Post summer doldrums, we're beginning to see a nice fall run up in the gold price according to seasoned bullion dealer, investor and newsletter writer Greg McCoach. He sees a number of factors culminating in ever-increasing prices going forward. Interview with The Gold Report.
VANCOUVER, BC -
The Gold Report: Greg, gold has really started to take off. You've talked about a parabolic move for gold. Are we in the beginning of that?
Greg McCoach: Yes, I would say so. I've been anticipating a nice fall run up. We knew we'd experience the typical summer doldrums, but a couple of things are happening right now.
First, you've got the major gold traders coming back from vacation and starting to make some trades. But more importantly, there were two major announcements in the first week of September that could really launch gold. We could see $1,500 gold this fall. No doubt about it.
TGR: What two announcements are those?
GM: First, the Chinese, in layman's terms, put a stop loss on their derivatives, which they're taking a bath on. These were sold to them from the likes of Goldman Sachs. This is a huge development. In other words, the Chinese are basically saying it's a fraudulent transaction. Goldman Sachs sold these same instruments to Iceland and what took the country down were the derivatives, right? So, knowing that, now the Chinese government says we are putting a stop loss on our losses on these instruments and we're simply not going to pay anymore.
That was a big development and, if you notice, there's been a lot of discussion. Independent-thinking kinds of newsletters have been talking about this and, so, we've seen gold start to rise up.
The second big announcement is that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has built its own high-tech vault to store its own gold, and they just requested delivery. Up to this point, the Chinese gold had been stored and vaulted in London, England. So now the Chinese are requesting their gold be shipped from London to their new vault in Hong Kong. This has major implications because this is a large amount of physical gold, and I think what it's going to do is begin to expose the naked shorts who have been playing this game with the gold and silver markets, trying to keep a cap on the prices. So this is a major, major development.
TGR: Why would moving gold from one vault to another vault expose the naked shorts?
GM: Because they won't have access to that gold. In other words, the shorts, in order to keep a lid on the gold prices, can't control the gold price. This goes into the manipulation. I don't talk about this too much just because, to me, it really doesn't matter. In the end, manipulation never works and free markets eventually overcome any manipulative activity, and gold and silver will go to where they're going to go. But in this case, the way they've been able to play this game over the years-and it's been going on for a long time-the manipulation crowd could short paper contracts of gold and silver with huge amount of paper contracts. They didn't have the physical metal to deliver in case the longs decided they wanted delivery. They would get caught if they didn't have enough physical metal to meet those demands.
So I think it really means that the whole situation of manipulating and playing games with the gold and silver markets just puts even more pressure on it when people start taking delivery of their gold. We all know that the manipulation game will be over at some point when there's no gold left to play the game. Then the manipulation crowd has no ammunition to play and that'll all go away.
TGR: Is this what's really causing the parabolic move for gold or are there other factors?
GM: No, there are other factors. This is just the starting point. What I'm saying is we're starting to see gold ramp up. The bigger factors are the derivatives associated with the commercial real estate market. I think that's going to start to blow up this fall and into early next year. And that's because the commercial real estate market and its associated derivative sewage is much larger than the derivative sewage associated with the residential real estate mortgages that went bad.
We're going to go through another round of this. This round looks like it's going to be worse than the last round. And any hogwash about people thinking the economy is back on track and all this stuff from Joe Biden that a million new jobs were created, that's just nonsense.
TGR: Would you anticipate the market to crash like it did last year as the residential real estate bubble burst?
GM: Here's the different scenario that I see. Yes, it's going to affect markets-stock markets will plummet worldwide; but I think it will be different for the precious metal stocks. The mining stocks and precious metals got sucked right down the toilet in the last meltdown. That was unexpected. The reason for that was that all the big hedge and index funds had to liquidate, and they were heavily invested in precious metals and junior mining stocks. So, as that crowd had to sell to raise cash for their clients who were sending in their redemption notices, that's what hurt us.
This time I think we will get the disconnect. I think precious metal prices will soar to new highs and people with money will flock into the precious metals and the mining stocks as a refuge, as a safe haven. Yes, it'll affect world markets again, but I think the precious metals will have an insulating protection because people will finally start to realize that precious metals are where you need to be. There will be a new interest and a beginning of a big flow of money into the precious metal sector.
TGR: So if that's true, won't all boats float up if precious metals start to take off? Won't all juniors see appreciation in the stock price?
GM: When the market kicks into gear, the money goes first into the majors, then the quality juniors, and then eventually-you know, even turkeys can fly, right? The more quality-oriented companies will definitely be the bigger recipients of the best funds because people are more selective now than they were before.
