Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Manipulation of Silver price

The price of Silver rose sharply last night, from a low of $23.20 to a high above $23.90 before settling a little off the highs at just above $23.80 (US price). The AUD price of Silver also saw a similar spike with a close just above $24.20.

It seems likely that the short term correction in the price of Silver is over and that we will be soon on the way to fresh 30 year highs. As I previously blogged in mid September I believe Silver is in the process of forming a parabolic spike that will take the price to a minimum $28-31. However, there are events that could push the price much higher and comments overnight from Bart Chilton could very well point to information that could be the catalyst to send the price of Silver higher:
Silver Subject to Price Manipulation, Chilton Says
Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- As an investigation of the silver market by the top U.S. commodity regulator entered a third year, a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said today there have been “repeated attempts” to influence prices.

“There have been fraudulent efforts to persuade and deviously control that price,” said Commissioner Bart Chilton at a hearing today in Washington, alleging there have been violations of the Commodity Exchange Act. “Any such violation of the law in this regard should be prosecuted,” he said.

The five-member commission began investigating allegations of price manipulation in the silver futures market in September 2008. The CFTC said in a report that year that it had received “numerous letters, e-mails and phone calls” during the last 20 to 25 years alleging prices were being manipulated downward.
For most of us it's simply confirmation of the obvious. I have seen the topic of Silver or Gold price manipulation dismissed as tinfoil hat material (aka crazy talk with no basis), so to see the same information start to hit reputable/mainstream financial news sites is quite refreshing.

Silver has the most concentrated short position of all commodities recorded by the CFTC:

If any of these large players start having to liquidate their short positions either due to a continued rise in the price of Silver or with the introduction of new laws being considered by the CFTC then we may soon be looking at a Silver price much higher than it is today and likely higher than the $50 top seen in 1980.

Tighter derivatives rules gain headway in U.S., EU
"Quote stuffing," or flooding the market with large numbers of rapid-fire orders and canceling them almost immediately, is also under scrutiny, as is possibly writing new rules requiring traders to test and monitor their algorithms, or sequences of rapid trade orders.

For months, CFTC commissioners have said the agency needs to use its new powers to counter disruptive trades made by high-frequency algorithms.
Reuters - October 26, 2010

Metal-Trading Limits Weighed by U.S. Regulator
March 25 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. regulators are considering limits on how much of the market for metals including gold and copper that speculators can control after last year’s financial crisis spurred record swings in futures prices.

The U.S. should be on the “fast track” to expand regulation because “excessive speculation” by hedge funds and other large traders are “contorting” the market, Bart Chilton, one of five members of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said today during a public meeting in Washington.
Bloomberg - March 25th, 2010

Disclosure: Position held in Gold & Silver. Not investment advice. Do your own research.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Silver Mines Limited (SVL) - Resource Upgrade

It's an exciting time for Silver and related stocks as the price of Silver has risen strongly over the past couple of months. A little over a month ago I suggested Silver was heading into a parabolic spike and it looks very much to be doing just that. It hit an intraday peak of US$24.90 an ounce just 10 days ago, then corrected 8.5% to an intraday low of $22.78 and currently sits a little higher closing on Friday at $23.25. Where to from here? I think we are still only part way into the spike and that soon Silver will regain it's legs and continue to climb....sharply. I am still confident that my short term target of $28 to $31 (or higher) will be met (likely before the end of the year).

The share price of Silver Mines Limited (SVL) has risen dramatically since August 16th when it released an announcement titled:

Further High Grade Silver at Webb`s up to 100 oz/tonne

The announcement included the below drilling results (highlights):
RC097 – 4m @ 823 g/t silver from 90m (incl. 1m @ 2095 g/t Ag)
RC098 – 24m @ 316 g/t silver from 84m (incl. 1m @ 1600 g/t Ag)
RC100 – 11m @ 635 g/t silver from 74m (inlc. 1m @ 3008g/t Ag)

The day prior to this announcement SVL closed at 10c, Friday October 22nd (a little over 2 months later) SVL closed at 28.5c, a 185% rise in share price. The share price appreciation has been driven predominantly by exceptional drilling result, a rise in the price of Silver as well as the expectation for a resource upgrade that has been expected for some time now.

