Miners Sector 2015 Forecast :Dumping Assets At Fire-sale Prices

Senior mining companies are still holding many unnecessary and troubled assets on their books. So it would not be a surprise to see a few more dirt-cheap deals in 2015.

Scott Douglas/Riversdale Mining Ltd.Senior mining companies are still holding many unnecessary and troubled assets .

The junior mining sector is in such brutal shape right now that most companies are unwilling to even pay for booths at conferences that are geared to them.

 

Mr. Dethlefsen’s firm, Corsa Coal Corp., was approached this year about buying coal assets in Pennsylvania from Russian steel giant OAO Severstal, which was bailing out of the United States.

Severstal had bought these operations for $900 million in 2008, when steelmaking coal prices were hitting all-time highs. Mr. Dethlefsen would not pay anything close to that in today’s awful coal market, but he didn’t have to. Corsa bought the operations for a grand total of US$60 million, or less than 8% of what Severstal paid.

“It’s a tough market. We have our work cut out for us with this business and it’s not going to be easy,” said Mr. Dethlefsen, Corsa’s chief executive.

“But we’d rather start by paying US$60 million than US$500 million.”

Indeed. It used to be that when mining companies put assets up for auction, they wouldn’t actually sell them unless they got a very full price. That could be because their commodity price assumptions were too optimistic, or they were just too attached to them and convinced they could extract more value. Dozens of interesting projects were put up for auction in recent years and never changed hands because sellers demanded too much money.

We have our work cut out for us with this business and it’s not going to be easy

That changed in 2014, especially at the low end. This will go down as the year when miners were happy to dump their troubled assets. They just wanted to get them off the books and make them someone else’s problem.

The Corsa-Severstal deal was one such example. Rio Tinto Ltd., another, sold coal assets in Mozambique for US$50 million, just three years after paying US$3.7 billion for them. Kinross Gold Corp. dumped Fruta del Norte, possibly the world’s richest undeveloped gold project, for US$240 million, or less than a quarter of what it paid six years ago.

A Billion Dollar Loss – and more of these stories to be written in 2015

And then there was the unfortunate tale of Alberta coal miner Grande Cache Coal Corp. A pair of Asian commodity traders (Marubeni Corp. and Winsway Enterprises Holdings) paid $1 billion for the company in 2011. But coal prices turned dramatically against them. So in October, they agreed to sell their Grand Cache stakes for a buck. Each.

These fire-sale prices generated some laughs across the industry. Yet the deals have an undeniable logic in the current volatile market conditions.

Handout/Grande Cache Coal

Handout/Grande Cache CoalA pair of Asian commodity traders (Marubeni Corp. and Winsway Enterprises Holdings) paid $1 billion for Grande Cache Coal in 2011. But coal prices turned dramatically against them. So in October, they agreed to sell their Grand Cache stakes for a buck. Each.

During the mining bull market (roughly 2002 to 2011), the industry was undergoing massive consolidation as miners rode the wave of rising metal prices. Senior mining companies like Rio Tinto and Vale SA snapped up almost everything in sight, piling up a lot of debt and unnecessary assets in the process. As long as commodity prices were high, who cared? They were just happy to get bigger.

It took a steep drop in prices — and an embarrassing wave of writedowns — to force them to reconsider their strategy. They realized too much management time was being wasted on non-core assets that deliver minimal or no return. They also recognized that low commodity prices may last for a while and that they needed to shed these assets to get as lean as possible.

It has helped that almost every major mining company replaced its CEO over the last couple of years. These guys have no emotional attachment to the assets their predecessors overpaid for, and are happy to do whatever it takes to get value out of them.

“Everyone is looking at rationalizing their portfolios to their best core assets,” said Melanie Shishler, a partner and mining specialist at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP. “In furtherance of that, I think people are being quite unrelenting in what they’re prepared to do to reach that goal.”

And there was nothing CEOs wanted to divest more than their problem assets. These assets were unloaded for bargain-basement prices after they backfired in spectacular ways.

For Severstal, it was a combination of a deteriorating coal market and Vladimir Putin. When Severstal bought the U.S. assets in 2008, coking coal prices were soaring above US$300 a tonne. Supply was so tight that steelmakers were terrified they would not be able to source product, so they started snapping up coal mining operations.

Today, that strategy seems absurd. Benchmark prices have plunged to US$117 a tonne, due to soaring supply and uncertain Chinese demand. Steelmakers no longer see any need to be vertically integrated.

