Surging commodity prices and fears of inflation: What does it mean for small caps?
“…Demand for a wide basket of commodities is surging as economies reopen. Investors are turning to commodities in preference to tech stocks, and as another hedge against inflation…”
As the global economy gradually reopens the markets continue to puzzle whether the surge in the price of raw materials that has accompanied the recovery heralds a new commodities supercycle, and whether it is contributing to a significant and sustained increase in inflation.
Companies covered include: #CGH #CHF #CEY #CGNR #EEE #GUN #LEX #LND #MNRG #PALM #POW #SHG #SRES
It’s a complex debate somewhat obscured by a deluge of conflicting facts and figures, and the competing perspectives of rival economic theories. But it matters to small cap natural resources investors trying to work out which trends to back, and how much to risk.
“…Gold, meanwhile, has performed much more like the store of value investors have always taken it to be. The yellow metal’s price has risen some 10pc since inflationary fears started to kick in this spring…”
Concern about budding inflation has pushed up the price of gold as high as $1,900 in recent weeks, not too far off the heights reached last summer when investors turned to the metal as a hedge against pandemic induced market volatility. And a commodities boom driven by the reopening of economies and supply bottlenecks has pushed the price of industrial metals to levels not seen for a decade.
This article seeks to disentangle what the swirl of statistics and frequently perplexing commentary about inflation and commodities might mean for the gold, copper and nickel small caps covered by TMS over the past year, and a few that we haven’t yet looked at.
Fears of inflation pushing up the price of gold
The possibility of a new era of sustained and significant inflation has been driven by the recovery in global demand, higher commodity prices, and big stimulus programmes and liberal monetary policy pursued by governments and central banks determined not to repeat the premature fiscal belt tightening that followed the financial crash.
Although opinion is sharply divided as to how long higher prices will persist, a short-term increase is already priced into the market, bond investors expecting inflation of 2.4pc a year over the next 10 years, well above the average rate of 1.75pc anticipated since 2015.
As ever, gold is the go-to hedge for those investors concerned that inflation is coming back. But the stop-start surge in the value of cryptocurrencies this year has encouraged others to wonder whether bitcoin might also offer a credible haven. Crypto bulls argue the digital coin’s decentralised immutable monetary supply makes it an ideal store of value. Unlike fiat currencies central banks cannot manipulate the value of bitcoin by increasing or decreasing its supply. And its founding protocol specifies that only 21 million coins will ever be issued.
It’s an interesting theory, but the plain evidence of the past year indicates that the value of the coin has, far from standing steadfast against it, actually ebbed and flowed with the market. Bitcoin’s price fell by a third at the outset of the pandemic, and plunged last month when the markets wobbled in response to US figures showing higher-than-expected inflation.
Gold, meanwhile, has performed much more like the store of value investors have always taken it to be. The yellow metal’s price has risen some 10pc since inflationary fears started to kick in this spring. Gold miner ETFs, perhaps the easiest way for retail investors to get exposure, have risen sharply, the Lyxor NYSE Arca Gold BUGS UCITS ETF, for example, returning 26.5pc over the past few months. And gold miners have signalled their expectation that higher gold prices will be here for some time through a series of significant IPOs, Nordgold and Endeavour Mining announcing plans to list in London, joining Yamana Gold, which went public on the LSE last year.
The question of just how long inflation might stick around is fiercely contested. The US Federal Reserve and Europe’s central banks have been clear that they think the current uptick in prices will prove transitory. And it seems the markets by and large accept their argument that inflationary pressures will subside as commodity and labour shortages ease. Although sentiment could of course change again, global stocks have resumed their strong performance this month, the FTSE All-World index touching new records. Gold however has shown little sign of weakening, and seems on standby to resume its climb should inflationary fears worsen: as ever perceptions rather than cold fundamentals count.
Commodity boom or supercycle?
Debate also continues to rage as whether the global economy is entering a multi-decade commodity supercycle, a discussion TMS first covered back in February, and to which we have referred in numerous articles since. Copper, iron ore, palladium and timber all hit record highs in May, and the price of agricultural commodities including grains, oilseeds, sugar and dairy has also jumped. The Bloomberg Commodity index has gained 15pc this year, recording its highest levels since 2015.