Since the last meltdown people have definitely gotten more educated in certain areas where you have to be. You can't just put your money in a mining stock anywhere in the world. It has to have infrastructure. If it's in an existing mining camp, that's better than in an area that has no infrastructure and no mining camp. Why? Because the developmental costs to put something into production are so much higher in those kinds of areas.
So smart money people are looking for new discoveries in existing mining camps, where all the infrastructure exists. So those will be the companies that make the big runs, and that's what I'm focused on right now. That's what I've been focused on in the newsletter-looking for these opportunities.
TGR: What's your recommendation about owning physical metal vs. equities? And should the mining stocks be in the majors, juniors?
GM: I always recommend owning the physical metals, gold and silver, the bullion bars and coins and the mining stocks. Now for some people, the majors work better for them and their portfolios than the juniors. I personally like the juniors because of the leverage. When someone makes a discovery, as a junior you can make up for a lot of losses very quickly with just one discovery, if you own the right junior mining stock.
So we play the odds; we know we're not going to win on all of these stocks. But in a good market, where we see a parabolic move, hell, everything's going to move. We're hoping to have some of those that do those big moves and everybody's happy and we'll take our profits and buy other real assets. At that point it could be undervalued real estate, it could be undervalued ranch land. I'm only willing to give up my precious metals and my precious metal mining stocks for other real assets because I don't want to hold dollars at this point. I'm not interesting in holding U.S. dollars in quantity.
TGR: Especially if they're going to be losing value.
GM: Right. A U.S. dollar devaluation at this point is as certain as death and taxes in life. We just don't know the exact timing; that's all.
TGR: What are some of your favorite juniors?
GM: Let's talk about Pediment Gold Corp. (TSX:PEZ; OTCBB:PEZGF; FSE:P5E) because I still list them as number one. Their stock has been a little quiet this year because the company really hasn't made much in the way of news and it looks like that's finally going to change.
They got out their new 43-101. It wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't bad news. It was a drastic increase in the quality of ounces, from 1.45 million to basically 1.65 million in total ounces, but the quality of ounces went from the inferred category to what we call the measured and indicated. That's a quality differential and that was a good announcement from that standpoint.
So I think what's going to happen now-and the company hasn't made any news yet-but their share price, when it ran up to $3.50, $3.60 a share, was based on the discovery news on their southern Baja property in Mexico, in what we call the San Antonio District. I would guess the company now is going to get back into a major drill program at some point this fall and I'm waiting for that news.
I've always said this is going to be a 2 to 3 million-ounce deposit, a sizeable gold deposit. It's in a good jurisdiction, and we can look forward to a lot of appreciation on our share price. What's great about it and why I still have it as a strong buy, number one, is you can still buy it so cheap; it's 80 cents, under a buck. It's dipped down as low as 70-75 cents. It's been as high as about $1.20 in the last six months. So it's at a good range to buy it right now before we make the move.
They also have a production scenario at another project, La Colorado, that's moving forward very nicely. They're drilling on this and they're finding even more ounces that El Dorado Gold left over. El Dorado Gold was the one that started that mine. It's now been opted to Pediment, who now controls it and is moving it back into production again.
Now as gold prices go up and they keep the drills going and they make further discoveries, which I think is sure to happen down there, that will take that stock right back up again. So there are some good profit opportunities. Again, in the top ten I list the companies with the least amount of risk that have the biggest opportunity for profit.
So if somebody says, Greg, at this point all I have is enough money to buy one stock, you should buy Pediment Exploration because it has the least amount of risk and the biggest upside for a junior mining stock at this point. There's a nice cash flow for the company that could be in production next year sometime and that stops shareholder dilution and that's as good as it gets in the junior mining business. A nice big discovery that's increasing in size and a good jurisdiction with another project also in Mexico that was an existing mine that is now being put back into production for cash flow, so the company doesn't have to keep raising funds in the private markets that dilute current shareholders. That's a good story. It doesn't get much better than that. And don't be discouraged by the price. That's just because there's been little in the way of news and the company's been protecting their savings. They've got about $14 million in the treasury and they've got plenty of room to do some things.
TGR: Another company that's on your strong buy list is Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. (TSX.V:FVI, Lima Exchange:FVI), which happens to be a silver play.
GM: I love silver. I'm not one of these guys who only likes gold. I love Mexico and a company like Fortuna, who's got not one, but two assets. One is already in production; one will soon be in production. Peru and Mexico are the two countries those assets are located in. They have a very low cost of production. The material is good grade and it's high profit with higher silver prices. This company will do very, very well. You'll see a multiple gain in this stock price.
