Revett Minerals (NYSEMKT:RVM) is a mining company producing silver and copper concentrates at their fully owned Troy mine in Montana, USA. The mine was first operated in the 1980s and 90s until being put into care and maintenance owing to unfavourable metal prices. Revett Minerals took control of the mine and started operations again in 2004. Since then the Troy mine has yielded 8.4M ounces of silver and 69.5M pounds of copper. An ambitious exploration program has added to reserves and resources every year since resumption of operations leading to an estimated life of mine of 8 years at the end of 2012.
Not far from the Troy mine the company is pushing the Rock Creek project through licensing and towards a development decision. This project is one of the largest undeveloped silver and copper deposits in North America located near transport and power infrastructure; a blue-sky possibility that has one significant disadvantage: it is located next door and partially within a Wilderness Area. Licensing efforts for this potential mine is now in its 29th year but Revett seems optimistic that a home stretch in the licensing marathon has been reached.
Presumably, income from the Troy mine was to be used for mine development at Rock Creek; however, presumably plans have changed since an earthquake shook the Troy mine in December 2012 and operations had to be suspended. Apparently an underground haulage way was damaged by the shake and the company has been working towards re-routing services in order to resume operations. As reported in a previous article the company had anticipated taking up production again in early April but unfortunately this plan has not eventuated. Instead the company has kept quiet and several requests for information on the status from your humble scribe have gone unanswered.
On May 13 the company gave an update on proceedings at the Troy mine during the Q1 earnings call. In his opening statement John Shanahan, CEO of Revett Minerals, commented: "We do anticipate over the next couple of weeks getting a very good picture, and we will be looking to put an update out at the end of this month." According to previous releases and reiterated again in the earnings call "the main ground fall was along our main haulage group. And it really didn't cut off access to reserves. It certainly didn't cut off access to our resources and potential development of the I Beds, the JF Property, but it sure made logistics more difficult." With no new information forthcoming and no explanation given with regards to the delays in the previously communicated time line, these statements left investors scratching their heads.
So far no workers have been laid off which can be interpreted as a positive sign with regards to the Troy mine's prospects. The company is practically debt-free and has no obligations from forward sales. However, for the first quarter the company recorded a loss of $4.1M with $21M left on the balance sheet in cash and short-term investments and a similar amount in working capital.
Revett's largest share holder is Silver Wheaton (NYSE:SLW) who owns 16.6% of the outstanding shares. These shares were still listed in Silver Wheaton's Q1 2013 report indicating ongoing support for Revett. Revett Minerals' market capitalization has slumped to $47M from triple-digits less than half a year ago due to the difficulties at the Troy mine. The share price seems to have found a bottom at $1.30 which will likely hold until the end of the month on the expectation of further news.
Our original plan was to consider an investment during April pending news on progress with mine reopening. However, with too little information forthcoming we have decided to sit back and wait for a clearer picture to develop. Assuming the mine can be brought back into operation the present share price represents a considerable bargain. At this stage, interested investors would be well advised to wait for more detailed information and reliable time lines to production before committing funds.