The rally has been charged by a perfect storm of reinforcing factors. Demand for a wide basket of commodities is surging as economies reopen. Investors are turning to commodities in preference to tech stocks, and as another hedge against inflation: commodities are perceived as ‘real’ assets likely to appreciate when inflation becomes a bigger risk. And industrial metals are in demand for the building of the emerging green economy.
As always with today’s global economy China is at the centre of the picture. The Asian giant needs to invest heavily in green metals to meet its ambitious aim of going carbon neutral by 2060, with some forecasts suggesting China needs to invest $2tn a year in green capex for 40 years to get to net zero. If it is serious about meeting that goal the country must also reduce its own production of carbon-heavy commodities such as steel and aluminium, which rely on coal-fired power. The imperative to cut its production is another significant pressure point on commodity prices.
Though it’s clear that commodity prices are on a strong upwards curve, the jury is still out on whether it qualifies as a new supercycle. The term is generally used to describe a period where commodity prices rise above their long-term trend for between 10 and 35 years. And those periods are rare: there have been just four sustained spells of above-trend commodity prices over the past 120 years, the last driven by China’s rapid industrialisation in the early 2000s. Many economists believe the current boom will gradually fade as the global economy gets back onto an even keel, and China cuts credit to producers.
Surging copper prices
But regardless of whether the wider commodities market settles down, it does seem that industrial metals, especially copper and nickel, are set for a sustained rally. The price of copper, an absolutely fundamental metal for green transition technologies – an electric vehicle for example contains five times more copper than a car fitted with an internal combustion engine – has almost doubled in the past year, hitting a record high of $10,460 a tonne last month. The United States Copper index fund and the WisdomTree Copper ETC have recorded 80pc gains in recent months, and China, which consumes half of the world’s copper, has imported nearly 10pc more of the metal than the previous year. The International Energy Agency reports that copper’s market share will have to grow almost sevenfold between 2020 and 2030 if net zero emissions are going to be achieved by 2050.
Prices are being forced up further by supply pressures. Just as demand is surging the copper market is close to peak supply, with big miners curtailing investment in new projects. The industry has dramatically scaled back spending since the last commodity boom, when too many indulged in overpriced deals and over ambitious projects that brought them close to financial ruin. The mining industry has since focused on returning to cash to shareholders through dividends rather than signing off on new projects.
Global mining and smelting capital expenditure, which peaked at $220bn in 2012, only reached half that level last year, and exploration spending has also dropped sharply from $35.7bn in 2012 to just over $10bn last year. And Glencore director Ivan Glasenberg told the Financial Times recently that the copper price would need to rise 50pc to spur sufficient investment to ensure sufficient supply for the green revolution. Other pressures on price include the increasing difficulty of find high grade copper projects in safe mining jurisdictions, and the rundown of ageing mines with declining ore grades: it can take up to 10 years to develop a new copper project, even once all the regulatory approvals have been secured.
Nickel and other metals
Copper of course is not the only industrial metal in high demand. Palladium and platinum are used in catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions, wind turbines require steel which is produced from iron ore, and silver is needed for solar panels. And nickel graphite, manganese and cobalt, are key ingredients for lithium-ion batteries.
The price of nickel in particular is surging, rising by about 70pc since last March to around $18,300 a tonne. Demand for nickel is expected to increase six-fold by 2030. As with the increase in the price of gold, investor interest in nickel is somewhat inspired by excitable narratives: supply of the metal is currently in surplus, and just 8pc of nickel demand is driven by the batteries market – more than two-thirds of it comes from the stainless steel industry.
But batteries’ share could reach 32pc by 2040 as electric vehicle maker increasingly movie to nickel-rich technologies. Elon Musk has described nickel as Tesla’s ‘biggest concern for scaling lithium-ion cell production’. And scope for new market entrants has been highlighted by concerns about the environmental credentials of many existing producers. Analysts predict that Indonesia will account for almost all of the growth in nickel supplies over the next decade, overwhelming output from new mines in Canada and Australia. But the future of those projects has been questioned by fears that mine waste will be dumped into the surrounding seas, renowned for their unique coral reefs and turtles.
Gold, copper and industrial metals small caps to look out for
In light of the prospect for a prolonged upturn in the prices of gold, copper and nickel, here – in alphabetical order! – are a few small cap miners worth considering, most of which have been covered by TMS at least once over the past few months.
