Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Sales of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Break 2014 Record

Sales of American Eagle Silver Bullion Coin Break 2014 Record

Sales of American Eagle silver bullion coins by the U.S. Mint on Nov. 30 helped the bureau establish a new record, with two and a half weeks worth of sales remaining to add to the count.
The sale Nov. 30 of 737,000 coins out of 920,500 allocated to authorized purchasers for the week beginning Nov. 30 raised cumulative 2015 sales totals to 44,666,500, or 660,500 coins beyond the record 44,006,000 set for calendar year 2014.
The authorized purchasers' Nov. 30 sales left 183,500 coins to fill orders for the remainder of the week ending Dec. 4.
U.S. Mint officials notified  authorized purchasers Nov. 24 that the West Point Mint would continue to strike 2015 American Eagle 1-ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins through Dec. 7, with Dec. 14 likely being the last allocation date.
The U.S. Mint expects to begin taking orders for 2016 American Eagle silver bullion coins beginning Jan. 11.
January is the highest sales month for calendar-year 2015, with 5.53 million coins sold, followed by July with 5,529,000 coins. Additional monthly sales totals likely could have surpassed those two highs had sales not been under weekly restrictions because of the Mint's difficulty in acquiring sufficient planchets on which to strike the bullion coins.
The American Eagle silver bullion coins are not sold directly to the public. Instead, the coins are sold to a network of authorized purchasers who offer a two-way market for the coins. Orders are placed based on the closing London PM spot price per troy ounce plus a $2 premium per coin. The coins are then sold at a mark-up to other dealers, collectors and investors.
Sales of the American Eagle silver bullion coins to the authorized purchasers have been on weekly allocation for most of 2015 because of planchet shortages.
Tags: American Eagle Silver, ase silver, silver coins, galeforcesales, galeforcesales silver, silver news, silver coin news, silver bullion, silver bullion news

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Reverse of coin is completely tone free being original lustrous silver


1996 1oz Silver 999 Kangaroo Carded Bullion Coin from the Royal Australian Mint

This coin is completely golden toned on the obverse .. see image.

Coin itself looks to be beautiful uncirculated, 

Toning is 100% natural and has happened due to it not being in its original plastic sleeve in storage.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

2016 Australia Lunar Monkey Silver Bullion Coin

This Silver coin celebrates the ninth animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac. In Chinese culture, those who are born under the influence of this sign are said to be intelligent, quick-witted, optimistic, ambitious and adventurous.
The 2016 Silver Lunar Year of the Monkey coin features an adult monkey sitting on a branch of a peach tree, which is symbolic of lovevity and immortality.
The Australian Lunar Monkey silver coin is available in the following weights:
1/2oz, 1oz, 2oz, 5oz, 10oz and 1kg
2016 Silver Lunar Monkey available in 1/2oz, 1oz, 2oz, 5oz, 10oz and 1kg

2016 Silver Lunar Monkey available in 1/2oz, 1oz, 2oz, 5oz, 10oz and 1kg
The Chinese character for ‘Monkey’ and the inscription ‘Year of the Monkey’ also appears in the design with The Perth Mint’s ‘P’ mintmark..
The coin’s obverse depicts Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the year-date, weight, fineness and the monetary denomination.
About the Design:
A pattern of lines forming a circle immediately inside the rim, surrounding a representation of an adult monkey and a young monkey holding a peach, sitting on a branch with leafy foliage and a peach to the side.
The coin includes the following inscriptions ‘Year of the Monkey’, the Pinyin pictograph pronounce ‘hóu’ and meaning monkey and the initials of the designer Ing Ing Jong ‘IJ’.
monkey, silver monkey, lunar monkey, perth mint monkey, bullion monkey, silver australia silver, silver coins, silver bullion

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Chinese Nickel Imports Jump to 6-Year High as Shortage Looms

Chinese Nickel Imports Jump to 6-Year High as Shortage Looms

China imported the most refined nickel in six years in a further sign that the world’s biggest consumer is drawing on global supply. Futures rose 2.4 percent in London.

