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Weekly Ramblings of an Australian Stock Trader - incorporating
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Category — Resources

Why the Commodity ‘Supercycle’ Might Only be Halfway Done.

Why the Commodity ‘Supercycle’ Might Only be Halfway Done

What if I told you that mining boom hadn’t even got started yet?

…Or that commodity prices have another fifteen years to keep rallying?

It’d be music to the ears of resource investors who have had a tough few years.

It’s tough to imagine in this bearish environment, but this is exactly what we heard from an expert in an exciting new presentation with our buddy Dan Denning recently…

Phillip J Anderson, of, sat down in front of the cameras with Dan a couple of weeks ago. Most of the talk revolved around Phil’s theory on property cycles.

It’s a cracking interview. We haven’t been exactly bullish on Australian property here at Money Morning. But Phillip made an interesting bullish argument based on a predictable 18-year cycle.

He sees the US property market leading the Australian market by about a year and a half, and as US prices are starting to pick up slightly, he’s very bullish on Australian property. [Read more →]

May 3, 2013   Comments Off

Here’s Proof the Silver Bullion Market is Alive and Well.

Here’s Proof the Silver Bullion Market is Alive and Well

Buyers are viewing the current fall in the price of gold and silver as an opportunity to grab a bargain — not a time to panic.

Have you tried to buy some gold or silver bullion yourself?

You might find it’s not as easy as you thought. I recommend you go through one of the usual dealers to see what I mean (and get it a sensible price). Just be prepared for a wait. This note on the Ainslie Bullion site says it all:

‘We’d like to apologise to our customers at having to close our web store this afternoon. After the craziness last night we have been overwhelmed on the trading floor all day with buying at these prices. With a back log of internet orders as well we could not be confident of having stock to supply new orders and took the decision to close the website rather than sell something we couldn’t deliver. We hope to have it back up soon tonight after a stock take now trading has finished.’

As I say, I’d recommend buying from a dealer. But to see what happens when buyers and sellers meet directly on the free market, also check out [Read more →]

April 28, 2013   Comments Off

Why A PlayStation And Mining Technology Have More In Common Than You Think.

The global mining industry is in the midst of a remarkable shift toward complete automation through technology. It has similarities with the automobile industry and the changes they went through over the last 30 years.

For example, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s) are now performing geological surveys and investigating safety issues at mine sites and rigs. The US Geological Survey’s head of UAV Projects Mike Hutt compared the cost effectiveness of using UAV’s rather than manned aircraft. Hutt says that,‘It may cost $2,000 an hour to rent a helicopter…our costs for sending a couple of operators out with a system [UAV's] is under $200 an hour.’

If we look deep into central Brazil, VALE SA are constructing giant conveyor belts that start at their iron ore pit and go straight to the processing plant, eliminating the need for trucks all together. The whole operation monitored by a ‘Star Trek’ control room, satellites and sensors.

It’s not so farfetched to see the whole mining ‘pit-to-port’ process being run by a few operators (with degrees in Computer Gaming) and automated systems. It really is mining of the future.

My point? There’s a major shift happening right now to be smarter and better in the operation of mines across the globe. This shift is being driven by the need to lower costs. It’s also being driven by the growing demand for resources and the difficulty of extracting them from increasingly challenging places.

But at its core, this isn’t a mining story. It’s a technology story. Once you understand how technology drives progress – and has for all of human history – unlocking new investment opportunities becomes a lot easier, and a lot more exciting! [Read more →]

April 7, 2013   Comments Off

My Platinum Chat With Rick Rule.

I was chatting with Rick Rule last Friday. Rick is now part of Sprott Asset Management, one of the most respected natural resource investors around. Rick also had a ridiculously good long-term track record in managing money before joining Sprott.

Anyway, Rick has a new thesis he is hot on: platinum and palladium, or more broadly the platinum group metals (PGMs). I’ve learned when Rick gets hot on an idea, it is worth listening to him.

The thesis is simple, as most good ones tend to be…

The Law of Supply and Demand

‘What we discovered in about four weeks’ work,’ Rick told me, ‘is that the platinum and palladium mining industry as a whole does not earn its cost of capital. What that means is that either the price of platinum and palladium go up or there is less and less of it going forward.’

Another way to say it is that the platinum and palladium business, as is, doesn’t pay investors enough for the risks they take compared with alternatives. So it means people will not invest new dollars in the sector.

No new investment in mining means depletion of existing mines with no new sources of supply. Eventually, the price has to go up as rising demand (or flat demand) presses on a diminished supply.

What’s unique here is that platinum and palladium face particularly challenging supply constraints. [Read more →]

April 3, 2013   Comments Off

The Small Cap Miners Operating Deep in the West African Jungle.

The Small Cap Miners Operating Deep in the West African Jungle

Mining executives often like to describe their business as an exercise in earth moving. Maybe because they are not geologists they downplay the challenge of finding the stuff in the first place.

Instead they concentrate on the physical challenge and cost of digging it up, sorting the metal from the ore and taking it to the nearest railway line or shipping terminal.

Sometimes this process runs smoothly. In countries with established mining industries, with modern transport networks and power grids, mining is a simple business. But today’s miners are increasingly going where no miner has gone before, and they are finding that the necessary infrastructure does not exist.