Chaarat Gold Holdings
Chaarat Gold Holdings (AIM:CGH), focused on building emerging markets gold company in the Former Soviet Union region, has two development assets in the Kyrgyz Republic.
The Tulkubash oxide deposit has declared Resources of 42 million tonnes and a completed Bankable Feasibility Study. First gold is anticipated this year, with a long-run production target of 95k oz per year. A technical review of the Kyzyltash sulphide deposit has confirmed the low-cost large resource potential of the project.
Chaarat also owns the Kapan Mine and Processing Company in southern Armenia, which has been producing copper and zinc since 2003, and is expected to produce more than 50,000 ounces of gold annually over the next decade.
Chesterfield Resources (AIM:CHF) is bringing modern mining technology to some of the most ancient mines in Cyprus, where little exploration has been carried out since the 1970s.
With a portfolio of 100pc-owned licences covering 94 sq km Chesterfield is the island’s largest minerals rights holder. The company’s licences cover part of the Troodos Mountain range that runs across the island’s southern spine: 51.1 sq km at Troodos West, with a further 6.5 km2 under application; 12.5 sq km at Troodos North; and 30.6 sq km at Discovery South. A drilling programme is underway this year.
Chesterfield is looking for gold as well as copper. Last year preliminary results from surveys confirmed the presence of sulphide mineralisation that earlier exploration had located, and identified several new areas. And earlier this year the company extended its interests to Canada, acquiring a belt scale copper exploration project in the highly-rated Labrador region covering a geological basin nearly 40km long hosting more than 200 known copper occurrences.
Centamin’s (LON:CEY) Sukari Gold Mine, located in the Nubian Desert in southern Egypt, continues to produce nearly 500,000 oz a year, as it has for the past decade, generating record revenues last year for the cash-rich, debt-free company.
Sukari, the first large scale modern gold mine in Egypt, and now established as one of the top ten in the world, began production in 2009. The open pit and underground operation has produced over 4 Moz (million ounces) of gold, and generated more than $1bn revenues. With a 5 Moz reserve at 1.1 g/t grade the mine is expected to have at least 12 years of remaining life.
Centamin is currently recovering from an operational setback last year when an unstable pit wall at Sukari forced work on a section of the mine to be suspended. The company is undertaking a comprehensive technical review with a view to achieving a stable yearly production rate for the remainder of the mine’s life of 450-500,000 oz. Centamin is also diversifying, exploring the potential of a cluster of assets around the Côte d’Ivoire. They include the Doropo Project, whose nine permits cover 1930 km2 and contain a 2.4 Moz Indicated and 1.0 Moz Inferred resource, drilled to 250 metres from surface depth.
Conroy Gold and Natural Resources
Founded some 25 years ago Conroy Gold and Natural Resources (AIM:CGNR) has waited a long time for an opportunity to prove the possible presence of a significant gold deposit across a broad swathe of north eastern Ireland. Now, after the announcement of a joint venture partnership earlier this year, and the commencement of drilling, momentum seems to be gathering.
The company’s primary interest is a gold trend stretching for some 40 miles along the Orlock Bridge Fault Zone, situated on the island’s Longford–Down Massif. Conroy’s licences encompass four major gold targets, Clontibret, Clay Lake, Glenish and Slieve Glah. A 2012 JORC estimate states Indicated and Inferred resources of 320,000 Oz Au and 197,000 Oz Au, with an overall grade of 2 g/t Au, based on analysis of a fraction of the Clontibret area, drilled to a maximum depth of 350 metres. The deposit remains open in all directions as well as depth, and gold intersections including 16.6m at 6.5 g/t Au have been recorded outside the current resource area. Conroy says the Clontibret deposit is geologically comparable to the prolific Fosterville deposit in Victoria, Australia.
The company is also targeting other metals for which the Longford–Down Massif is known, including zinc, lead, copper and antimony. It also has exploration interests in Finland’s Lapland gold belt, not far from Europe’s largest gold repository, the 4 million Oz Au mine at Kittila. Exploration has identified gold-in-soil values of up to 4,470 Au ppb. Continued analysis of the results may justify an application for further gold exploration acreage in the country.
For exploration and resource development company Empire Metals (AIM:EEE) 2020 was a challenging, though potentially transformative year, with some key acquisitions and sales enabling the company to move into 2021 in robust form.
