As the world starts to emerge from the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis, the implications for the unprecedented monetary stimulus measures employed by Governments around the globe to support citizens in lockdown are becoming ever clearer.
As stock markets roar back from the coronavirus-led rout, advisers to the world’s wealthy are urging them to hold more gold, questioning the strength of the rally and the long-term impact of global central banks’ cash splurge, Reuters writers commented.
In a note for Kitco News, Allen Sykora noted Gold had started a new week on firmer footing amid worries about the rising number of COVID-19 cases. “The price of gold jumped to its highest in more than a month this morning ($1,757), after surging coronavirus cases heightened concerns over a delay in global economic recovery,” said a research note from commodities brokerage SP Angel. Analysts cited news reports showing that while social distancing in March and April slowed the spread of the virus, reopening in a number of U.S. states and European nations has coincided with a new wave of infections.
Commerzbank believes the U.S. economic recovery is “hanging in the balance” with a likelihood of “increasing calls for the U.S. government to implement further stimulus measures, especially as [Federal Reserve Chair Jerome] Powell had already called for more fiscal stimulus during his virtual testimony before the U.S. Congress last week,” Commerzbank also believes the U.S. Fed is “likely to keep the pedal to the metal – i.e. to expand its balance sheet”… and thus the issue of currency debasement/inflation ..”will remain high in the minds of market participants.”
Geologists speculating with fees for professional services
This ‘pedal to the metal’ approach to monetary easing and the conseqential strength in gold continues to drive investor interest in junior gold explorers. Increasingly this sector is seeing mining geologists taking fees for their work in shares as well as cash, as armed with knowledge and experience, a successful drilling campaign can have a transformational effect the valuations of small cap explorers with quality projects, meaning that professional fees can potentially multiply in value. The majority of small mining companies however only have one or two key projects in their asset portfolio, so micro-cap explorers that own a broad spread of assets are particularly sought after.
AIM listed ECR Minerals (AIM: ECR) is firmly in the latter category. The company 100% owns the Bailieston and Creswick projects in Central Victoria, Australia, and also has financial interests in the Avoca, Moormbool and Timor projects following the sale of those licenses, detailed below. In addition ECR has earned a 25% interest in the Danglay epithermal gold project in the north of the Philippinesand and holds a net smelter royalty on the SLM gold project in Argentina.
Creswick has long been viewed as a potential pivot project for ECR after the highest grade duplicate result of 80.97 g/t gold came from a 1 metre interval that originally assayed 44.63 g/t, confirming the original findings announced on 8 May 2019. Referred to by ECR as ‘nuggety gold mineralisation’, a study by pre-eminent consulting geochemist Dr Dennis Arne, whose experience includes extensive consultancy at the highly successful Fosterville gold mine in Central Victoria, underlined the significant gold exploration potential at Creswick
Bailieston is also at the centre of the current gold exploration boom in Victoria, located close to the highly successful Fosterville mine owned by Kirkland Lake Gold. The project potential was underlined by the arrival of mining giant Newmont Exploration with a license application for ground immediately to the north of ECR’s Black Cat prospect. The Fosterville mine is located approximately 50km west of the Bailieston project.
Flagship Projects Set to Deliver Value
The focus on Creswick and Bailieston prompted the board decision in April 2020 to sell three further Victoria licences (the Avoca, Moormbool and Timor gold exploration projects) to TSX-V listed Fosterville South Exploration Ltd for an upfront cash payment of A$500,000, plus additional potential of a further A$2 million based on resource estimates and gold production.
This, added to the two recent R&D cash refunds and the GB£500,000 placing at 0.5p mean that ECR are fully funded and ready to spend on further developing the two flagship assets.
And with external parties currently reviewing data on the Bailieston and Creswick gold projects with a view to potential commercial transactions and joint venture opportunities, the ECR board believes that both projects “hold considerable potential and inherent value for the Company.”
Currently valued at just GB£3.9m, there are great expectations for ECR in the coming months despite the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 lockdown. Given the compelling backdrop in the Gold market and the ‘pedal to the metal’approach to monetary easing by Governments around the world, ECR shareholders could be set for a bonanza if Creswick and Bailieston come good.