"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 9, 2013

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Part IV, Giants in Our Land)

Mt. Hope Loop #1, 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:  Oil, Copper & $1,100 Gold - The Seven Year Itch (07/22/2013)

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 = $1,307.7/oz (December contract most active)

COMEX Silver = $20.270/oz (September)
COMEX Copper = $3.3060/lb (September)
NYMEX WTI crude = $104.52 (September)
ICE Brent crude = $106.90/bbl (September)

Eureka Miner’s Gold Value Index© (GVI) = 85.45 (gold value is trading at a discount to oil and near fair value relative to copper)
Value Adjusted Gold Price© (VAGP) = $1,278.7/oz
COMEX - VAGP = $29.0/oz; gold is trading at a declining premium to key commodities.

General Moly (GMO) = $1.77 up 2.91%
Barrick Gold (ABX) = $17.63 up 3.07%
Newmont Mining (NEM) = $29.28 up 1.74%

Morning Miners!

Gold had another volatile week with a drop below the $1,300-level plunging to an intraday low of $1,271.8 per ounce Wednesday. The yellow metal is back up to $1,307.1 this morning but down again for the week joining the pooches on the porch as they laze through the dog days of summer.  Fortunately, the Big Dogs are enjoying a 2-day rally as both Barrick Gold (ABX) and Newmont Mining (NEM) are on their way to being positive for the week (ABX $17.63, NEM $29.28).

Please checkout my input to the weekly Kitco News Gold Survey (below) and most recent Kitco News commentary for my latest thoughts on gold, Oil, Copper & $1,100 Gold - The Seven Year Itch.

This morning we continue our summer story about Mt. Hope...

Mt. Hope - A Journey in Space and Time (Part IV, Giants in Our Land)

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

The Bermuda Triangle of Eureka County

Last week, we stopped at the cattle guard by the Roberts Creek Road turnoff from HWY 50 and set our trip odometer to 0.0. Ahead are 26 miles of well-maintained County roads as we travel to the north side of Mt. Hope on Loop #1. Find the starting point in your Atlas of Eureka County and note that Roberts Creek Road is County M-108 (Page M-4, we picked up our Atlas in Part II).

If you are traveling a virtual Loop #1 on 3-D Google Earth, fly above Lone Mountain and checkout how its dominating circular base separates the Kobeh Valley to the north, Antelope Valley to the south-west and Bean Flat to the west.  My neighbor Eric Pastorino once told me that Bean Flat was the "Bermuda Triangle" of Eureka County. As the story goes many strange things happen out this way, not the least of which is the disappearance of vehicles in the fine alluvial springtime mud.

From the Google eye, you can see why this is so. Erosion from the nearby ranges has created alluvial fans or cone-shaped deposits of sediment crossed and built up by streams. There is pinwheel of flow around Lone Mountain and adjacent ranges that forms a wide dragon-like tongue of tourist-absorbing alluvium extending across Bean Flat into Lander County to the west. Look for ground-level luggage racks during dry season! (Checkout this image if you don’t have Google Earth).

On a more serious note, Northern Nevada’s alluvial basins are as important as its many mountain ranges. Underneath these valleys of sagebrush are aquifers that provide water for humans, livestock and agriculture. From your Google eye perch above Lone Mountain, you can see the many irrigation pivots in Diamond Valley to the east that produce some of the world’s best alfalfa. This mineral-rich product is the prize of horse race tracks on either coast.

The Battle-Mountain-Eureka and Carlin Trends

Back in the truck we’re ingesting some of that fine alluvial soil as we barrel down M-108 (this is called “drag-to-street view” for the Google Earth travelers). If it’s any consolation, some part of that billowing dust is hundreds of millions of year’s old, sediment from the Paleozoic wonderland discovered in Part III. In fact, this is ground zero of the “Big Car Crash” that helped build the mountains around us and create the unique geological foundations for the modern day production of many millions of ounces of gold.

Last week we learned that during the Devonian to Early Mississippian time, the Antler volcanic island arc terrane crashed into the western margins of the continent (as it existed then) in a series of collisions. These brought deep water deposits of shale, volcanic rocks and chert (from the west) atop shallow water carbonate shelf deposits (from the east). The collision zone outside our window is characterized by a geological alignment called the Battle Mountain-Eureka Trend; another further north and to the west of Elko, Nevada is called the Carlin Trend. Both are illustrated in a map from the Midway Gold website as orange-shaded areas:

The Midway Gold Pan Project in White Pine County, which begins mine construction next year, is shown by the big yellow star south-east of the Eureka town site. North America’s largest gold mines are in the central and more northern portion of these regions. 

On the Midway map, we're just a tad north-west of Eureka. With Lone Mountain now in the rear view mirror, we see the Simpson Park Range to our left named after Captain James H. Simpson who led a survey party through these parts to find a shorter route to California than the route along the Humboldt River to the north.

