"The history of Eureka lies in its future." - Lambert Molinelli, 1878


The author/editor of the Eureka Miner owns common shares of local mining stocks, General Moly (GMO) and Newmont Mining (NEM); together with benchmark miner Freeport-McMoRan (FCX). Please do your own research, markets can turn on you faster than a feral cat.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Part V, Giddy-Up Mail Service)

Henderson Road Turn-off, Kobeh Valley, Nevada


General Moly Announces Second Quarter 2013 Results (8/2/2013)
General Moly Announces Results of Annual Meeting (6/14/2013)
Mt. Hope construction continues despite financial issues (by Marianne Kobak McKown, Elko Daily Free Press, 5/31/2013)
General Moly Provides Finance Update (5/15/2013)

A very detailed General Moly briefing for investors on the status of Mt. Hope molybdenum project:

General Moly Investor Presentation

See earlier March 22 and March 29 reports for a full chronology of the $665 million Hanlong loan suspension.

Latest Nevada Gas Prices (click this link)

My latest Kitco commentary:  Copper & Gold - The Thin Red Line (08/12/2013)
Paintings by Mariana Titus, The Three Anas & The Three Moon Anas, are presently at Lafitte Guest House & Gallery, New Orleans

Friday's morning prices...

Below are the morning prices used for today's analysis:

COMEX Gold price = $1,363.4/oz (December contract most active)

COMEX Silver = $23.060/oz (September)
COMEX Copper = $3.3665/lb (September)
NYMEX WTI crude = $107.30/bbl (September)
ICE Brent crude = $109.85/bbl (September)

Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index© (GVI) = 83.70 (gold value is trading at a discount to oil and near fair value relative to copper)
Value Adjusted Gold Price© (VAGP) = $1,361.1/oz
COMEX - VAGP = $2.3/oz; gold is trading at a declining premium to key commodities.

General Moly (GMO) = $1.83 down 0.54%
Barrick Gold (ABX) = $19.36% down 2.27%
Newmont Mining (NEM) = $32.51 down 2.26%

Morning Miners!

Comex gold had its best week in nine months trading up this morning at $1,363.4 per ounce and briefly touching $1,374.3 earlier. It gained value relative to the U.S. dollar, U.S. equities and global commodities copper and oil. The escalating tensions in Egypt helped give the yellow metal a needed boost and seasonal buying in India and China is beginning. Unfortunately, the ole Colonel remains bearishly cautious fearing the cap for gold could be in the $1,410 area with the possibility of lower prices later this year.

Please checkout my input to the weekly Kitco News Gold Survey (below) and most recent Kitco News commentary for my latest thoughts on copper and gold,  Copper & Gold - The Thin Red Line (08/12/2013).

This morning we continue our summer story about Mt. Hope. The next installment (Part VI) will be posted Friday, August 30.

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Part V, Giddy-Up Mail Service) 

A multi-part series that circumnavigates the Mt. Hope molybdenum mine site on Eureka County back roads and highways.  Starting with the creation of molybdenum in the early universe, this journey will cover the geology of the area as well as its colorful history. There will be two trips, Loop#1 and #2, which include ranches of early settlers, a portion of the Pony Express Trail, a challenging section of the old Eureka-Palisade Railroad and a mine site tour. If you'd like to visit Mt. Hope, please make arrangements beforehand with Zach Spencer, General Moly's Director of Media Relations. Like any mine site, there are both security and safety concerns at Mt. Hope, but Zach and the Mt. Hope team do everything possible to accommodate public interest in their project. You can contact Zach by e-mail: zspencer@generalmoly.com

Mt. Hope Plumbing (Mile 12.5)

Last week, we took time to remember Ralph Roberts and John Livermore, the two geologists that started today's modern day gold rush in Northern Nevada (Part IV). As we told the tale, the alluvial dust of Roberts Creek Road filled the cab with the hood pointed pointed at Roberts Creek Mountain  (10,133 feet) with Mt. Hope to our right (8,411 feet).

