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Yukon Gold Rush: No Place For Greenhorns

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There is a modern day “Gold Rush” taking place in the Yukon. Gold and Silver in the Yukon is far from a new story, its beginnings date back to the early 1800s. The Yukon has exacted a steep price on those who would make their fortune, with its harsh lands and harsher climate. The indigenous Cholkoot Tribe reportedly didn’t take kindly to their land being invaded by outsiders, and defended themselves aptly. One hardy soul named George Holt braved these conditions during the 1870s and produced enough gold for others to take notice. By 1880, there were nearly 200 gold panners working the sandbars along the Yukon River.

 

As I understand it, luck had more to do with the Yukon Gold Rush than skill. A traveler (non prospector), George Washington Carmack and two friends happened upon a large gold nugget nearly buried in the Klondike River. Word spread of the shear size of this nugget. By 1898, over 100,000 adventurers departed from whence they came for the Yukon to strike it rich. Sadly, only 40,000 actually survived the trip.

 

So, history repeats itself in the Yukon over a century later. In 2008, Underworld Resources reported significant mineralization on its White Gold Property. It wasn’t a massive nugget, but surface gold “open” in all directions. As in the past, the ground clear up to Dawson must have shook as exploration companies rushed in. Intrepid claimstakers, whom had braved the downturn of gold prices in years past, finally get to rock on the front porch with a glint in their eye and potential royalties in their pocket.

 

Gold exploration continues actively in many areas spurred on by the successful exploration of the White Gold Property by Underworld Resources (now owned by Kinross). One has to ask, where did all the alluvial gold come from that was panned in the past? Is the source of this gold being closed in on? Investors with a passion for junior miners are looking for the next best story, the next junior to come up with broad intercepts, the next “ten bagger”.

 

With online brokerage accounts, many of us rushed into the Yukon along with the exploration companies. Just like the greenhorns of the past, we were/are not all seasoned prospectors. How will we choose the best company(s) ? We can search the trading communities for activity, news and advice. However these sites can be akin to sacred grounds, and like the Cholkoot, they will guard their homelands. Other investors will scour geologic maps piecing together information and doing their due diligence. They will wait patiently for surveys, drill results and the release of reports. Technical traders will diligently stare at screens watching for green arrows, omens and indicators. Regardless of your developing or preferred method, there is something that we should all spot before investing.

 

Are we looking for a Spotted Owl? No, but that may slow up the permitting process. We should be shielding our eyes with a hand over brow, squinting for a glimpse of shareholder value. There simply are traits or “selection criteria” that should distinguish companies that will benefit shareholders. It is not enough for the company to turn a profit, we as shareholders must benefit also.

 

To demonstrate, I will furnish the abstracts for two companies as presented on their respective websites in 2008. Then we will dig a bit deeper, and find the cash and share structure of each company. In illustrating differences in how these companies progressed from 2008 until now, hopefully this will provide investors with clues to let them separate the “pretenders” from the “contenders”. Before introducing the two companies, a disclaimer: I have owned shares of both as various times. I present to you, the abstracts for Klondike Silver and Strategic Metals.

 

 

Screening:

 

Klondike Silver Corp has assembled a portfolio of properties in historic mineral districts in North America, and is applying advanced exploration technologies to add value to these core assets. Klondike Silver is reviving the Gowganda and Elk Lake silver camps in Ontario, and the world-famous Klondike district of Yukon Territory. The Company owns a 100 TPD (“tons per day”) fully operational flotation-mill in Sandon, BC, which is currently processing material from one of its Yukon properties, and local mines in the historic Slocan Silver Camp. Klondike Silver is a member of the Hughes Exploration Group of Companies.  It is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the symbol KS.V and “pink-sheets” under the symbol KLSVF.PK. Its share price for the fall of 2009 ranged from .05-.09.

 

Discussion: At first glance, we see that they are both producing silver and exploring new properties. How profitable the silver milling operation is needs to be investigated. They have several prospective properties, some of which are in the Yukon. They were sitting at 6 cents with S/O at 73 million when I listed them in our Mining Database (Klondike Silver.) a couple of years ago. They had over $1 million in cash and equivalents, and had lost (.01) diluted in the last quarter early 2009. This appeared to be a prospective company, with holdings in a hot area. While being a junior silver producer, is holds lands with both gold and silver potentially.

 

Strategic Metals Ltd. is a junior mining company specializing in generative exploration in northwestern Canada. Its business model entails acquiring quality prospects, advancing them to drill stage and then arranging an option or outright sale. This generative model is designed to minimize shareholder dilution while maximizing exploration expenditures and the probability of success.  Strategic Metals is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the symbol (SMD) and OTC under the symbol (SMDZF). The stock price was ranging from .30-.50 in the fall of 2009.