It has sold a 50pc interest in the Bolnisi Copper and Gold Project in the country of Georgia, the company’s long time focus, and entered into an agreement with Philips Exploration Pty Ltd to acquire a 75pc interest in the Eclipse Gold Project, in Western Australia, for AUD$100,000 (approximately £55,000) in cash, with a further AUD$150,000 (£82,144) to be settled through the issue of shares. The agreement includes a provision giving Empire the option to acquire the remaining 25pc of the project.
Eclipse’s long history reflects Western Australia’s gold mining heritage. The mine, which has changed hands several times since the turn of the last century, was sunk to its current depth of 78 metres in 1910, and has recorded historic production of 954 tonnes at 24.6 g/t Au for 754.25 oz Au. Sporadic re-exploration since the 1990s has hinted at the mine’s continued potential.
The company has also entered into a Binding Heads of Agreement with Australian-listed Artemis Resources Limited (ASX:ARV) to acquire a 41pc interest in the Munni Munni Palladium Project in West Pilbara, Western Australia, a 64km2 exploration licence with a JORC-compliant Resource of 24Mt @ 2.9 g/t Platinum Group Element (PGE) and gold (12.4Mt Measured, 9.8Mt Indicated, and 1.4Mt Inferred).
With a portfolio of holdings encompassing gold, copper, and nickel miners, betting apps for YouTube sports channels, and avant-garde Japanese whisky, the investment strategy pursued by Gunsynd (AIM:GUN) offers a particularly pure example of the time honoured principle of diversification.
The company’s most significant interest remains its 17.34pc stake in Rincon Resources (ASX:RCR), a gold and copper exploration company focused on Western Australia. Rincon, which listed on the ASX just before Christmas following a AUD$6m raise, has 100pc interests in three highly prospective projects in Western Australia, the South Telfer, Laverton and Kiwirrkurra Projects, all scheduled for drilling this year.
The largest, the South Telfer Project, consists of six exploration licences and two prospecting licences covering approximately 540 sq km with of prospective 40 km strike geology. Rincon’s analysis of extensive historical exploration data including some 260 drill holes and more than a thousand surface assays, has identified multiple targets, the most advanced of which, the Hasties Prospect, is only 10 km south of Newcrest Mining’s (ASX:NCM) Telfer Gold Mine, which has produced 27 million ounces of gold over the past 45 years. Another gold anomaly has been identified through aircore drilling at the Westin Prospect, along strike from the Telfer trend.
Other interests include the Laverton Gold Project, comprising two exploration licences covering approximately 42 sq km within the Mt Margaret-Murrin Greenstone belt, where gold mineralisation of up to 7.00m @ 15.90g/t Au has been identified through historical workings and drilling; the Kiwirrkurra Project, a single exploration licence covering 126 sq km of the Central Australian Suture in the West Arunta Province, prospective for iron oxide copper-gold style mineralisation as well as orogenic gold mineralisation; a stake in Eagle Mountain (ASX:EM2), also focused on copper and gold, exploring advanced and greenfield projects in Arizona; and an interest in Pacific Nickel Mines (ASX:PNM), which has recently acquired two advanced high-grade nickel exploration projects within the Solomon Islands.
Lexington Gold (AIM:LEX) is working to realise the potential of four gold projects covering a 1,675 acre site crossing the Carolina Super Terrane geological feature in North and South Carolina, a historic mining site to which the industry has only recently begun to apply modern mining technologies. Lexington’s assets sit amidst multi-million-ounce mines operated by large-scale companies, including the world class Haile Mine run by the OceanaGold Corporation (ASX/TSX:OGC).
The JKL Project, which combines the Jones-Keystone Properties and the Loﬂin Properties, was first mined by small scale prospectors from 1852 until the Civil War (1861) and then again up and until the mid-1930s. The site is studded with pits, trenches, shafts, adits and glory holes at several workings, offering evidence of widespread gold mineralisation with grades ranging between 0.5g/t to 2.5g/t within a structurally complex setting typical of the CST.
Assay results from the first three drill holes from the company’s recently completed six-hole Phase 1 drilling campaign reveal intersections of significant gold mineralisation above 100m depth. Lexington will use the results to establish an initial maiden resource estimate for JKL with a view to expanding it through additional future drilling.