The trip odometer is rolling 12 miles so slow down and take a peek at the Mt. Hope water works project. The newly graded extension to your right ambles towards Mt. Hope in the distance (above photo) and the large black pipes will some day bring water from the Kobeh Valley to the mine processing facility on the southeast face of the Mt. Hope mine site. Construction has stopped awaiting new financing for the mine but a lot of progress was made earlier this year.

Here's a nice view of Lone Mountain in the distance to give you a sense for how far we've traveled.

Roberts Creek Ranch (Mile 13.0)

In a few minutes we'll pass a turn-off to the right called Henderson Road or M-108A in your handy Atlas of Eureka County (Part II). We're coming back to this point but first let's go a few more miles on M-108 to Roberts Creek Ranch up ahead. At mile 13.0 there is a ranch sign and a caution to drive slowly. This is private property but if you obey the sign and respect the area you probably won't get any ventilating holes in your hat.

[Note: For future reference, a few miles beyond this sign  Roberts Creek Road joins Roberts Creek-Santa Fe Ranch Road (G-125). We'll take our Mt. Hope Loop #2 ranch tour later this summer on Three Bars Road (M-107); G-125 is the connecting link between our present loop and the longer loop#2.]

In 1859, Captain J.H. Simpson camped with his survey crew just up ahead at Roberts Creek. Then called by its Indian name Sheowite Creek, it flows with other waterways into the Kobeh Valley filling a vast underground aquifer. We learned last week that Captain Simpson discovered this area while trying to find a shorter route to California (Part IV) and that the Simpson Park Range to the west is named after this exploration. Here's the Captain's account in May of that year:

". . . She-o-wi-te Creek, a fine one, 4 feet wide, l foot deep and quite rapid. It sinks about 1 rnile below camp. Grass along it and on side-hills." (ref: XP Roberts Creek)

The good Captain talked with local Indians apparently concluding this was one of their camps.

Giddy-Up Mail Service - Roberts Creek Station

In the spring of 1860, this same location was the site of one of the original Pony Express stations. There is some controversy whether Bolivar Roberts' or Howard Egan's crew built the Roberts Creek Station but the the station, ranch, creek and surrounding mountains are all named for the former. Both men were key to implementing a crazy scheme to carry mail from St.Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California in just ten days. The Overland Pony Express would utilize relay stations spaced roughly 10 miles apart with fresh horses for brave riders carrying a small locked pouch of mail.

From April 3, 1860 to October 1861, it became the West's most direct means of east–west communication before the telegraph brought its demise. The brief history of the Pony Express was an important first step in tying the new state of California with the rest of the country. In these parts the Pony Express Trail roughly followed Captain Simpson's route from Sulphur Springs Station by Sadler-Brown Road (M-110), around the south base of Mt. Hope, to Roberts Creek Station and then on to a third station in Grubb Flat just north of Bean Flat which we discovered in Part IV. We'll pass through Grubb Flat on Loop #2.

Peter Damele, father of sons Pete and Tommy, recalled the old Pony Express station was a log structure, taken down by later owners of the Roberts Creek Ranch (ref: XP Roberts Creek). Pete and Tommy operate the Dry Creek and Ackerman Ranches in nearby Lander County. Filbert Etcheverry owned Roberts Creek which was handed down to his son Jimmy. We'll go into more of the rich history of ranches in this area on Loop #2.

Henderson Road Turn-off (Mile 14.4)

Heading back south on Roberts Creek Road, we return to the Henderson Road turnoff (M-108A) pictured in today's headline photo (Mile 14.4 counting the double-back from Roberts Creek, on Google Earth it's called Garden Pass Road). Going east from this point follows the Pony Express trail to the base of Mt. Hope.

Are you getting a little hungry for lunch? There's a nice offshoot from M-108A up ahead at mile 17.3. Just run up to the top of the bluff and there's a terrific view of where you've been and Mt. Hope up ahead.

Time for Lunch

To the south are more clearing and pipes for the mine site waterworks.

We'll pick up the tour in two weeks, happy trails til' then!

