The hot base metals of today are copper, nickel and molybdenum. Those who entered positions months or years ago in producers of these metals have seen their holdings appreciate several fold. While miners who produce these metals should continue to enjoy strong earnings and cash flow, their equity’s most dynamic gains are largely behind them. One key to finding stocks with the highest appreciation potential is to identify a metal largely off investor’s radar screens on the verge of a major move up. The other key is to identify companies that are rapidly increasing production of that metal. We will first focus on the next base metal likely to move up and then review three miners that are significantly increasing production over the next 12 months.
The next base metal that is likely to move up strongly this year is Zinc. Fundamentals for zinc continue to be very strong. A major Zinc miner, Xstrata, has said they expect strong demand through 2013. The primary reason for strong demand is zinc’s use as a means to protect steel from corrosion. Galvanizing of steel (applying a zinc coating) is the largest use of zinc. Galvanized steel is critical for the development of infrastructure. India and China are rapidly growing, building infrastructure for their booming economies. With the combined GDP growth of both countries around 10% and with enormous populations, consumption of structural steel should go unabated for years to come. Insatiable demand for the metal has resulted in Zinc storage levels plummeting to historic lows. Consequently the price has responded dramatically.
The Dynamic Trio of Zinc Producers
Acadian Gold (OTC:ADGLF)
Acadian Gold has been primarily a gold exploration company. They purchased the Scotia Zinc mine in Nova Scotia last summer. The mine was originally built by a major oil company and operated briefly in the early 80’s until it closed due to poor economics. Acadian received the mine in excellent shape with minor amounts of investment required to bring the mine to production.
The mine is expected to produce 40 million pounds of Zinc and 16 million pounds of Lead on an annual basis and has an estimated life of nine years. A feasibility study using a Zinc price of $1.10 and Lead price of $0.40 concluded annual cash flow to be approximately $11 million. Extrapolating these figures using present day prices, places cash flow to over $30 Million. Roughly every 10 cent increase in Zinc can result in an additional $4 million cash flow. Considering Acadian is trading for $1 (US) makes it a compelling stock to consider. Value is further enhanced by Acadian’s strong portfolio of gold properties with resources approaching 1.5 million ounces.
Blue Note (OTC:BNMFF)
This Company has refurbished an old mine they bought from Breakwater Resources. They are anticipating production start up next month with a ramp up to a staggering 100 million pounds of Zinc and of 40 million pounds Lead per year. Earnings and cash flow should be huge relative to the capitalization of the company.
Breakwater Resources (OTC:BWLRF)
Breakwater operates several mines in North and South America. According to their most recent presentation they are the highest leveraged company to the price of Zinc. The majority of their revenue does come from Zinc but they also have an impressive repertoire of production from Copper, Gold, Lead and Silver. Breakwater produces several hundred million pounds of zinc and they are bringing two more zinc producing mines online in the next few months. As zinc rapidly depletes and its price rises, Breakwater should do quite well.
Zinc is likely to be one of the most talked about base metals later this year. Inventory is hovering slightly above historic lows and is threatening to move even lower. Prices are now beginning to reflect the tightness in the market and depletion of known storage. The three companies discussed Acadian, Blue Note and Breakwater are well positioned to take full advantage of a price explosion in Zinc with their rapidly increasing production profiles over the next year.
Disclosure: The author has not been paid to write this article, nor received any other incentive to do so. The author holds a position in the company and will benefit from any increase in the company's share price.