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Kinross – Poster Child For Mining Sector Errors

For Toronto-based Kinross, the central issue was also politics. The problem with the Fruta del Norte (FDN) project is that it is in Ecuador, a country with no history of large-scale gold mining. Kinross paid $1.2 billion for FDN in 2008 even though Ecuador did not have a firm mining law at the time. It was a reckless gamble, and it backfired after the government demanded outrageous windfall profits taxes. (Kinross owns equity in FDN’s new owner, so it could still benefit if the mine is built.)

Rio Tinto fell victim to a lack of good due diligence. It paid billions for the Mozambique coal assets without having a firm transportation plan in place. The transportation constraints were far bigger than anticipated, making the coal assets almost worthless in Rio’s eyes.

Handout/Kinross

Handout/KinrossKinross paid $1.2 billion for the Fruta del Norte mine in 2008 even though Ecuador did not have a firm mining law at the time. It was a reckless gamble, and it backfired after the government demanded outrageous windfall profits taxes.

 

In the two-dollar Grande Cache deal, the Asian sellers decided the assets definitely worthless to them at these prices. Experts said the sellers were facing potential cash outflows in the short term, something they clearly wanted to avoid.

Senior mining companies are still holding many unnecessary and troubled assets on their books. So it would not be a surprise to see a few more dirt-cheap deals in 2015.

One notable thing about these transactions is they usually involved a large company selling to a very small one. Sometimes it takes a small company to give a problem asset the attention it needs to create value. If they can’t get the assets turned around, then these deals are not such a great bargain.

“I’ve always said one company’s non-core asset is the cornerstone asset of another one,” said Jack A. Bass, managing partner at Jack A. Bass and Associates.

That is certainly the case with Corsa, which transformed into a serious player overnight with the Severstal deal. But now that the excitement has worn off, the company has to prove it can generate actual value out of these operations in a miserable coal market. If Corsa pulls that off and prices rebound, it could turn out to be one of the best mining deals in decades.

“We took the opportunity to come in and buy at what we think is the trough,” Mr. Dethlefsen said.

“To do that, you’ve got to have a pretty strong stomach. Over the next 12 months, it’s going to be a knife fight.”

You Have Options:

What To Do ?

Here is our recent letter:

Managed Accounts Year End Review and Forecast

November 2014 – 40 % cash position
Gold and Precious MetalsThe largest gains for our clients came from the exit from the gold producers at $18oo an ounce and continuing until we hold no gold and no gold miners . This from the author of The Gold Investors Handbook.2015 – We continue to be on the sidelines for this sector – regardless of the gnomes of Switzerland . As a safe haven gold simply wasnot there for investors despite turmoil in the Middle East, Africa and Ukraine.How much more frightening can the prospect for peace be than to have wars in multiple locations? Secondly the spectre of inflation – on which I have given numerous talks – simply failed to materialize. In fact economists and portfolio managers such as myself are now more concerned about deflation – and the spectre is a Japanese style decades long slide in the world economy.
Shipping Sector / Bulk ShippersYou can review our stock market letter athttp://www.amp2012.com to follow our profits in the shipping sector before our retreat as overcapacity has yet to effect continued overbuiding. In 2008-9 rates-  illustrated by the Baltic Dry Index – were at their peak. The BDI hit over 10,000. Today it is roughly 10 % of that benchmark and the sector slide continues. We have an impressive watchlist of former ” darlings” – but we are content to watch and wait.
Oil/ Energy I am very happy for the call in natural gas prices – out at $12 and into oil. When oil was above $100 we lessened positions and that is our saving grace in the past two weeks. We are not bottom feeders and will wait for a turn in the market before reentering drillers or producers.On Friday November 27th, crude oil prices dropped to below $72 and the slide has continued into the weekend, with Brent crude oil at $70.15 as I write this post. Shares of major oil companies traded down on Friday. Our former energy sector holdings are down another between 4% and 11%, including SDRL, which dropped another 8% following Wednesday’s 23% plunge…

Have you avoided these sectors – you would have been better off to follow our advice in 2014 and now you have to decide for 2015.
No one – and I am not being humble here – can project the future with great accuracy but our clients continue to do very well and we offer that experience to you.

Fees : 1 % annual set up and a performance bonus of 20 % – only if we perform.

You can withdraw your funds monthly if you require an income stream.

Alternate Guaranteed Income Payments

Private client funds Minimum $10,000 Maximum Loan $500,000

Our client is seeking funds to expand their tanker fleet .