Molybdenum Prices

Spot moly oxide prices have stabilized at the $9 per pound-level. Here are the latest numbers compliments of moly benchmark miner  Thompson Creek (TC):

Metals Week Weekly Average: US$9.305 as of August 12, 2013 (updated weekly)

Ryan's Notes Average: US$9.275 as of August 13, 2013 (updated twice weekly)

The London Metal Exchange (LME) futures contracts remain above spot prices this week. Remember that this is a thinly traded futures market and contract prices reflect developments in Europe probably more than the global spot price averages above.

3-month seller's contract $20,600 per metric ton ($9.34 per pound)

15-month seller's contract $21,325 per metric ton ($9.67 per pound)

The Colonel's Gold, Silver & Copper Prices for Next Week

Here is my weekly input to the weekly Kitco Gold Survey:

Q. Where do you see gold’s price headed next week, up, down or unchanged?

A. Up. My target price is $1,375 per ounce.

Q. Why?

A. This week, gold dramatically reversed its ninth month of bearish value destruction relative to the U.S. dollar, U.S. equities and global commodities oil and copper (chart & tables below). Here is a list of technical accomplishments for the embattled yellow metal.

1.    Gold broke out of the Fibonacci retracement box (50%-61.8%) from June’s low ($1,179.4) to May’s high ($1,488.5) in morning trading touching $1,374.3 per ounce. Although prices have retreated slightly this is a typically a very bullish sign
2.    With conviction, gold broke out of its descending channel of doom relative to the S&P 500 (see chart) suggesting a bottom. Today, gold is up over 7% from its July 5 bottom (i.e. Au relative to the S&P500)
3.    Gold, cooper and oil are all up for the week in morning trading but most significantly, gold has gained value relative to the other two (first table)
4.    Gold is rapidly approaching its 100-day moving average at $1,382.6 per ounce, another bullish indication

The yellow metal regained some of its safe-haven allure from escalating problems in Egypt and the beginning of typically strong seasonal starting in India (Aug-Oct, Nov-Dec) through Chinese New Year (late-Jan).

So what could go wrong with this rosy state of affairs?

We are still in a period of low inflation expectations and rising interest rates, generally bearish for gold price. From my view, gold is trading at a discount to oil and near fair value to copper and has lost value to companion metal silver on the white metal’s robust rally. I believe the yellow metal will trade at a discount to a basket of all three commodities soon; this should cap further advances below $1,410 per ounce and may presage a return to lower prices later this year. Therefore, my target price for next week is just above the Fibonacci box but below the 100-day average.

For $1,375 per ounce gold we can expect to see silver in a statistically bounded range* of $19.7-$22.7 per ounce; and copper in a range of $3.18-$3.50 per pound. Silver is expected to have a positive bias with respect to a range mean of $21.163 per ounce; copper, a positive bias with respect to a mean of $3.3381 per pound.

The fact that silver trading exceeded its upper bound this morning suggests a price pullback next week.

(* +/- 2-standard deviations, 1-month basis)

The S&P 500 has struggled this week and has weakened relative to gold. The relation between the two is illustrated by a plot of the gold-to-S&P 500 ratio, or AUSP:

The ratio has been in a descending channel since mid-November with rotation of money away from gold assets into the U.S. stock market with gold losing 37% of value relative to equities from the November peak (AUSP=1.2710). Gold has now breached the channel.

This week, gold gained dollar price and value relative to copper and oil; oil lost value to copper. The chart below is a week-over-week valuation matrix (Read the chart as “1 unit of row A buys X units of column B”; for example,”1 ounce of gold buys 405.0 pounds of copper. Percentages are change from last Friday’s closing numbers):

Since last November, gold has experienced bearish value destruction not only in U.S. dollar terms but value relative to oil and copper.

As measured by the Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index (GVI, Ref 1), the value of gold relative to global commodities copper and oil and companion metal silver is 83.70, below the key-100 level and below the 1-month moving average of 86.87. The 2012 high was 103.73 on Nov. 13. 


Colonel Possum

Photos by Mariana Titus

Please checkout bayoutales.com for books and book orders

Paintings by Mariana Titus, The Three Anas, are presently at Lafitte Guest House & Gallery, New Orleans

Write Colonel Possum at colonelpossum@gmail.com for answers to your questions or to request e-mail updates on the market


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