I originally shared this analysis with my Mining Stock Journal subscribers in the October 17th issue. I sent it to Peter Spina at Goldseek.com because I saw the idea from one of his tweets a few weeks earlier. It’s rare when the market mis-prices a larger cap producing mining company, thereby allowing aggressive investors an opportunity to buy into a high quality operation at a level that can produce a rate of return that would be expected from much higher risk junior exploration stocks.
The market put this opportunity in investors’ laps earlier this year and the analysis below was my rationalization for buying this stock when it dropped to $3 (note, I followed this up after FSM dropped below $3 briefly on its Q3 earnings report with a detailed analysis in my Mining Stock Journal which explained why the market was wrong again and buying FSM at $3 would yield an extraordinary ROR). Since Thanksgiving, the FSM is up 21%.
Value Play – Fortuna Silver – (FSM, FVI.TO – US$3.07) – Most of the stocks I follow are micro-cap junior “venture capital” plays. However, I’ll invest in a larger cap producing mining company if I believe the stock has been sold down irrationally to a price that offers superior upside risk/return potential.
Fortuna was founded in 2005 with a focus on acquiring precious metals projects in Latin America (“Fortuna” was Greek goddess of fortune). One of the co-founders and the current CEO, Jorge Ganoza, is from a Peruvian mining family. FSM currently has two low-cost mines in Peru and Mexico. In 2016 it acquired the Lindero gold project in Argentina, a large open pit, heap-leach gold project that should achieve commercial production in early 2020.
San Jose Mine – The 100% owned San Jose Mine, located in Oaxaca, Mexico, began production in July 2011. The mine produces silver and gold from a 3,000 tonne per day underground operation. In 2018 the mine produced 8 million ozs of silver and 53,517 ozs of gold. San Jose currently has a resource of 46 million ozs of silver and 375,000 ozs of gold. Most of the resource consists of proven/probable reserves.
In addition to the existing resource, FSM budgeted $4.3 million for 11,500 meters of brownfield and exploration drilling. “Brownfield” exploration encompasses looking for deposits near or adjacent to an operating mine. The property hosts a mineralization zone – the Victoria zone – that runs “sub-parallel” to one of the main veins (the Trinidad vein) currently being mined. A drill program from 2H 2017 – 2018 returned several high grade intercepts.
Caylloma Mine – The Caylloma Mine is a 100%-owned underground silver, lead and zinc mine operation in Arequipa, Peru. A small amount of gold is also extracted from the ore, the value of which is used to offset the cash costs of mining. For 2019, the mine is expected to produce around 1mm ozs of silver, 27 million lbs of lead and 40-44 million lbs of zinc.
Fortuna has owned the mine since 2005. On a silver-equivalent (AgEq) basis, the all-in sustaining cost of the Caylloma mine averages about $13/oz. Caylloma currently has five years left of reserves but the property hosts potential for step-out resource expansion.
Lindero Gold Project – In July 2016, FSM acquired Goldrock Mines Corp in an all stock transaction valued at $129 million. This gave FSM 100% ownership of the Lindero open pit, heap leach operation in Argentina’s Salta Province. The mine will process 18,750 ton per day over a 13-year mine life, averaging 100,000 ozs of gold annually at an all-in sustaining cost of about $750/oz.
Fortuna announced the start of pre-production mining at Lindero in mid-September. The first gold pour is planned for Q1 2020. This is an incredibly low-cost operation. Part of the reason for this is that the ore body is high grade with a low “strip ratio.” The strip ratio is the amount of waste rock required to be processed in order to extract a tonne of ore. For instance, a 2:1 strip ratio means two tonnes of rock needs to be processed per tonne of mineable ore. Lindero will have a strip ratio below 1 in the first year of operation.
Once Lindero is up and running efficiently, it will be a literal “cash cow,” especially if the price of gold continues to move higher.
The Company also has a of couple exploration assets. The Arizaro Project is situated in the Lindero land package. It’s a gold-copper porphyry project on which preliminary exploration and drilling was conducted by the previous owners and which was followed-up by Fortuna with a surface core drill program of 2,178 meters over 12 holes down to 200 meters. The results encountered near-surface gold-copper porphyry mineralization.
FSM also acquired a 24.2% in Medgold Resources, which owns the Tlamino Project, a high grade gold-silver project in Serbia. FSM has an option to earn a 51% interest in Tlamino by spending $3 million in development by March 2020. It can earn an additional 19%, or 70% of the project economics, by spending an additional $5 million and completing a preliminary economic assessment by March 2023.
Why FSM dropped in price – In the frenzy of the first 6 months of 2016, FSM traded as as high as US$9.50. Since then the stock has trended down to as low as $2.40 in early May 2019. Most of the decline, I believe, can be attributed to the general downtrend in the price of gold and silver from July 2016 through May 2019. In addition, the price of lead fell as much as 30% and zinc has dropped as much as 37% since early 2018.
You can read the rest of this at Goldseek.com
In the latest issue of the Mining Stock Journal released last night, I have another similar large cap mining stock that I believe provides a similar opportunity as the market gift handed out on Fortuna. You can learn more about this newsletter here: Mining Stock Journal information