The resource/model update has been in the works since late 2009, in April 2010 the company announced they were expecting it to be released within days, however impressive new drilling results prompted them to hold off so that they could include these in an updated model and upgrade. SVL went into a trading halt this Thursday just been with the news that the resource upgrade would be announced to the market on or before Monday.

Today we saw the results of this upgrade:

10.19m oz of Silver (121% increase over previous resource of 4.6m oz)
Increase in the grade of resource from 200g/t to 256g/t (28% increase)

Further to the above results the announcement indicated that drilling will recommence shortly which they expect will further add to this resource.

SVLs resource is 3.25x the grade of AYNs Silver resource (79g/t) and 2.65x the grade of CCUs Silver reserve (97g/t). So while both of these other companies have a larger quantity of Silver, if SVL makes it to production, they should have lower costs per ounce to mine given the higher grade per ton.

I have been over some of this information in a previous blog which briefly covered the 3 pure Silver plays listed on the ASX, but thought it was worth rehashing for the sake of any new readers and with the updated resource.

Share price: 28.5c (as of close 20/10/2010)
Number of shares: 94m
Number of options: 30m (12c, May 2011)
Market cap (undiluted): $26.8m
Cash: $1.8m + $472k = $2.27m (placement/end of June Qtr)
Options conversion will provide another $3.6m in cash by May 2011
Silver resource: 10.19m Oz
Market Cap / Resource = $2.63 p/oz

Silver Mines listed on the ASX in January 2007 with the purpose of exploring several tenements in the New England region of north-eastern New South Wales. The tenements are all considered prospective for silver and to a lesser extent gold and base metals. Their tenements consist of over 1,300 km2 of prospective ground in an under explored province. Webb’s Silver has a history of mine production over 1885-1901 and 1962-1965, the mine produced about 40,000t @ 700g/t Ag.

13,000m worth of drilling to date has been completed at the Webb’s project with another 4000m planned by years end.

While the Webb's Silver project is clearly SVL's most prospective tenement, they do have others with potential, but these have been placed on care and maintenance until they have appropriate financing to explore further.

Mole River (ELs 6114, 6512 and 6771)
NW of Tenterfield, NSW. Silver, gold and base metals. 295 sq km. Encouraging sampling results included; up to 552 g/t Ag, 5.39 % Pb, 1.47 % Zn & 0.5 % Cu (30 July 2007 Activities Report).

Booroowah JV (EL6269)Booroowah, Sth Central NSW. Contains the historic Wallah Wallah Silver-Lead-Zinc mine. Located in the Lachlan Fold Belt. SVL can earn 50% by spending $95k in a joint venture with Australian Oriental Minerals (ASX.AOM) - SVL has already spent approximately $60k.

Tasmania (EL 20/2008)
15 square kilometres in Western Tasmania southwest of the Rosebery mine. The area was previously held by Zinifex Australia Limited and lies within the most mineralised sector of the Mount Read Volcanics Belt, which hosts three of Tasmania's six world class ore bodies. The tenement contains 28 known mineralised sites, mostly described as prospects or historic workings including Devonian copper, copper-gold and lead-zinc-silver vein systems.


Disclosure: Position held in SVL. Not investment advice. Do your own research.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gold in Japan

This is likely to be a fairly brief blog with more photos than content. I am currently in Japan and thought I would share some sightings, visits & purchases that may interest other Gold investors.

While in Kyoto I visited several temples and shrines, one of which was called the 'Temple of the Golden Pavilion' (also known by other names, see Wikipedia for more information). The top two floors of this temple are covered in pure Gold leaf. It is a popular spot for tourists and I had to fight crowds to get the below photo.

Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kinkaku-ji) - Kyoto

While in Tokyo I decided to check out the Japan Mint. It was located a short walk from the Otsuka Station on the JR Yamanote Line (I believe there are other stations within walking distance), right next to the Sunshine City complex (well known shopping/entertainment centre).

From the outside the Mint complex is fairly nondescript, you wouldn't even know what you were looking at unless you can read Japanese or were looking specifically for it. There were several banners such as the below which I assume help identify it to the local population.