Landore Resources (AIM:LND) is a gold, nickel, copper and PGE miner focused on the 100pc owned Junior Lake Property, in the province of Ontario, Canada. The Property is prospective for a variety of minerals, encompassing sites including the BAM Gold Deposit, the B4-7 Nickel-Copper-Cobalt-Platinum-Palladium-Gold Deposit, the VW Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Deposit, the Lamaune Gold Prospect, and the Lamaune Iron Prospect. (Landore also owns or has the mineral rights to a further eight properties with 99 claims in Nevada.)
The Junior Lake Property’s known mineral resources and prospects are located within an Archean-age greenstone belt some 0.5 to 1.5 kilometres wide and 31 kilometres long. The BAM Gold Deposit, situated within a 2.7 kilometre geophysical anomaly midway along the belt, was discovered little more than five years ago, but Landore has elaborated its potential through several exploration programmes and studies.
The most recent Mineral Resource Estimate (MRE) for the Property, published last January, reported a resource of 31,083,000 tonnes at 1.02 grams/tonne (g/t) for 1,015,000 ounces of gold, including 21,930,000 tonnes at 1.06g/t for 747,000 ounces gold in the Indicated category. The company’s current drilling programme aims to extend the Property’s defined resource of 1,015,000 ounces of gold, and test the depth potential of its mineralisation.
The company’s drilling updates note good progress so far. In April it reported ‘bonanza grade gold’ of 432.0 grams/tonne gold over 0.32 metres had been intersected in drill hole 0421-785, in the footwall below the currently defined East pit of the BAM Gold Deposit. (Bonanza grade is an industry term for the discovery of more than 34 grams of gold per tonne or one troy ounce of gold per tonne.)
Though Landore is currently focused on gold the Junior Lake Property is also prospective for nickel, copper, cobalt, lithium and PGE metals.
Natural resource investment and exploration company MetalNRG (LON:MNRG) covers a wide spectrum of the energy and commodities markets, spanning hydrocarbons, renewables, gold, and even uranium, across the UK, the US, Italy, Africa and central Asia.
Its primary interest is the Gold Ridge Project, encompassing three historic underground gold mines, Gold Prince, Gold Ridge and Dives, mined intermittently since the mid-1800s, which MetalNRG believes offer significant potential for new discoveries. Samples show consistent unmined mineralisation, with gold values ranging from 0.05 to 6.5 g/t, dump material from historic mining recording results as high as 115 ounces per tonne gold. Gold Prince produced approximately 22,000 oz up until it was last mined 25 years ago.
The company is currently completing field work focused on lithology and compiling data collected from several previous operators into a modern 3D platform with a view to exploration trenching over selected targets and additional soil sampling in Q3 this year. Mineral lease agreements are being negotiated with adjacent land owners to allow additional targets to be explored.
A newly published Competent Person’s Report considers that the mapping and sampling conducted to date suggests the Project ‘has the potential for the discovery of further, minable gold mineralisation’, with a number of opportunities sitting between and adjacent to the three mines. Further structural mapping, both on the surface and underground, should help define the structural history of the project area and its controls on gold mineralisation, informing future geochemical and geophysics surveys.
Gold and base metals miner Panther Metals (LON:PALM), one of the most popular small cap mining stocks over the past year, continues to issue positive updates on its exploration of its Western Australia and Canada assets.
The Big Bear Gold Project in north-western Ontario, when acquired in early 2018, covered an area of 46 sq km encompassing three legacy sites studded with dozens of mining claims. Panther expanded the asset last July by acquiring the Dotted Lake Property, approximately 20km from Barrick Gold’s Hemlo Gold Mine, which has produced more 21 million ounces of gold over the past 30 years.
Panther undertook exploration fieldwork at Big Bear last summer, soil and rock sampling, outcrop mapping, and a helicopter electromagnetic survey delineating five prospective target areas, with two of them, Cook Lake East (with a strike length of over 600m) and Big Duck Creek (striking at least 580m) designated high priorities for further groundwork. Airborne surveys over Dotted Lake have identified 138 geophysical anomalies, which are currently being evaluated and prioritised for a future diamond drilling programme.
The company has Western Australian assets, the Marrakai and Annaburroo Gold Projects, near Darwin in the Northern Territory. Marrakai, covering an area of 10.1 sq km, is near the Rustlers Roost project, one of the largest gold mines in the region. Annaburroo is a largely unexplored licence covering 149.8 sq km. High grades of gold mineralization have been identified at four potential exploration targets at Annaburroo, there may be much more to come: only 5pc of the project area has been sampled so far.
