Goldcorp Incorporated (NYSE:GG) - TSX:G, is one of the fastest growing and lowest cost producers of gold in the world. As of Q3 ’11, gold cash costs for the company, on a co-product basis were $551/oz and on a net of by-product basis were $258/oz. Goldcorp, headed by the venerable Ian Telfer has, through M&A and internal exploration and development, secured a premium gold portfolio positioned to profit from today’s gold prices.
Some of Goldcorp’s most lucrative mines are found in Archaean greenstone belts that can contain large, high grade gold deposits. Goldcorp currently controls 4 reserves that can be mined within the Canadian Archean greenstone belts of Abitibi, Red Lake and Flin Flon. In addition Goldcorp mines for copper and other minerals and exploits two other sources of gold, epithermal and porphyry deposits.
Goldcorp’s Archean Greenstone Reserves Chart
|Greenstone Belts||Tonnage||Grade||Contained OZ|
|Eleonore - Abitibi greenstone belt||12.48||7.56||3.03|
|Musselwhite – Flin Flon greenstone belt||10.54||6.24||2.12|
|Porcupine – Abitibi greenstone belt||76.59||1.33||3.29|
|Red Lake – Red Lake greenstone belt||9.93||12.89||4.12|
Well explored greenstone belts are found in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and South America. Sub-Saharan Africa contains two major developing greenstone belts. The Birimian belt runs through West Africa including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Although this region has a challenging history, great progress has been made in the last 20 years. By pioneering these regions, Randgold Resources Ltd. (Nasdaq:GOLD) and Golden Star Resources Inc. (AMEX:GSS) have become sizable growth companies in the region. More recently in Tanzania, the Lake Victoria greenstone belt has also experienced successful development. Tanzania is actively explored by majors such as Randgold and African Barrick - LON: ABG.
Other less explored belts exist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as in the Zimbabwe Craton. These belts have been less explored due to the political climate, which looks to be in a cycle of improvement. The geologic potential of these Archaean greenstone belts could rival some of their better known counterparts. The extreme age of these formationss, as well as the chemical and structural controls within the rock, indicate prime conditions for gold deposits.
In addition to the majors, two relatively unknown stocks that investors should be following within the unexplored greenstone belts of Sub-Saharan Africa are Loncor Resources (AMEX:LON) - TSX-V:LN and Whetstone Minerals (GM:WMITF) - TSX-V:WMI.
Loncor is currently developing the Ngayu greenstone belt in the Orientale Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Loncor controls 4,550 sq km of the belt, which appears to be an extension of the Lake Victoria greenstone belt. Over 57 million oz of gold have been discovered to date in the Lake Victoria belt and exploration continues. It is important to note that the 20 million oz Geita deposit was discovered by Peter Cowley when he was heading up Ashanti Exploration in the Lake Victoria belt. Mr. Cowley now heads Loncor Resources. Newmont is a 17.8% shareholder and technical partner, and together have mapped out a development plan to identify and delineate increasing gold resources. To date, Loncor has drilled less than 40 drill holes with encouraging intercepts.
Whetstone is a microcap gold exploration company with advanced stage projects, including several past producers, which are located in the central west region of one of Zimbabwe’s largest greenstone belts. The country’s well developed infrastructure, dearth of modern exploration for the past 30 years, and large number of historic producing mines make it both highly prospective and a rich hunting ground for consolidation.
Whetstone was launched in the second quarter of 2011 by Allan Dolan, founder and significant shareholder of African Minerals Ltd. (GM:AMLZF), the US $2.0+ billion iron ore producer operating in Sierra Leone. With a market cap of only $15 million, Whetstone presents the opportunity of joining Mr. Dolan's list of successful ventures as he hopes to replicate his successes at Whetstone. The plan is to develop Whetstone’s prime gold projects and consolidate additional major properties, all located in a single emerging gold camp, into a rapidly growing mid-size gold producer.
Whetstone is actively dealing with the Zimbabwean indigenisation issue that requires companies to produce a plan to sell up to a 51% interest in their companies at fair market value over a 5-year period (in the form of shares, an income stream, socially responsible community investment and/or joint participation in mineral rights) to Zimbabwe citizens. As consolidation represents a key strategy for Whetstone, there is ample opportunity for the company to consolidate locally owned companies, thereby achieving the desired shareholding structure and acquiring additional premium assets for development at attractive discounts. With Whetstone’s access to capital through Clarity Enterprises, Mr. Dolan’s family office, and board members such as Julian Treger, (principal at Audley Capital, which manages over $1 billion and specializes in mining stocks), strong technical team, and history of success, Whetstone is well positioned to create value for its shareholders.