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By Jared Cummans

In recent years, a number of commodity investors have turned to equities to gain indirect exposure to their favorite hard asset. In most cases, this means investing in a mining company that physically pulls the commodity from the earth and readies it for use. But when it comes to miners, most investors tend to focus on a select few rather than the entire space. While everything from gold and silver to rare earth metals and lithium have been attracting investors’ attention, there are a few companies that are often forgotten by investors for a variety of reasons but could still be attractive plays on the market [see also 12 High-Yielding Commodities For 2012].

These companies fall under the ‘nonmetallic mineral mining’ segment and can often operate more like real estate firms than commodity producers. This is because while these companies may produce commodities, they often own significant land or mine interests that they can rent out to other companies. This promotes stability and can help to cut down on earnings volatility in extreme circumstances. Furthermore, companies on this list are often engaged across multiple aspects of the supply chain, a factor that helps to reduce total costs and boost profit margins for all involved [see also The Ten Commandments of Commodity Investing].

Below, we highlight three companies that many investors may have overlooked, but could offer a new perspective on important markets for those seeking diversification beyond the usual suspects in the space.

Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. (NASDAQ:AHGP)

Alliance is a small cap miner based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The company produces and markets coal throughout the U.S. and operates nine mines in various states, the majority of which lie in the Midwest. The firm has roughly 700 million tons of proven reserves, giving it a nice base to work off of. The stock itself features a market cap of just under $3 billion with trading volumes averaging at about 66,000 shares per day. One of the biggest attractions to the stock is its dividend yield which sits just under 6%; a relatively strong payout for a small firm. With coal’s use dominating the energy sector it is safe to say that AHGP can be thought of as a long term play.

Harry Winston Diamond Corp (HWD)

Harry Winston is probably best known as a retailer of diamonds and luxury watches in major cities around the world. The firm has salons open across the U.S. to sell its jewelry and has several in Japan, developed and developing regions of Asia, and Europe as well, giving the relatively small firm a pretty wide footprint across the globe. Beyond this retail segment, the company has a 40% ownership in the Diavik Diamond mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories. The mine is the largest of its kind in Canada and is operated along with mining giant Rio Tinto. According to the company website, HWD pays 40% of the mine’s operating and capital costs and receives 40% of the mine’s diamond output as a result.

Rhino Resource Partners LP (NYSE:RNO)

RNO is a miner of coal across the country, focusing on properties that have vast deposits and can be developed with relative ease in order to reduce capital expenditures. The company currently mines in three segments; Central Appalachia (Kentucky and West Virginia), Northern Appalachia (Ohio), and Western Bituminous (Colorado), giving the firm wide diversification across geographies. In addition to this, Rhino also has a trucking division as well as a unit that helps with construction, maintenance and reclamation.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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Source: 3 Forgotten Ways To Play The Mining Industry