One of the most exciting new mining regions is in West Africa, on the borders of Cameroon, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. Such is its wealth of iron ore that it has been called the new Pilbara – the rich iron ore region of Western Australia – but it is several hundred miles inland and unless a way can be found of getting the ore to the coast, commercial development will not be possible.

Why go to the trouble? Well, because of the potential for huge gains, of course. I’ll point to a few very attractive prospects today[Read more →]

April 1, 2013   Comments Off

Palladium is Going Higher as This ‘Secret’ Reserve Dries Up.

Palladium is Going Higher as This ‘Secret’ Reserve Dries Up

If you’re looking for a good commodities play, it’s time you know how to invest in palladium.

Palladium is a rare metal that’s part of a cluster called platinum group metals, or PGMs. It’s 15 times rarer than platinum, and 30 times rarer than gold.

Palladium trades 33% below its all-time high of US$1,125 an ounce, so there’s plenty of room for it to climb just to match that level. And palladium is about to become scarce…really scarce.

Why is Palladium so Popular?
Palladium is a widely used metal for everyday items like electronics and jewellery. About 12% of palladium ends up in virtually every kind of electronic device. Your smartphone, flat screen TV, computer, tablet, and DVD player all contain palladium. But by far the most important application for palladium is in the automotive industry.

Fully 67% of all the palladium used each year ends up in vehicles. Some of that is used for the electronics of cars and trucks, but mostly it’s used in emissions control equipment. If you’ve ever wondered why catalytic converters get stolen, it’s in large part because of their palladium content.

Some of these autocatalysts can cost up to $5,000 to replace. More importantly, it’s the growing demand for cars around the world that’s lighting a fire under palladium demand. So much so that supply is simply unable to keep up. In 2011, there were 77 million light vehicles sold worldwide. Last year saw sales of 81 million, and this year is expected to reach 85 million. [Read more →]

February 27, 2013   Comments Off

The Two-Dimensional Diamond That’s Set to Turn Your World Upside Down.

The Two-Dimensional Diamond That’s Set to Turn Your World Upside Down

The Two-Dimensional Diamond That’s Set to Turn Your World Upside Down

Here are a few Monday riddles for you:

What space-age material is two hundred times stronger than structural steel?

What conducts electricity so insanely quickly that researchers at IBM see ‘no intrinsic limits into how fast it can go’?

And which new substance is the subject of three thousand new research projects, and has just been given a one billion Euro research investment from the European Commission?

Amazingly, the answer is the same for all three questions…

I’m talking about graphene.
This is the brand new material that the world of science is salivating over.

Graphene is completely revolutionising the world of material science, even more than the arrival of plastics did last century. The unparalleled strength and conductivity of graphene make the possibilities so much more tantalising than plastics ever could have.

If this is the first you’ve heard of it, let me explain… [Read more →]

February 20, 2013   Comments Off

Platinum is Set to Rise – Here’s the Best Way to Profit.

Platinum is Set to Rise – Here’s the Best Way to Profit

What’s the most precious metal – gold or platinum?

Ask most people, and they’ll say the answer’s obvious – platinum is the more valuable metal, hands down.

But in recent years, the answer hasn’t been at all clear cut. The price of platinum has regularly dipped below that of gold, sometimes substantially. Even now, gold and platinum are trading at roughly the same price.

This is an unusual situation. And we suspect it won’t last. Here’s why… [Read more →]

February 5, 2013   Comments Off

Hey, Give The Mining Guys a Break.

Hey, Give The Mining Guys a Break

‘China has set its initial target for economic growth at 7.5 percent for a second year and tightened its inflation goal to the lowest level since 2010…’ – Bloomberg News

The Chinese government must be the world’s best economic forecasters. They set a target and whadda-ya-know, they get it almost spot on. Today’s Age reports:

‘The December quarter GDP growth rate of 7.9 per cent was faster than expected and up from 7.4 per cent in the September quarter, which was a three-year low.’

Perhaps this boost from the previous quarter explains the sharp iron ore price rise (see chart in today’s other article Money Weekend Market Digest ). The price had almost doubled since last September’s low. But after hitting a new high last week, the price has hit a snag.

What does it mean? Has China done all of its iron ore buying for the year? If so, why has it stopped? Has China’s stimulus program already stopped? We know, that’s too many questions. And unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers. But we can shed some light on the risk and reward o fresources investing[Read more →]

January 22, 2013   Comments Off

Why Coking Coal Could Out Perform Iron Ore.

coal burning lge

In the last twelve months, the iron ore price has been up and down like a five-year old on red cordial.

First it plummeted from $150/tonne last April, to $89/tonne by August – a 40% drop in just four months.

That’s a savage correction.

But then the bounce of all bounces followed

In the four months since the correction finished, the iron ore price has now jumped 74%, to reach $155 /tonne.

Not only has it recovered all the lost ground from last year, but it now sits at a 15-month high. Giddy stuff indeed; and now Deutsche Bank analysts expect iron ore to hit $170 within weeks. [Read more →]

January 17, 2013   Comments Off