In the July 27th issue of the Mining Stock Journal, I discussed briefly the run-up in Novo Resources‘ stock (NSRPF, NVO.V). At that point the stock, which had gone parabolic, was trading at US$1.93 for a $225 million market-cap. In defiance of any type of fundamental valuation logic, Novo continued straight up, high-ticking at $4.71. Currently as I write this, the stock is trading at $3.26. At $4/share on a fully diluted basis (the warrants and options are currently well in the money) the stock sports a $656 million market cap. This is absolute insanity for a company which does not have any proved resource beyond 495,000 of indicated/inferred resource at a project (Beatons Creek) not related to the news flow from the project (Karratha) that is driving the run-up in the stock. Investors are throwing money into this stock with little to no understanding of the meaning behind the contents of the news being released. (Click in image to enlarge):
To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Novo is not for real. It very well could be. What I’m stressing is that very little is known about what Novo may or may not have at Karratha based on the information that has been gathered by the Company and released to the public. Just like the pretty pictures of beautiful gold nuggets from outcroppings at Karratha that Novo has put in its corporate presentation, I can show you pictures given to me from the management at Eurasian Minerals from its Koonenberry project in Australia of beautiful gold nuggets collected from “coarse gold” samples. That was eight years ago and the project has not been advanced from that time.
In general, it is unlikely that anything above an inferred mineral resource can be estimated from surface sampling and assaying that has been on Karratha’s coarse gold environment. While coarse gold can be indicative of a high-grade gold-bearing system beneath the surface, the presence of very high grade nuggets of coarse gold do not guarantee it. Economic grades of gold are generally contained within discrete ore shoots and are surrounded by low-grade material. The presence of coarse gold can complicate the exploration process.
I exchanged emails with a senior officer at another mining company with an Australian presence to see if he had any knowledge or thoughts on Novo’s situation. He said that Quinton Hennigh (Chairman) “has a real nose for this stuff.” But, as I have suggested above, he admitted that only underground drilling (much deeper than the couple of bulk samples produced from trenching) will tell us where the real source of the gold is, assuming it’s there to be found.
This is a project that will take years to explore and assess. I’m guesstimating at this point the project would be 8-10 years away from transitioning into a commissioned mining operation. Between now and then there’s is a substantial amount of expensive exploration and de-risking that needs to occur. Again, the presence of high-grade course gold-bearing nuggets does not guarantee that an economically mineable resource exists below the surface.
I’m not trying to discourage anyone from taking a shot at Novo. But the odds that it’s the next large deposit discovered (in excess of 10 million ozs) is small. My view is that this would be a great risk/return proposition if the stock were still under a $30-50 million market cap. For my risky investment allocation, I think Precipitate or Mineral Mountain represent better risk/return speculative bets than Novo at a $600 million market cap.
NOTE – Subsequent Event: It was announced on September 5th that Kirkland Lake (KIRK, KL.TO, market cap of US$3.4 billion) would be investing up to $56 million for up 7.7% of Novo’s stock in a private placement. While this is a positive event in terms of providing the Company with additional funds for drilling, we still need to see drill results – and a lot of drill results. This does not change my overall view that the stock price has run ahead of itself given what is known about the potential mineralization on the project. I would sell into the move higher today and wait for the stock to pullback to a lower level before taking a longer term position in the Company’s stock.
The stock closed at US$3.26 today (Thursday). In the last issue of the Mining stock Journal I recommended selling it at US$3.76. The stock is down 25.4% from its high-close (US$4.33) and 30.7% from its all-time high trade ($4.71). I’m not recommending avoiding the stock at all. This could be a very interesting speculative play. But it’s a function of the cost to invest. At $600 million, I will let others bear the exploration risk. If the stock were to pullback below $2 – and it might not – I will probably talk to my partners about putting some in the fund. I think the $1.40 area is a good entry point but it may never trade that low again.
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