Interest 12 % compounded – paid 1% per month

Floating charge of the full $500,000 against the fleet – valued at  more than $ 1 M

 

Contact information:

To learn more about portfolio management ,asset protection, trusts ,offshore company formation and structure for your business interests (at no cost or obligation)

Email

jackabass@gmail.com OR

info@jackbassteam.com  OR

Call Jack direct at 604-858-3202

10:00 – 4:00 Monday to Friday Pacific Time ( same time zone as Los Angeles).

Similar to wise buying decisions, exiting certain underperformers at the right time helps maximize portfolio returns. Selling off losers can be difficult, but if both the share price and estimates are falling, it could be time to get rid of the security before more losses hit your portfolio.

Tax website  Http://www.youroffshoremoney.com

Gold-Mining Industry Mostly ‘Under Water,’ Gold Fields

Gold miners’ costs are mostly higher than current spot prices, increasing the likelihood of writedowns next year, according to Nick Holland, chief executive officer of Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI)

Across the industry, costs are about $1,300 an ounce including debt repayments, Holland said by phone from Johannesburg today, citing analysts’ research. Gold dropped 0.1 percent to $1,182 an ounce, bringing the decline since the beginning of 2013 to 29 percent.

“The industry by and large is under water,” Holland said. “I would expect further writedowns. Production I think will be curtailed but it will take some time to filter through the system.”

Gold producers are struggling to adapt to a lower bullion price after a decade of debt-fueled expansion, acquisitions and cost inflation during the boom years that saw bullion peak at $1,921.17 an ounce in September 2011. The spot price has tumbled in the past 18 months as investors speculate the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates due to an improving U.S. economy, lowering demand for the safe-haven metal.

Gold Fields is able to “ride this through” as it has a break-even price of about $1,050 an ounce, or $1,090 an ounce including debt repayments, Holland said. While the company calculates its reserves at $1,300 an ounce, that number includes a 15 percent profit margin, he said.

“Everything is fine for now, obviously the margin won’t be 15 percent at the current price, it will be less than that,” Holland said. “That said, the business continues to be run the same as before.”

Profit Drop

Gold Fields dropped 4.8 percent at 9:16 a.m. today in Johannesburg after the precious metal fell 1.2 percent yesterday, largely after South African trading hours. The FTSE/JSE Africa Gold Mining Index decreased 5.1 percent to 1,091.8.

Headline earnings for the South African producer with mines from Peru to Australia were $14 million in the three months to Sept. 30, compared with $18 million the previous quarter, it said in a statement today.

The Johannesburg-based company, which spun off three of its cash-generative but old South African mines to create Sibanye Gold Ltd. last year, is seeking to “aggressively” pay down debt over the next three years as it adjusts to the lower gold price, Holland said. The company is also on the lookout for cheap, in-production acquisitions that more troubled miners are offloading.

Gold Fields reduced net debt in the quarter by $137 million to $1.5 billion. All-in sustaining costs for the year are expected to be 3 percent lower than previous forecast at $1,090 an ounce, it said.

Gold production rose 2 percent to 559,000 ounces in the quarter compared with the previous three months, the company said.

HudBay Minerals

HBM : TSX : C$10.87

BUY 
Target: C$13.50
COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
HudBay Minerals is an integrated Canadian zinc and
copper producer with operating assets in Manitoba,
and development or exploration properties elsewhere
in Canada, in the U.S., and in Peru.

All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted.

Metals and Mining — Base Metals and Minerals
VALUATION REVIEW WITH ROSEMONT;
GROWTH TO 2019; 
Event
We have incorporated the Augusta Resources/Rosemont copper project
into our HBM full valuation model, and incorporated our new
commodity price forecasts throughout the model.
Action and valuation
We are maintaining our BUY recommendation and raising our 12-
month target price to C$13.50 (from C$11.00). Our C$13.50 target price
is based on the average of: i) 7x 2015E EV/EBITDA, which would imply
a share price of C$12.81, and ii) our NPV10 estimate of C$14.12.
We see the potential for upside to our target price as Constancia and
Rosemont progress. 6x 2016E EBITDA (with Constancia in production)
equates to a share price of C$14.89, and 5x 2019E EBITDA (with
Rosemont in production) equates to a share price of C$30.51.
Our NPV10 estimate of C$14.12 includes C$7.50 for Constancia and
C$4.89 for Rosemont (treating AZC acquisition costs as sunk costs).
We are forecasting low-point cash balances of C$213 million mid-2015
during Constancia start-up, and then C$166 million mid-2018 during
Rosemont start-up.
Next potential catalysts and investment risks
We believe Constancia commissioning and Rosemont permitting are key
catalysts and key valuation risks for HBM over the next 12 months

Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc. SELL

TCM : TSX : C$3.28

SELL 
Target: C$2.70

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Thompson Creek Metals is one of the largest
molybdenum producers in the world. The company owns
the Thompson Creek open-pit mine and mill in Idaho; a
75% share of the Endako open-pit mine, mill, and
roasting facility in northern BC; and a metallurgical
roasting facility in Langeloth, Pennsylvania. Thompson
Creek Metals is also developing the Mount Milligan Cu-Au
deposit near Prince George in B.C.

All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted

Metals and Mining — Base Metals and Minerals
VALUATION REVIEW POST Q1/14 FINANCIALS;
STILL A SELL, BUT HUGE LEVERAGE TO INPUT  ASSUMPTIONS
Event
With TCM having now established a reporting format for Mount
Milligan, we have rebuilt our valuation model, and with TCM confirming
that in light of current molybdenum price strength it is reviewing the
decision to close the TC Mine at end-2014, we have returned the TC
Mine to our valuation model, with Phase 8 production from Q1/16E.
Impact
Our new 2014-16E adjusted (for Royal Gold stream payments) EBITDA
forecasts are US$184 million, US$222 million and US$270 million, from
previous US$197 million, US$217 million and US$218 million.
Action and valuation
We are maintaining our SELL recommendation but increasing our 12-
month target price to C$2.70 (from C$2.20). Our C$2.70 target is based
on the average of: i) 6x our 2015E EV/EBITDA, which would imply a
share price of C$2.89, and ii) our NPV8 estimate of C$2.48. We are
forecasting an end-2014 cash balance of US$213 million, providing
leeway for investment in additional Mount Milligan crushing capacity if
required.
Next potential catalyst and investment risks
Given current net debt of US$799 million against a market cap of C$562
million, TCM’s equity valuation is extremely sensitive to assumed model
inputs. To demonstrate: i) were we to increase our molybdenum price
assumptions from US$11/lb to US$13/lb, our NPV8 would increase to
C$3.58, ii) however, were we to remove the TC mine re-start from our
model should moly prices fall again, our NPV8 would fall to C$1.19, and
iii) should we increase our steady state Mount Milligan cost forecast
from US$280Mpa (~US$10/t site costs) to US$300Mpa, our NPV8 would
fall to C$1.41

Barrick Gold SELL

ABX : TSX : C$19.82
ABX : NYSE
SELL 
Target: C$17.50

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Barrick is the largest gold producer in the world and has
a portfolio of operating mines and development projects
located in the United States, Canada, Australia, Peru,
Chile, Argentina, and Tanzania. In 2012, the company’s
operating mines produced 7.42 million ounces of gold, at
total cash costs of $584 per ounce.
All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted.

Metals and Mining — Precious Metals and Minerals
FORECAST 2014 PRODUCTION 11% DOWN,  RESERVE LOSSES AT 18%
Investment recommendation
Our target price has been revised from C$20.50 to C$17.50 to reflect the
recent shift lower in the gold forward curve and to reflect our estimate
of potential reserve and mine plan changes at YE13. This report
provides an analysis of potential YE13 reserve changes on an asset by
asset basis. Based on the implied negative return to target, we have
revised our rating on Barrick from Hold to SELL.
Investment highlights
 Barrick is developing new mine plans to reflect a lower gold price
environment and maximize cash flow. We estimate 2013 gold
production at 6.36mozs, 11% lower sequentially. Cash operating
costs are expected to be only modestly lower at ~$585/oz.
 We estimate that operating reserves (excluding development assets)
will have declined ~18% at year-end. While reserve grades could
potentially increase ~11%, we note that Barrick has been mining
~19% above reserve grade over the past four years.
 Our 2013 EPS and CFPS estimates have been revised to $2.30 (from
$2.32) and $3.23 (from $3.07), respectively.
Valuation
We have revised our target price from C$20.50 to C$17.50, which is
predicated on an above sector average 0.90x multiple to our forward
curve derived operating NAVPS estimate of C$22.34 (from C$25.65) plus
net debt and other assets. Our target multiple fully reflects Barrick’s
numerous positive attributes; we just do not see the value proposition
for Barrick at current metals prices. Barrick is currently trading at a
27% premium to its gold peers on NAV. Near term positive free cash
flow is expected to be largely utilized to finish constructing Pascua.

