[Editor's note: MINING.com is a division of InfoMine. Dr. Andy Robertson is president and CEO of InfoMine.]
The softening metal market is opening up big opportunities for gold and silver miners who now have chance to renegotiate deals with contractors, personnel and suppliers, says Dr. Andy Robertson, president and CEO of InfoMine and a technical consultant to many large miners.
Robertson told MINING.com (video is embedded below) that base metal prices for zinc, nickel and molybdenum are way down, which is creating an opportunity for precious metal producers as demand for services fall.
"[There] is this concern that there is this over supply . . . and purchasers are using this as an opportunity to get re-pricing that is favourable to them, so there is a lot of maneuvering that is happening in some of these markets."
Not all base metals are doing poorly. Robertson notes copper has held steady.
"Copper has softened but not to the extent that causes much distress. It's nice and stable. It's behaved in a very slow-moving fashion."
In conversations with large miners, Robertson observes that new projects are being put on hold but existing mines are ramping up production to increase revenues.
"When it comes to operating mines, there are those that are cranking up because we've got to get our volumes up, because we've got to get our incomes working. So some of them are pushing quite hard at mine optimization and improvements."
From his vantage point at InfoMine that operates a career services section for miners, Robertson has seen the effect of the tough junior market.
On Friday the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index closed at 1,220.90, just above its 52-week low of 1,153.900.
"Right now we are seeing a lot of resumes coming in from exploration geologists," says Robertson.
"There is a loyalty improvement, which is great for the industry."
Chart from the TSX Group