Again, it's starting to bump up a little bit, but it's still reasonably priced. I think you can still buy this one and do quite well with it. If you believe silver prices are going higher, Fortuna Silver is a no-brainer.
TGR: Excellon Resources Inc. (TSX:EXN) is also on your list as a strong buy.
GM: Excellon is a very, very fascinating situation. It's been a long-term recommendation in my newsletter. We originally bought it years and years ago at 15 cents. It ran all the way up to two bucks. We made lots of money on that one. It went right back down again with the meltdown. The company is starting to creep up again.
They recently did a deal and acquired a mine, which they needed to help them on the production side, which was a good move for the company. Unfortunately, they had to give away a lot of shares, so the company has a dilution problem right now and I'm not quite sure how they're going to handle that. At Platosa, their main project, they keep discovering more ore and the type of geology that this deposit represents is called a carbonate replacement system. These are the biggest silver deposits in Mexico in the most prolific silver mining belt of the world. It's right smack dab in the middle of this.
You get into the carbonate replacement system and it's like elephant hunting. Excellon has hit the trunk of the elephant and they're working their way up the trunk and I believe what is going to happen is they're going to hit the body of the elephant. When they hit the body of the elephant, all hell is going to break loose because that stock will just go through the roof.
They acquired Silver Eagle Mines, which I thought was a good deal and it gives Excellon a lot of other good exploration properties; but, more importantly, it gave them a production facility where they could process their ore. They're trying to get their own mill up and running at Platosa and that should be done, hopefully, end of '09, early '10.They will have the shares outstanding, but once they get the cash flow going, if the share price doesn't go higher, the company could just start buying back their own shares cheap with the profits they have, reduce the number of shares outstanding. They could do a rollback, which I wouldn't be in favor of as an existing shareholder. One way or the other, Excellon will continue to move higher as they make further discoveries at Platosa, so it's still a buy.
TGR: SilverCrest Mines Inc. (TSX.V:SVL) has been on your top ten for quite a while. Can you give us an update?
GM: I like SilverCrest's story; I like the people running the company. I visited the site in Mexico, a good jurisdiction, and they continue to find more ore down there. It looks like, based on the timeframe, sometime in the first or second quarter of '10 their Santa Elena mine will be in production. That's a sizeable resource and one that's going to get the attention of the majors, especially when it would be such a low-cost producer.
I think once they put this into production, because of the size of it, this to me looks like at least 100 million ounces of silver equivalent in a good jurisdiction with infrastructure. I think someone will come in and take that company out. That will get a nice price for that.
Even though the stock is below where I recommended, it wouldn't take much buying to get it right back up to that level. In other words, it's pretty tightly held; there's not a lot of buying volume. If some big buyers came into the stock, it would take the stock up rather quickly. I think a buyout would be in the neighborhood of a $3 to $5 a share. If silver prices go much higher, obviously that asset's going to be worth even more and somebody might be willing to pay even more for it. So that's what I'm hoping for and that's why I continue to play it and recommend it as a buy.
TGR: Jinshan Gold Mines (TSX:JIN) has also been on your top ten. Can you give us an update on them?
GM: I like China. There are plenty of great opportunities in China, but you have to be very careful. I've been over to China many times looking at a lot of different projects, and the company I like the most is Jinshan. It's a gold project; it's in production. They've had some bugaboos to work through on the production side. As they were ramping this up, they had some problems with the crushers and they had to get some crushers that could grind the material up a little finer so they'd get better metallurgical recovery on their gold. So they've gotten that squared away now, so I anticipate that for 2010 this is a company that's going to be producing a lot of ounces, upwards to 70, 80, 90, 100,000 ounces next year. So I'm very encouraged by that. It's at a good price.
This is another stock that I've done well on in the past. It's back at a low price. I like recommending it here again. The Chinese now control Jinshan and it's in the right jurisdiction in China. When you're investing in China mining stocks, it's all about the Chinese partner and province you're doing business in. Some provinces will work with Western mining companies. In this case, it used to be that a Canadian company controlled Jinshan. Now the Chinese control Jinshan, so there are no problems with that at all. They've got some great exploration targets that, once we get the profits going, they can put that money in the ground and make a further discovery. So I really like Jinshan for the longer term, especially if you believe in higher gold prices, which I do. It's one of the few China plays that I like.
TGR: Moving back over to North America, can you give us an update on Vista Gold Corp. (TSX:VGZ, NYSE.A:VGZ)?