 

HudBay Minerals Update

HBM : TSX : C$8.81
BUY 
Target: C$12.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
HudBay Minerals is an integrated Canadian zinc and copper producer with operating assets in Manitoba, and development or exploration properties elsewhere in Canada, in the U.S., and in Peru.
All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted.

Metals and Mining — Base Metals and Minerals
2013 PRODUCTION A LITTLE WEAK, BUT 2014 GUIDANCE IN LINE AND CONSTANCIA ON TRACK
Event
HBM on January 8 released 2013 production and 2014 guidance. 2013 copper production’s miss against guidance is the aberration. 2014 production guidance is consistent with our forecasts. HBM confirmed Constancia’s budget and schedule, and provided surprisingly high 2014 production guidance (pre-commercial production) of 5,000-10,000 tonnes.
Impact
Our revised 2013-15E EBITDA forecasts are C$23 million, C$129 million, and C$485 million, which compare to our previous forecasts of C$32 million, C$129 million, and C$485 million. Our revised 2013-15E adj. dil. EPS forecasts are C$0.03, C$0.16, and C$1.08, from previous forecasts of C$0.07, C$0.15, and C$1.08.
Action and valuation
We are maintaining our BUY recommendation and our 12-month target of C$12.00, which is based on the average of: i) 5x our 2015E EV/EBITDA, which would imply a share price of C$11.97; and ii) our NPV10 estimate of C$11.62, (which includes C$7.79 for Constancia).
Next potential catalyst and investment risks
We are forecasting Q4/13 adjusted diluted EPS of negative (C$0.02) based on: i) payable zinc and copper sales of 24,400 tonnes and 7,800 tonnes, ii) realized zinc and copper prices of US$0.93/lb and US$3.31/lb (before treatment and refining charges, but after provisional pricing adjustments), and iii) after by-product credit costs of +US$1.41/lb of copper.

Silver Wheaton Corporation Update Target $30

SLW : TSX : C$21.59
SLW : NYSE
BUY 
Target: C$30.00

COMPANY DESCRIPTION:
Silver Wheaton is uniquely positioned as the purest silver
producer. The company’s asset base consists of silver
purchase agreements with the San Dimas and
Penasquito mines in Mexico, Pascua-Lama project in
Chile/Argentina, Zinkgruvan mine in Sweden, Yauliyacu
mine in Peru, Stratoni mine in Greece. Most recent
streaming deals with Hudbay minerals (silver and gold
streams at 777 and Constancia) and Vale (gold streams
at Salobo and Sudbury mines).
All amounts in C$ unless otherwise noted

Metals and Mining — Precious Metals and Minerals
MINERAL PARK FINDS A BUYER;
KENO HILL NOT EXPECTED UNTIL 2015; MAINTAIN BUY RATING AND C$30.00 TARGET


Investment recommendation


We maintain our BUY rating on Silver Wheaton. We believe the
perceived increased risk with respect to Pascua construction and
Rosemont permitting has been largely discounted in the company’s
shares. SLW boasts a robust growth profile and continues to generate
strong free cash flow at spot gold and silver prices.
Investment highlights
 We updated our model to reinstate the stream from Mercator’s
Mineral Park mine in Arizona following the proposed merger with
Intergeo MMC, which is expected to inject cash to sustain
operations. Based on Mercator’s previous mine plan, not assuming
any changes are made following the merger, we value the Mineral
Park stream at US$108 million or 1.4% of NAV.
 We also updated our model to incorporate the new PEA for Alexco’s
Keno Hill project in the Yukon. Production re-start is now expected
approximately one year later in Q1/15. Our valuation for Keno Hill
has declined from US$116 million to US$50 million. Given the
significant financing risk surrounding the re-start, we continue to
discount the stream by 50%. Alexco is in violation of the completion
agreement based on achieving throughput of 400tpd by YE14. We
assume SLW will extend the deadline given the option value.
 Overall, our 2014 production forecast of 39.4mozs remains largely
unchanged. Our 2013 EPS and CFPS estimates remain materially
unchanged at $1.06 and $1.50, respectively.
Valuation
We are maintaining our target price of C$30.00, which is predicated on
a 1.30x multiple to our forward curve derived operating NAV estimate of
C$25.29 (previously C$25.44) plus net debt and other assets.