Last November Panther acquired its first post-discovery opportunity in Western Australia, the Merolia Gold Project, a portfolio of nine exploration tenements covering an an area of some 435 sq km in one of Western Australia’s prolific gold producing areas, near the Granny Smith (3 Moz), Sunrise Dam (8 Moz) and Wallaby (8 Moz) gold mines.
Power Metal Resources
Power Metal Resources (LON: POW) has spread its net wide in pursuit of a company-making opportunity, pursuing a variety of projects ranging from early stage greenfield exploration to later stage drill ready prospects, together prospective for minerals and metals that include cobalt, copper, gold, lithium, nickel and PGM. Prospective investors would be well advised to study the company’s fast moving market updates for the details and status of each project. They include:
- A 49.9pc interest in a joint venture with Red Rock Australasia exploring the Victoria Goldfields in southeast Australia, a region that has attracted a particularly high volume of new license applications this year.
- An option to earn in up to a 75pc interest in the Alamo Gold Project, a package of mining claims in west central Arizona, prospective for silver, lead, gold, copper and zinc.
- An 50.8pc interest in the Molopo Farms Complex Project in Botswana, where progress is being made towards a drilling programme that will target high profile nickel sulphide targets.
- A 70pc interest in the Kisinka Project in the DRC, where a 6.8km copper anomaly identified by a sampling programme has been confirmed by a recently completed pitting and mapping programme.
- An option to take a 30pc stake in the Silver Peak Project, a portfolio of mineral claims over a system of high grade, intrusion related, polymetallic Ag-Pb-Zn-Cu veins, part of the historical Eureka Victoria Silver Mine, in southern British Columbia.
Shanta Gold (AIM:SHG) bucked the trend last year, enjoying a successful 2020 during which the East Africa-focused miner made it to net cash, acquired promising new exploration rights from Barrick Gold (Can:ABX), and announced payment of its first dividend, Shanta remains one to watch this year.
The company, which holds producing and prospective licences in Tanzania and Kenya, is strengthening operations at its flagship New Luika Gold Mine, building a mine at the prospective Singida Project, and pursuing exploratory drilling at its new West Kenya project.
Shanta sold 83,228 oz of gold from New Luika last year, up from 80,926 oz in 2019, and added 173,000 oz to the project’s reserves. Upgrades to the mine’s processing plant increased its capacity by 14pc. The company also increased its reserves and grade at the Singida Project, to 243,000 oz at 3.00 g/t, and started mine construction. Once in production Singida is forecast to produce an average of 32,000 oz of gold annually over an initial seven-year mine life at an All-In Sustaining Cost (AISC) of $869 per oz.
Shanta acquired the West Kenya Project from Barrick Gold last August for $7.8m cash, 54.6 million shares, and the offer of a 2pc stake in the Project’s future royalties. Potentially one of the highest-grade gold projects in Africa, with an inferred resource of 1,182,000 oz grading 12.6 g/t, West Kenya comprises 1,121 km2 wholly owned exploration licences and 40 km2 partially owned licences.
The company increased its JORC compliant reserves last year across all of its projects by 82pc to 625,000 oz at a grade of 3.00 g/t, and – courtesy of the West Kenya acquisition – its resources by 75pc, to 3.2 million oz at a grade of 3.53 g/t.
Sunrise Resources (AIM:SRES) is seeking to take advantage of the industry’s gradual turn to sustainability by establishing itself as one of the world’s leading suppliers of pozzolan and perlite, elements in the cement mix that, sourced from naturally occurring volcanic ash and pumice, have a much lower carbon footprint.
But the company has also reported progress with its precious and base metals projects. Last month Shanta announced it has completed a scheduled drill programme at its Bakers Gold Project in Western Australia. All five of the planned drill holes were successfully completed on schedule and to their designated depths. Assay results are expected in a few weeks time.
In January Sunrise announced the new Sundance Gold Project, located in the central portion of the Walker Lane Mineral Belt, a northwest-trending structural zone host to several productive gold and silver deposits. Nine mining claims have been staked following the discovery of anomalous gold in surface samples and the completion of an initial soil sampling programme.