Almost directly ahead is Roberts Creek Mountain (10,133 feet) in the Roberts Mountains. The Roberts Range is named for Bolivar Roberts, a Division Superintendent of the Central Overland Pony Express. The Pony Express Trail followed much of Captain Simpson's route. We'll travel a portion of this trail and learn more about these two gentlemen in later episodes. Today's trek is about a different Roberts who was one of the first to examine these great tectonic collisions of yore.

Accident Scene Investigators

American geologist Ralph J. Roberts (1911–2007)  is credited for first defining the ancient mountain-building episode called the Antler Orogeny. He identified the trends illustrated in the Midway map without the benefit of what is now accepted as plate tectonics and terranes. In 1960, Roberts published Alignment of Mining Districts in North-Central Nevada that predicted the existence of important mineral-bearing rocks in Nevada and set the stage for a modern day gold rush.

Guided by Ralph Roberts’ ideas, geologist John Livermore (1918-2013) became the accident scene investigator that tied all the pieces together. With fellow Newmont Mining geologist Alan Cooper, they discovered Carlin–type gold deposits characterized by extremely fine-grained gold — gold that cannot be seen by the naked eye. That discovery lead to a 4 million ounce gold ore body now known as the Carlin Mine. The entire Carlin Trend has produced more than 50 million ounces of gold.

The Summer 2013 Mining Quarterly did a terrific memorial series on John Livermore. If you don't have a hard copy handy, you can access the online version with this link:


When the cover appears there is a ">" arrow to the right that allows you to page through the edition. "Remembering a Legend" by Mining Editor Marianne Kobak McKown is on page 44. There is also a reprint article by Adella Harding, "A Glimpse of the Past," from Nov. 16, 2003 on page 50.

A respected local geologist and friend of the Eureka Miner submitted this memory of John Livermore which is particularly interesting because it ties to the nearby Ruby Hill Mine:

I met John Livermore, and can tell you that he was every bit as impressive in person as his reputation suggests.  He was a big, tall man, friendly, open, smart,and modest.  I gave him a tour at Archimedes/Ruby Hill back in the mid-late 90's, I think.  He had to have been in his 70's then, but was still just as smart as a tack, still curious about his line of work, and still looking at rocks.

He wanted to see Ruby Hill because he had worked there for Newmont in the early 60's (they were looking for carbonate replacement deposits such as were mined in the old days) before the big Carlin discovery (in fact, he left Eureka for the Carlin job), and when he later read about our (Homestake's) discovery of Carlin-type (microscopic) gold at Eureka, he wanted to see if it was true.  We spent the better part of an afternoon up at the Fad shaft and on the ground, looking at maps and core and visiting the Fad buildings and just talking.

That tour with him at a time when we were just about to go into production is one of my better recollections from my Ruby Hill days.

Of course, you know that John was from pioneer stock from the early days of California.  I was sorry to read his obituary…, but I'd say he had a wonderful, long, and successful ride.

Hats off to all those that pay tribute to both of these two giants in our land.

Still lots of straight road ahead, we'll check out the Mt. Hope waterworks and the Pony Express Trail next Friday. 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$9.335 as of August 5, 2013 (updated weekly)

Ryan's Notes Average: US$9.275 as of August 6, 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 $21,340 per metric ton ($9.68 per pound)

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

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

08/02/2013 (10:24 AM CT)

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

A. Down. My target price is $1,295 per ounce.

Q. Why?

A. Gold is in 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). In this light, the yellow metal’s return to $1,300 territory from Wednesday’s low ($1,281.2) is hardly impressive.

The debate on tapering of U.S. bond buying affects gold price volatility but more troubling is the continued erosion of its value relative to equities and key commodities. This is likely to continue given a backdrop of global monetary easing – even with eventual tapering by the U.S.

Copper is a good example this week as it rallied strongly on better-than-expected economic data from China outpacing the yellow metal’s recovery from sub-$1,300-levels. The net result is gold’s greater than 4% loss of value to the red metal on a weekly basis.

I continue to be bearish on the near term prospects for gold although the summer doldrums will likely preclude any serious price declines. The longer term prospects remain positive as inflation expectations rise (someday).

My gold price target of $1,295 per ounce is a negative bias below the mean of July’s high ($1,349.2) and August’s low ($1,278.7).

For $1,295 per ounce gold we can expect to see silver in a statistically bounded range* of $19.5-$20.7 per ounce; and copper in a range of $3.10-$3.40 per pound. Silver is expected to have a neutral bias with respect to a range mean of $20.142 per ounce; copper, a positive bias with respect to a mean of $3.2501 per pound.

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

The S&P 500 has retreated from its all-time record last week but still maintains strength 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 39% of value relative to equities from the November peak (AUSP=1.2710). Although gold has made some progress relative to the S&P 500 since the July low, the channel remains intact.

This week, gold lost dollar price and value relative to copper but gained some relative to 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 395.6 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.

There is a danger that gold may re-enter $1,100 territory as explained in my July 22 Kitco commentary. Although I remain long-term bullish on gold:
Gold will test June's low ($1,179.4) before breaking May's high ($1,488.5).

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 85.45, below the key-100 level and below the 1-month moving average of 87.19. 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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