? Lawrence Roulston: NovaGold Resources (TSX: NG; Amex: NG), for example, with the Galore Creek. It’s a billion ton deposit with enormous metal content. (Editor’s Note: Galore Creek has been called one of the largest and highest grade undeveloped porphyry-related gold-silver-copper deposits in North America.) StockInterview: What is another of your favorite areas, which has gone largely undetected during this bull market? Lawrence Roulston: Nevada would be at the top of the list of anywhere in the world to be working and Alaska right behind it. There is huge potential in Alaska. Mining companies have only scratched the surface of exploration up there. Two of the largest metal deposits in the world are in Alaska.
These are both discoveries going back decades, but work over the last couple of years has brought them to the point where they’re now recognized as among the largest metal deposits in the world: Donlin Creek, a 25-plus million ounce gold deposit, and the Pebble deposit, held by Northern Dynasty (TSX: NDM). The Pebble deposit is significantly larger than, and of comparable grade to, Ivanhoe’s (NYSE: IVN) Oyu Tolgoi (copper-gold) deposit in Mongolia. (Editor’s Note: The Donlin Creek project is a joint venture between NovaGold and Barrick Gold.) StockInterview: Anywhere else in the world where you can find a great, but still “new” resource investment opportunity, in light of how hard the commodities bull has been stampeding the past few years? Lawrence Roulston: Often the better value to be had, or the better opportunity, is in being a little bit out of step with the crowd. One of the areas offering some outstanding opportunities is China. China has done a tremendous amount of geological work, over the last few decades, but all from the perspective of finding, and then quickly developing, small deposits. There has been very little effort devoted to taking a bigger picture type look at China. The companies that have been able to take a kind of bigger picture look at China have begun to develop what I think are going to be some pretty spectacular results over time. StockInterview: Isn’t it tough, though, doing business in China? Lawrence Roulston: There is still a perception out there that China is a difficult place to do business. Most people from the west walk into China cold and try to do a deal.
It would be impossible for them. But, for western companies that are able to team up with groups that are well established within China – so that they’re able to find their way through the system over there – then there are outstanding opportunities. There are mountains of geological information – all in Chinese, of course. You’ve got to be able to work within that system and get the information, know how to put the deals together. StockInterview: What do you mean by “knowing how to put the deals together?” Lawrence Roulston: If I was to go over to China and try to do a deal to get access to a coalbed methane property, I wouldn’t have a clue about how to begin. On the other hand, I could walk into the Petroleum Club in Calgary, and meet a half dozen guys and talk to them. I could build on my leads, and probably in a day be talking about a deal. When you go into China, unless you have somebody on your team that can get into the system and deal with the people, because of language issues, cultural issues and just having access to the information and knowing what sort of terms that they might be looking for… It’s a different culture from every perspective, and not the least of which is a different way of doing business. StockInterview: In your April issue, you recommended one company, which overcame those hurdles, meets your criteria and already has a coalbed methane deal in China.
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