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2003

Jul 2003 - PayDirt Conference

SWITCH from ZIM to AQP, Poss Spec Buy PPD

  • We attended the Paydirt Platinum Conference on 14-15 July 2003 in Perth, and about a week before that, a South African lunch with the SA Minister of Mines and SA High Commissioner which elaborated on some of the BEE aspects and changes. We have subdivided this one-off comment into 3 areas, namely, the outlook for commodities such as platinum, palladium and nickel; our observations on presentations by AQP, AXM, CSM, LIM, IGO, PLA, PPD and ZIM; and the SA lunch.
  • The outlook for platinum and palladium is mainly based on an excellent presentation by Johnson Matthey (JM) who advertised their new website (www.platinum.matthey.com) which contains a lot more newsy items etc than it previously used to. The outlook for nickel is based on a mix of the presentations but mainly on CSM’s view of chrome demand in China based on their stainless steel outlook.
  • The presentation by JM focused on what had caused the price fluctuations so far this year (to June 2003), namely Chinese jewellery demand stopping at US$700/oz, funds liquidating their long positions, SARS occurring at the second annual seasonal demand time (there are 3 per year : Chinese New Year, May and October). Then Chinese jewellery demand came back, plus the weakness in the US$ and Bush’s comments about fuel cells prompted the funds to return and drive the price back up to about US$650/oz. Platinum to December 2003 and beyond : (Appears to be in short supply, could rise further).
  • Platinum supply is short. The 50% increases in the total production from South Africa and Zimbabwe by 2007 are needed to achieve a balance between supply and demand, any hiccup and there is a shortage. If demand wants to rise further faster, then it can’t, there is simply not enough.
  • The platinum market has been helped (to remain in balance) by Russian and Swiss sales. However, the Russian selling is believed to have effectively gone. Russian sales were down from 1.3moz in 2001 to 980,000oz in 2002, and the 2002 sales were inflated by repaying a platinum based bank loan. So current sales are believed to be just Norilsk and Far Eastern Russian production. The platinum deficit increased from 370,000oz in 2001 to 570,000oz in 2002. It has been kept in check by the Swiss reducing their stock levels by 1.5moz over the past few years, to result in a major shortage of above-ground stocks of platinum. JM was leaving their forecast of US$590/oz to US$690/oz to the end of 2003, the inference being.

Aug 2003 - DnD - LHG, SGX, JBM

SWITCH from LHG to SGX, and JBM too?

  • I attended Diggers ‘n Dealers in Kalgoorlie last week and visited IGO’s Long Nickel mine afterwards (see separate report). I thought that there were a number of signs that we are entering into a resources boom. Unfortunately time restricts me from elaborating in great detail, and so mainly oneline comments have been made. However, the main conclusions based on the presentations, were : (in alphabetical order)
  • SWITCH : LHG to SGX, and possibly JBM partly to LIM or IGO/MCR.
  • BUY : IGO, OXR
  • SPEC BUY : GRD, KZL, MCR, PNA.
  • ACCUMULATE : LIM, NCM, SGW, One’s to watch :
  • APO : on the old SGW tenements at Laverton
  • AUZ : revitalising the old Blair nickel mine which is actually not flooded to surface.
  • GTR : maybe, looked interesting but I have never visited Tennant Creek.
  • And amongst the Major Offshore Golds (South African and North American) : (that I liked)
  • Gold Fields, Anglogold and Harmony. Commodities :
  • Gold : Both Newmont and Gold Fields were projecting higher prices to US$400/oz and beyond.
  • Zinc : Kagara presented a paper showing that the Zinc market appears to have bottomed. Zinc prices are often regarded as highly leveraged because they are coming off such a low base.

Sep 2003 - ZIM and AQP

ZIM - Still A Spec Buy, AQP - Bid Coming ?

  • This comment contains 3 sections, namely Impala’s comments, Zimplats and Aquarius. Impala’s comments The Implats press release that accompanied their year end results last Thursday (28 August), had a few pointers as to what may happen in the future to AQP and ZIM, namely :
  • There still could be another bid for ZIM or even one for Aquarius Since, according to the press release (available on IMP’s website) Continued rationalisation of structure Implats has continued to rationalise its corporate structure as the opportunity has arisen. The interests in Mimosa and Zimplats have been consolidated for a full year for the first time. Although currently these contributions are small, as Implats’ interest in Zimplats rises and as expansions at both these operations progress, these are expected to become more significant in the future.
  • In the interests of simplifying operational structures and creating clarity for investors, further changes can be expected in the near and medium term, if an analysis of these opportunities proves to be value-enhancing to shareholders.
  • If you had any doubts about ZIM’s actual worth, you only have to read the first paragraph of this section, namely : (non italics are our inserted comments) Although currently these contributions are small, as Implats’ interest in Zimplats rises and as expansions at both these operations progress (Mimosa and Zimplats), these are expected to become more significant in the future. (note : AQP has the other 50% of Mimosa)

Nov 2003 - MIC - Prod Forecast

MIC - Production Forecast to 300kozpa at AGM Gold – US$425/oz next ?

  • This comment is based mainly on our attendance at Michelago’s AGM at 3.30pm on 19 Nov 2003 in Sydney, and an update on our viewpoint of the gold price.
  • Michelago (MIC) : Rated as a Spec Buy
  • MIC gave a calendar year production forecast in its 2003 AGM presentation, in accordance with its target of attaining gold production of 300,000ozpa within the coming 5 years or so, as shown below :
  • In response to questions on cash costs, MIC stated that they expected BioGold’s production costs in 2004 to be about US$220/oz to US$230/oz, being based on purchasing concentrates from producers at 55% to 75% of the gold price (depending on what state and type the concentrate is sourced from).
  • The driver for MIC’s share price is probably the signing of the SFJV’s. At this stage, the exploration JV’s are expected to be signed before Christmas, and the production such as BioGold after Grant Thornton has completed its due diligence by the end of 2003. Biogold could be approved in March (after the Chinese New Year and the Summer festivals) or May 2004, and any subsequent required financing in JQ04, which has resulted in the production estimate shown in the above figure from about mid-2004 for an attributable 51%. It should be noted that MIC does not have to have the SFJV signed in order to start exploration, from what we can see, a number of other Chinese exposed gold companies are not waiting.

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