Translation: Japan Mint (?)

The entrance was down a small street around the back of the Mint complex. Once through the gate you are required to sign in with name, time and country of origin and are issued with a pass that you clip on to your shirt. The staff at the gate had fairly poor English skills and I don't speak Japanese so communication was a little difficult at first, however they called down one of the museum tour guides who spoke English well and showed us through the museum on a brief tour pointing out interesting pieces and facts. Photos of some objects was allowed, below are a few themed coin sets that have been released by the Japan Mint.

Coins on display in the Japan Mint Museum

Also present at the museum were coins from the Silver Prefecture Coin program. 47 coins are being released (started in 2008, last coin released in 2016) as part of the series.

Silver Prefecture Coins in a display case

There were quite a few interesting coins and displays at the Mint including: 
  • Some coins dating back over 1300 years
  • Old minting equipment & machines
  • Displays showing the coin stamping & die cast creation process
  • A machine which you could put circulating coins into and it would check the weight, diameter, thickness for consistency ensuring the coin was in 'good health' 
  • A couple of nice large pieces of bullion which you were able to touch (15kg Gold bar, 30.5kg Silver)
  • Coins from other Mints in Australia, Canada, Singapore and other Countries
There were other bits an pieces, it will take you around 15 minutes to wander around and see everything.

Following the museum tour our guide took us over to the shop. I was hoping they would have the Silver coins from the Prefecture series available for purchase, but unfortunately this was not the case. They had some commemorative coins acknowledging the series so I picked up the Kyoto version (It cost 1000 Yen, around AUD$13). 

Kyoto Bicolor clad coin, Prefecture commemorative

Also I picked up a 2010 Standard Proof Coin Set for 7,500 Yen, which is around AUD$100. It's housed in an attractive leather and felt holder which folds up into a plastic slip cover for easy storage when not on display.

The most disappointing part of the Mint visit was the inability to purchase Gold or Silver coins in the shop. There were some Silver paper weights, but not having the ability to purchase the Prefecture coins directly from the Mint (at least not the Tokyo branch) seemed very odd.

Following the trip to the Mint I made my way to Shinjuku where I had been informed (by a member of Silver Stackers) that there was a bullion dealer. The Shinjuku train station is huge, busy and can be confusing to navigate, I ended up on a 1 hour walk looking for the store when it was only 5 minutes from the station!

Ginza Tanaka: A short walk from Shinjuku Station

The store mainly has jewellery on display, but did have Gold and Platinum bullion as well, which they sell as individual pieces or in pendants/holders. Below is a picture of their main "bullion" display case.

Ginza Tanaka: Bullion display case

I was a little surprised that they did not seem to stock any Silver bullion products (only Gold and Platinum).

Their service was fantastic, a polite saleswoman assisted with my pricing queries and then sat me down while organising the product I'd purchased, calculating the removal of tax from the price (due to being from O/S) and boxing the item up.

The final presentation of the product was immaculate. I'm used to small paper/plastic bags upon purchase in Adelaide so a small box, cleaning cloth, cleaning guide, etc was a pleasant surprise.

Packaging of purchase from Ginza Tanaka

The piece I purchased was a 1/10oz Maple Gold coin and an 18k pendant/holder. The cost (after tax removal) was 12,821 Yen for the coin and 5,715 Yen for the holder. In AUD at the rate I bought my Yen (around 75 Yen to 1 AUD) the cost was approximately $171 and $76 for a total of $247. Quite reasonable in comparison to the prices I can get in Australia for similar/equivalent.

1/10oz Maple Gold coin with 18k holder

Next week should see the resumption of more regular blogs and content.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Short Break

I have a busy time coming up in my personal life (picture related) which will likely mean posting over the next few weeks will be infrequent (if I get a chance at all).

It's unfortunate timing given the exciting rise in Gold and Silver we are seeing (which I think is likely to continue), but there are some things more important than investing!

I will be back blogging soon enough. In the meantime I am in the progress of writing a page which will be dedicated to the different ways that you can invest in Precious Metals within Australia. It is currently live, although far from complete (so be sure to check back at a later time).