 

Discussion: While screening the company we find they are a prospect-generator. They do the background research on properties to determine what work or resources have been established in the past. They proceed to do rock chip sampling, overhead surveys, “trenching” and limited drilling to outline/update mineralization on the properties. They generate capital by optioning properties to other exploration companies. They occasionally advance some of the properties themselves through more extensive drilling. They were trading around 40 cents, with 57.6 M shares out with $15 Million in cash for year-end 2008.

 

Selection:

 

Now we peer through the lens of our selection criteria. Before investing it is critical to establish the fully diluted share structure and determine the cash available. Most often these numbers are up-to-date in annual, or quarterly financial reports. The investors’ section of the website may be outdated. Without these data, we truly don’t know what we are hitching our team to.

 

Klondike Silver Share Structure and Cash: For year-end 2008, S/O was 73 Million, which is not excessively diluted. Warrants 7 Mill, flow through shares for year -end 2008 15 Mil and non-flow through share at 2M for a fully diluted total of 92M. One warning flag however, as we read into the financials: there are many properties they are buying into, contingent upon releasing addition shares at various periods. Cash and equivalents for year-end 2008 were @ $1.3 Million. For the number of projects they were taking on, this appeared low.

 

We now fast forward to more current share structure and cash:

28 Apr 2010

Issued 186,228,085

Warrants 115,734,232

Options 17,178,500

Fully Diluted 320,190,817

Cash 347,008

 

Discussion: Indeed, they did release a good many shares in the form of warrants. They needed to raise cash for operations and exploration. There are a hefty amount of warrants overhanging. They are still cash light, at $347K. Unfortunately, the share price is sideways trading between .03-.05. Corporate is having trouble raising capital for exploration without releasing a tidal wave of shares. There is potential for consolidation, and a reverse split to lower that share structure, and increase the likelihood of raising cash. They are still sitting on prospective lands, but exploration is not robust, and there hasn’t been a news release in several months.

 

Strategic Metals Share Structure and Cash: For year-end 2008, Strategic Metals had 57,616,725 S/O and another 12M in warrants @ 1.16 expiry Aug 2009 and 4M Options outstanding for 72.5 million fully diluted. They had cash and equivalents of $15.8 million. This represents a good share structure and solid cash position. Now we view the current capitalization.

 

Share Capital and Cash 2010:

Issued 66,639.226

Options 5,750,000

Warrants 0.0

Fully diluted 72,389,226

Cash 28,449,628

 

Discussion: Strategic Metals had a strong balance sheet and share structure in 2008. They in fact did a share buy-back that year (unusual for a “junior explorer”), lowering the shares outstanding. The 2008 trading range was .30 to .50 cents. Viewed currently, they are showing no further dilution. They have strengthened the cash available through business ventures such as optioning properties. In doing so, they have both accumulated cash, and also a portfolio of metal and mining company stock from their business partners. Robust exploration is ongoing by both JV partners and their own organic teams. They are currently trading in the 2.90-3.30 dollar range.

 

While the Yukon Gold Rush is on yet again, modern day explorers are searching for the “mother load.” As investors and potential shareholders, we should be searching for value, seeking the companies that will generate profit. We cannot afford to be “greenhorns” for long. Regardless of how big the land package, or how prospective the parcels are, it’s important to monitor the mundane first.

 

Business acumen, JV partners and significant cash in hand offers the possibility for claims to become trends. Diluted share structures and cash starved companies cannot drill, generate little news and few seminal events. They sideways trade at best. Just like the gold rush of the past, only 40,000 of the 100,000 brave souls ever reached the Yukon, let alone found gold. If we hitch our venture capital to poorly managed companies, the Yukon will be rough on us too.

 

 

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Comments (8)Add Comment
Brian Boutilier
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written by Brian Boutilier, March 02, 2011
Subscriber, thanks for posting more background information on the area. I was thinking of Shawn Ryan when I put in the line about the intrepid stakeclaimers rocking on the porch. I'm a fan, and shareholder of both Kaminak and ATAC. They are bothin the data base, written up last year. They appear to be progressing well, a testament to the prospect generator model. I truly hope that they prove up their respective properties: Coffee (Kaminak) and the Nadaline trend (ATAC). I am following the intercepts and area closely.
sailortony
...
written by sailortony, March 02, 2011
Wow, Brian!

You bought SQI yersterday and it went up 25% today!

I like your timing skills.

