Currently viewing Global edition

Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser

About half the current population of TSXV junior miners don't have enough cash to keep the lights on for another year, investment guru John Kaiser said at PDAC 2019.
Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser Junior mining sector facing mass exodus, says Kaiser

John Kaiser says higher metal prices could spur renewed investment interest in the junior resource sector

Henry Lazenby in Toronto

While junior resource company funding recovered from 2016 to mid-2018, it had since been weak, putting many in the sector on a "path to extinction".

Kaiser said the cannabis-crypto bubble that had in the past few years sucked the oxygen out of the juniors' room had now passed and was no longer an excuse. But what exactly would bring investors with risk capital back to resource juniors remained a very complex issue, he said.

Kaiser believes institutional money will not come back to the sector until a distinct multi-year uptrend has become visible, something which in his view is unlikely to happen for metals other than gold in a current macro environment of trade protectionism. This was potentially bad news for "optionality plays" in the short term, he said.

The junior sector had been so badly beaten down even the ‘PDAC curse' failed to materialise over the past two years.

Kaiser coined the term to refer to buoyant stock prices in the first two months of the year leading up to the PDAC event, that crashed soon after. This occurred in 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2016.

He expected gold to develop a sustained real-price uptrend linked to the current uncertainty about where the world was headed, even if and when US president Donald Trump disappeared from the global stage.

"A 50% increase to US$2,000 over the next few years would not stir the animal spirits in the way the 600% rise to $1,900 did, but in the absence of inflation or fiat currency debasement, a 50% real price rise has profound implications for resource juniors by lowering the threshold for what counts as a viable discovery," he said.

"[But] whatever was a dog yesterday stays a dog today, unless the real price increases."

Kaiser said discovery exploration and its ‘S-curve bubble dynamics', when a discovery was made that appeared to work at prevailing metal prices, would potentially help attract discerning retail audiences back to the space.

He expected retail interest to re-emerge when gold had reached $1,400, because it would underscore the perception that if new but marginal mineralisation was intersected, it could eventually end up in the money.

Kaiser recommended junior company management teams regularly reviewed their "optionality" from a discovery-exploration perspective . They needed to ask, is what we can see from past exploration really all there is about the particular deposit?

He said the junior resource sector had not seen a bubble since 2011.

It was in serious need of a hike in metal prices to spur new investment into action.

"We're in the eighth year of famine. What will follow? Feast, or another famine to push the sector towards extinction?"