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Who has been buying Gold?

The past 2 years we have seen a string of  big name individuals, hedge funds and countries buying into Gold through the purchase of related equities, ETFs and physical. I thought it might be interesting to briefly go through some of the examples.

Individuals and Companies

There are some big names that have associated with Gold recently. One of the most well known names promoting Gold was recently synonymous for making the "The Greatest Trade Ever" when betting against subprime mortgages and making $15b in just one year for his firm. That is of course John Paulson of Paulson & Co Hedge Fund.

In early 2009 it was identified that Paulson had acquired a large position in GLD (SPDR Gold Trust), further to this it was obvious he was gearing towards increased Gold exposure with larger and new positions in Gold miners.
Paulson’s Hedge Fund Bought Gold Stock, Miners in First Quarter
Paulson & Co., the hedge-fund firm run by billionaire John Paulson, increased its investment in gold and gold-mining shares in the first quarter, according to a regulatory filing. As of the end of the first quarter, Paulson was the largest holder of SPDR Gold Trust, an investment fund that buys gold bullion. The New York-based firm owned 8.7 percent of the fund, valued at $2.8 billion as of March 31, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Later in 2009 Paulson announced he was starting a new Gold fund and was investing $250m of his own personal money.
Paulson Said to Plan Fund Betting on Gold, Mining Companies
Paulson & Co., the hedge-fund firm run by billionaire John Paulson, is starting a gold fund that will invest in mining companies and bullion-related derivatives, a person familiar with the plan said. Paulson will invest as much as $250 million of his own money in the fund.
In a recent talk at the University Club in New York Paulson said that Gold could go to US$2400 based on fundamentals, but momentum could carry the price through to US$4000 per ounce.
How to Bet Like John Paulson
Speaking to the University Club in New York, he said, first, that gold could go to $2,400 an ounce based on the fundamentals–and that momentum could carry it to $4,000 an ounce. Right now it's around $1,300.
Another well known hedge fund manager, Paul Tudor Jones, best known for his predicting of (and tripling of his money using shorts during) Black Monday in 1987 recently said that now is the time for Gold.
Paul Tudor Jones Says Now Is Time, Place for Gold as an Asset
“I have never been a gold bug,” Jones, whose company manages about $11.6 billion out of Greenwich, Connecticut, told investors in an Oct. 15 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “It is just an asset that, like everything else in life, has its time and place. And now is that time.”
Thomas Kaplan (billionaire) who manages Tigris Financial Group was recently quoted saying that the only asset he has confidence in is Gold.
A Billionaire Goes All-In on Gold
Many fund managers and high-rollers have allocated small percentages of their portfolios to gold as a hedge against inflation. But Mr. Kaplan is the bull of bullion. He has gone further than perhaps any other major investor, betting the majority of his wealth on gold and other precious metals. And it reflects his deeply held conviction that global economic instability could bring rising demand for gold.
In early 2009 Soros was seen to be promoting Gold as an asset that people will be driven into through fear.
Gold Is a Good Bet, Soros Implies
Soros said “that’s the fear that drives people into gold.” Soros wouldn’t say whether he’s investing in or owns gold but certainly implied that gold is a safer and good bet. More explicitly, he agreed with the view there’s a bubble in Treasuries that’s likely to burst sooner rather than later. If even a very small amount of the capital in the Treasury and bond markets flow into the very small gold market, gold will rise very significantly in the coming months.
Seeking Alpha
In late 2009 Soros was quoted as having said that Gold is the "ultimate bubble". Actions speak louder than words however and with the Soros Fund continuing to accumulate positions in the 4th quarter it was obvious that this was one bubble that he wanted a part of.

Soros warns that gold is the ‘ultimate bubble’
As of June 30, the Soros fund held 5.24 million shares of the SPDR Gold Trust, a stake worth about $650 million on Tuesday. Soros was the third-largest fund in the exchange-traded fund at the end of the second quarter.

The Soros fund also held equity holdings in miners of gold and other minerals worth almost $250 million on June 30.
Other notable figures who have talked about buying precious metals in recent years include: Peter Schiff, Marc Faber, Jim Rogers, Eric Sprott and I'm sure there are others I've missed. 