GM: Vista Gold has been a big performer, another long-term recommendation of my newsletter. Vista Gold vended out all their Nevada properties to Allied Nevada Gold Corp. (ANV; TSX:ANV), which has performed wonderfully. Allied Nevada's share price is up around $10. Early shareholders in Vista Gold who got shares in Allied Nevada because of the breakup of those companies have done just fine. Vista Gold, once the Nevada properties were taken out, has the Mt. Todd project in Australia and a good project down in Paredones Amarillos, Mexico, which is right next to Pediment's project on the Baja, and they've got another big project over in Indonesia.
Their projects are coming around and the big upside for Vista Gold still is once they get the permit situation at Paredones Amarillos rectified, which looks like it's happened now or soon will happen, it could move forward into production and be a takeover target. What's good about Vista Gold is they have very few shares outstanding; they have a tight share structure with some great assets. A major player could easily pick up Mt. Todd in Australia from Vista Gold.
Overall I like their stability. It's got good management, people who are very smart and know the business and have done very well in the past.
TGR: Since you brought up Allied Nevada, how are they doing?
GM: They're doing great. They continue to move the Hycroft mine forward and everything's just looking great. They've got some other great exploration targets that are getting very exciting; they have money. Now that it's back into production, they've got a lot of cash flow. Here the stock was just a couple of bucks a share not too long ago, it's almost $10 now. That's a great success story for us. That's been a big money maker for our subscribers.
TGR: I just want to mention one more company and that is Argentex Mining Corporation (TSX.V:ATX; OTCBB:AGXM), which you currently have as a buy.
GM: Yes, Argentex is a great mineralized system. This is a company that doesn't have a lot of money, is trading at a lot lower price than where I bought it and recommended it, but I continue to hold it as a buy because the stock is recovering.
This is a gigantic mineralized system that the company controls. For a junior to try to drill a project of this size, it's taken some time, but as they get more drill holes in there, the public and the investing market's going to wake up to the fact that this is a very, very good story and one that could become a mine. These are the kind of stories you want to get in on as an investor because there are other big mines in the area. Big majors own mines near there and, again, this could have a takeout. Once a junior proves up they've made a big enough discovery, it's very likely that a major could swoop this one up as well. So I like that kind of story.
I had another success story down there called Viceroy. We bought the stock at less than a dollar; I think it was 75 cents we recommended it. We sold it a few years later on a buyout for $11. So that's what you hope for in this business and Argentex reminds me of a Viceroy.
TGR: Can you comment on buying physical gold and the premiums that are being charged? If people have not bought physical gold yet, is it time to get in or have they missed the big run up?
GM: Oh, no. People need to own physical gold for a different reason. Owning the physical metal is your ultimate savings account. I only keep in U.S. dollars what I need to spend on a month-to-month basis. None of my other savings are in U.S. dollars whatsoever. All my other money is either in Canadian dollars, physical gold and silver, or the mining stocks. I also own some Canadian oil and gas stocks. That's how I diversify my portfolio.
At this point, if you don't have physical metals, you should consider it very quickly because I think we're coming up to a very big run and this could be the last time that we ever see gold in our lifetimes below $1,000 an ounce. Silver is ridiculously low. So you still have opportunity, but the longer you wait, the higher this is going to go.
Right now the premiums are not that high. And a typical premium is 5% over spot price. But last fall when things got tight again, hell, we saw things run up 5% to 10%. The premiums can go that high. So right now you still have reasonable premiums even though the spot prices are starting to creep up.
Here's the other problem. Just like last year, as things got really, really tight, mints stopped making certain bullion coins and bars. We saw the Silver Eagle program stop producing for 10 or 12 weeks. We saw the U.S. Treasury stop minting the gold buffalo coins, which still are not being minted. And fractional eagles are not being minted anymore. All they're minting is one ounce gold eagles. These scenarios tell me that things are going to get tighter, so why not buy when you can still get the stuff reasonably cheap and it's got decent premiums?
TGR: Well said. Greg, I appreciate your time and your insights once again.
Persons interviewed for articles on the site may have a long or short position in securities mentioned and may make purchases and/or sales of those securities in the open market or otherwise. Streetwise Inc. does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported.
Greg McCoach is an entrepreneur who has successfully started and run several businesses the past 22 years. For the last eight of these years he has been involved with the precious metals industry as a bullion dealer, investor, and newsletter writer (Mining Speculator). Greg is also the President of AmeriGold, a gold bullion dealer.
Greg's years of business experience and extensive personal contacts in the mining industry provide unique insights that have generated an impressive track record for The Mining Speculator since its inception in 2001. He also writes a weekly column for Gold World.