Please let us know when you decide to buy SMD...lol
0
...
written by subscriber, March 02, 2011
After all was said and done with the Klondike rush, more than 12 million ounces of gold had been pulled from the region. It created an untold number of millionaires from nothing. But it also left behind an extraordinary secret... one that lay hidden for more than 100 years.

You see, the Klondike's gold didn't come from mines. Rather, it came from the rivers and streams. The water there was filled with the stuff. But when the streams and rivers emptied out, the gold rushers left. They had no idea they were walking away from an iceberg whose top had been chipped off.

That is, until Shawn Ryan arrived... and found White Gold . . . .

Unraveling the Mystery of the Yukon

It's rare that you can hang a giant gold discovery on a single person, let alone a new gold rush. But Shawn Ryan is largely responsible for the massive gold rush going on in the Yukon today...

After the 1897 gold rush, the mining world mostly abandoned the Yukon. But remember... most of the gold they found was in rivers and streams. No one ever uncovered the source rocks... somewhere the immense deposits lay waiting to be discovered.

Nearly 100 years after the first gold rush... a modern-day prospector – Shawn Ryan – set about finding that mythic resource. Working on a shoe-string budget, Ryan and his wife demonstrated exactly how to find gold in the Yukon. He took soil samples. Then, he used tools as simple as transparent paper, light tables, and hand-colored maps (later incorporating tools like global-positioning satellite coordinates and Google Earth) to plot anomalous levels of gold and other "pathfinder" minerals on a map. He created a bull's eye for drilling.

Ryan's technique paid off when he found the White Gold project. He optioned the project to a $9 million Vancouver-based junior mining company called Underworld Minerals. . . .

ATAC Resources (TSX V: ATC), a C$588 million gold explorer, discovered gold on its Rau (rhymes with "wow") project in Canada's Yukon Territory last July 2008.

Kaminak Gold Corp. (TSX V: KAM) owns the next best discovery in the Yukon. It's called Coffee.

For those who like to do their own due diligence, here are a couple of possibilities that others like.
Brian Boutilier
...
written by Brian Boutilier, March 02, 2011
Thx Sailortony. Funny, I just got back into Silver Quest yesterday, after review their share structure and property portfolio. They seemed undervalued. Today, one of their JVs posted a resource, and presto (profit). I do love prospect generators, esp in BC and the Yukon.
sailortony
...
written by sailortony, March 02, 2011
Thanks for the analysis, Brian.

Very interesting how you analyze value for an explorer.

You are confirming my DD as I selected Strategic Metals for my Yukon play this year. Waiting for a dip which is not coming....

Also into SQI, Silver Quest, which should payback nicely this year
Jeff Nielson
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written by Jeff Nielson, March 02, 2011
Navderek, I hope you know you're treading on a sensitive subject!

I posted Brian's latest effort on my old blog - and it got significantly MORE hits than all of my own regular posts. Apparently "nice to listen to someone else" is a popular sentiment!

Perhaps it's time for me to become just an "editor"? You know, going from "Jeff Nielson presents..." to "Jeff Nielson presents Brian Boutilier..."

I'm not too proud to ride someone else's coat-tails!
Brian Boutilier
...
written by Brian Boutilier, March 02, 2011
You bring up one of my main points Nav, thanks for the question.
I love to screen for companies to write up, and look for potent share structure. I prefer the below 100M S/O stories that are emerging. Before investing however, I look deeper, and look for the fully diluted share structure, not just the Shares Out (S/O). I look for the latest quarterly report, and usually the last annual report or two. I want to know if they have warrants, options and what business deals may dilute the share structure going forward. How they are progressing lately, gain a sense of movement. Is the company reaching its goals, is the shareholder benefiting?
The botton line is value. Is this company lkely to unlock shareholder value, or dilute it? In this article, SMD unlocked value, and Klondike did not from 2008 to present.
Just to be clear, I'm not bashing Klondike. As I understand it, KS is pending a 20:1 Reverse Split. This may be rough on shareholders that are in at a loss currently. Share consolidation, then another round of financing should put KS in the drivers seat financially. After the share consolidation, they will be in a much stonger position, and potentially a be a good turn-around story. They do have prospective properties. One perhaps to watch.
navderek
...
written by navderek, March 02, 2011
Nice post boot! Nice to listen to someone else other than Jeff for a change!!! Hahahaha just kidding Jeff! :-P

Boot, how do you go about collecting the S/O over time? Do you have to go through the financial releases for each year to get these or is there a convenient way to do this? I would imagine it's a big part of the DD to look at the past performance vs. current performance vs. other equivalent companies in the same industry. I'm just wondering if there is an easier way for the "lazy investor" like me.

Cheers!

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