Further to the buying above by individuals and hedge funds, there has been quite a few countries adding to the Gold positions/reserves via their central banks.

China is the first that comes to mind, they announced in early 2009 that they had increased their Gold reserves by 76% to a total of 1,054 tons. It would be prudent to expect that they are continuing to add to their position quietly both through purchase of internal production as well as securing interests in foreign companies which have Gold exposure/assets.

China Increases Gold Reserves 76% to Fifth-Largest
China boosted its gold reserves by 76 percent since 2003 and has the world’s fifth-biggest holding by country, said Hu Xiaolian, head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

The nation increased its reserves by 454 tons to 1,054 tons through domestic purchases and refining scrap metal, Hu said in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency today. The amount is more than Switzerland’s 1,040 tons, World Gold Council data show, and is worth $31 billion at current prices.

Later in 2009 it was announced that India had bought 200 tons of the 400+ that the IMF had announced they were selling. It was from around the time of this purchase with Gold at US$1045 that the price of Gold really started to pickup momentum which carried it to a price higher than $1200 by early December before falling in price and consolidating over the next 8 months.
Gold Trades Near Record as Indian Central Bank Buys From IMF
Gold traded within 0.5 percent of a record after India’s central bank bought 200 metric tons of the metal from the International Monetary Fund, heightening speculation about more official purchases.

“It’s positive in many ways,” said James Moore, an analyst at in London. “It suggests central banks, rather than being net sellers, are now looking at becoming net buyers. It’s a surprise because everybody was talking about China being the buyer.”
 India's purchase was followed up by a purchase from Mauritius in late 2009.
Mauritius Buys IMF Gold, Follows India as Metal Soars
Mauritius bought 2 metric tons of gold from the International Monetary Fund, underscoring a drive by central banks to boost holdings as the precious metal trades near a record and the dollar slumps. The $71.7 million sale to the Bank of Mauritius was based on market prices on Nov. 11, the IMF said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
 Bangladesh has also recently purchase 10 tons of Gold.
Gold Rises on Bangladesh Purchase From IMF, Demand Speculation
Gold rose for the first time in three days in London on Bangladesh’s purchase of 10 metric tons of bullion from the International Monetary Fund and on speculation that the earlier declines will spur physical demand. Bangladesh’s central bank bought the metal for about $403 million based on market prices prevailing on Sept. 7, the IMF said yesterday.
Russia has been adding to their reserves steadily for some years now. Russia's President, Dmitry Medvedev in July 2009 even pulled out a Gold coin at a G8 meeting proposing it as a potential new world currency.
IMF Gold Assets Fall 16.85 Tons as Russia Adds to its Holdings
The International Monetary Fund’s gold reserves fell by 16.85 metric tons in July as Russia added 16.2 tons to its holdings, according to figures from the Washington-based lender.
 Chart of Russia's central bank Gold reserves:

During a sell off in the Euro Iran announced they were selling Euros and buying US Dollars and Gold.
Iran to sell 45 bln euros, buy dollars, gold
The Iranian central bank has announced that it will sell 45 billion euros from its foreign exchange reserves to buy dollars and gold, China's official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday, citing unspecified Iranian media reports.
 Even Thailand is now suspected of increasing their Gold holdings.
Thailand: who’s buying gold?
Gold demand is volatile, especially in Asia, but what on earth is happening in Thailand? According to some numbers buried in the Thai customs website, gold imports in July, the latest month for which data is available, hit Bt55.4bn ($1.8bn), which is equivalent to a bit less than 45 tonnes and more than 13 times June imports of Bt4.1bn ($130m).
Financial Times

Who else?

To recap, we have some of the world's richest men and smartest hedge fund managers who have been buying Gold, Paulson, Soros, Kaplan, Tudor Jones , Sprott, Rogers, Schiff, Faber and others. Further to this China has been buying as well as India, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Russia, Iran and potentially Thailand...

So that brings us to the question, who else has been buying Gold? Well I for one have been buying Gold, personally my exposure is predominantly through Gold explorers and producers listed on the ASX.

That leaves only one question, have you been buying Gold?


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tribune Resources NL (TBR)

An update to the below profile of Tribune Resources was posted to the blog September 20th, 2011 (click below link):

Follow up for Tribune Resources

Tribune Resources made a new 52 week high on Friday, closing the day 30% higher than the day prior.

Over the past financial year Tribune has not released any investor presentations. Their market announcements contain no flashy graphics and contain little more than the bare facts. I have seen no broker reports or recommendations. Often there is little depth with only a few buyers and sellers on each side.

What a boring company you must be thinking! Why the big move? For the answers you need to read their Annual Report.

Here are some key figures (some as of 30th June from 2010 Annual Report):

Share price: $1.485 (from close October 1st)
Number of shares: 50.3m
Number of options: 4.5m
Market cap (not inclusive of options): $74.7m
Profit for the Year: $19.3m
Earning Per Share: 39.63c (35.95c Diluted)
Cash: $12.9m
Gold in hand (+ in transit):  $55m (spot value as of 30th June)
Gold resource: 478k oz @ 14.2g/t (Tribune's portion, leases & stockpiles)
Position in Rand Mining: $13.3m (26.5m Shares x $0.50)
Market Cap / Resource = $156 p/oz
Top 20 Shareholders hold: 87.7% (73.3% held by top 5)

Tribune holds stakes in Western Australian Gold projects as well as a 100% interest in an Ghana exploration project.

Projects and Ownership:

Kundana (36.75% interest) - Rand Mining holds 12.25% interest*
Seven Mile Hill (50% interest) - Rand Mining holds 50% interest*
Mt Celia (100% interest)
Ghana (100% interest)

*Note: Tribune holds 43% interest in Rand Mining and Rand Mining holds 23% interest in Tribune Resources, so in an indirect way Tribune has a larger interest in these projects than is first apparent.

Further to the above (from the Annual Report) a further 18,189.353 ounces of gold have been credited to Tribune from a recent toll treatment campaign, with a further campaign to have occurred starting mid August with expectations it would be complete by the end of September, so we should expect an announcement about this anytime.

Kundana (East)

Located 25km North West of Kalgoorlie this project is the location of Tribune's Gold resource and source of their revenue. The project ownership is split between Tribune, Rand Mining and Gilt-Edge Mining (wholly owned by Barrick).

There are multiple deposits located within the boundaries of this project.
339,600 tonnes of ore were extracted (from Raleigh deposit) over the financial year at a grade of 13.4g/t (higher than the last 2 financial years), Tribune's cut is 127,373 tonnes (or 55,000 ounces of Gold).

The ore is processed at the Greenfields plant located near Coolgardie.

Agreements are being drafted for financing and development of the Rubicon-Pegasus-Hornet project (other deposits located within the project area).


The project area covers 27.5 sq/km and lies immediately along strike from the Perseus (ASX: PRU) Ayanfuri project (which hosts a resource of 5.3m ounces of Gold). Although Tribune's project area doesn't currently have a defined resource there are several prospects (Dadieso, Japa & Abwaso) within the project area which have returned promising drilling results.

Other untested Au anomalies are under review, where further inspection and geological survey work will be carried out with trenching to follow should results warrant.


Tribune has a lot of potential. The biggest risk here is the liquidity, with the top 20 holding almost 88% that only leaves a small amount for day to day trading on the ASX (assuming no larger players decide to liquidate).

Further to this the very tight registry means that the company is run almost as if it were privately owned, you will have to read between the lines to discover their future intentions. Their plans are not hand fed to the buyer like they often are by a company that markets itself. That said, those that have some confidence reading an annual report will let the figures tell the story.

I suspect that the share price will appreciate further from here into next week, the rally that started after the half yearly report in March lasted approximately 3 weeks and peaked more than 50% higher than the close on March 12th (last trading day before report) and we are in a much more favorable time for Gold stocks today based on sentiment. However, the risk is that even if you take a position and the share price appreciates it may not be that easy to offload at the peak. For a value investor with a medium to long term outlook, Tribune (in my opinion) represents excellent value if you can buy a position around current prices.


Disclosure: Position held in TBR. Not investment advice. Do your own research.