Inbound shipments of the metal used to produce stainless steel surged 67 percent to 38,545 tons in June from the previous month, the highest since July 2009, and were more than three times the level a year earlier, Chinese customs data show.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. are bullish on prices amid prospects for rising Chinese demand. Macquarie Group Ltd. sees a global shortage which may cut inventories further from a record. Stockpiles in London Metal Exchange sheds have already fallen to the lowest in almost two months. Some imports may have been for delivery against the first nickel contract to expire on the Shanghai bourse, said Celia Wang from Tianjin Zhongwei Group’s investment department.

“Huge imports arrived in China from LME warehouses as traders seek profits by delivering against the first settlement of a Shanghai nickel futures contract,” said Wang, the general manager. “Refined nickel imports are expected to remain at a high level into July.”

The Shanghai Futures Exchange started nickel trading in March and the July contract was the first expiry. The bourse is accepting metal from Moscow-based OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the top supplier, for settlement to ease concern about shortages.
Goldman, Citigroup

Prices climbed 2.4 percent to $11,980 a ton in London on Tuesday, the highest level since July 6, before trading at $11,875. Goldman expects rates to increase to $14,000 as the market heads toward a deficit next year, analysts including Yubin Fu wrote in a report dated July 6. Citigroup predicts a 2015 average price of $13,960 and maintains a bullish outlook.

Imports of ferronickel rose more than threefold on year to 62,511 tons, another sign China is seeking foreign supply.

An Indonesian ban on exports of nickel ore at the start of 2014 spurred China to stockpile the material and boost supplies from the Philippines, the only other major source. Inventories of nickel ore in China are now at their lowest since September 2011, according to data from Beijing Custeel E-Commerce Co.

China imported more than 100,000 tons of refined nickel in the first half for the first time since 2009 when buyers took advantage of a slump in demand after the financial crisis.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

New Engelhard Australia Silver Bullion Bars

Engelhard Australia is back! This historic brand is once again producing investment bullion bars. Engelhard silver bars are attractively cast with the modern Engelhard Australia logo on the front, and the weight and fineness on the back.

Every bar is Every bar is serialised and individually boxed in a protective cardboard shipper for protection.
These bars are available in 5oz & 10oz
New Engelhard, engelhard Australia, australia Silver, silver Bullion, bullion Bars
- See more at: http://australiasilver.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/new-engelhard-australia-silver-bullion.html#sthash.klqHJxNR.dpuf

New Engelhard Australia Silver Bullion Bars

Engelhard Australia is back! This historic brand is once again producing investment bullion bars. Engelhard silver bars are attractively cast with the modern Engelhard Australia logo on the front, and the weight and fineness on the back.

Every bar is Every bar is serialised and individually boxed in a protective cardboard shipper for protection.
These bars are available in 5oz & 10oz
New Engelhard, engelhard Australia, australia Silver, silver Bullion, bullion Bars
- See more at: http://australiasilver.blogspot.com.au/2015/07/new-engelhard-australia-silver-bullion.html#sthash.klqHJxNR.dpuf

Monday, July 13, 2015

Perth Mint Gold and Silver Bullion Sales Jump in June

Demand for Australian bullion coins surged in June, the latest Perth Mint figures show. Gold sales scored their highest level since March and silver sales moved the quickest since April. Bullion sales did retreat from a year earlier, however.

Perth Mint sales of gold coins and gold bars advanced 31,019 ounces last month, rallying 43.1% from the 21,671 ounces sold in May but down 21.3% from the 39,405 ounces delivered in June 2014. Gold sales through the first half of the year tally to 168,650 ounces, off 30% from last year’s starting six-month total of 240,991 ounces.

Perth Mint silver coins at 384,586 ounces in June jumped 13.9% from the prior month’s 337,511 ounces yet slipped 34.4% from sales of 586,358 ounces in June of last year. For the first half of 2015, silver sales combine to 2,810,994 ounces for a drop of 18% from the same six-month start in 2014 when sales reached 3,428,336 ounces.

Perth Mint Gold and Silver Sales by Month

Below is a monthly breakdown of Perth Mint bullion sales from June 2014 to June 2015.

Perth Mint Bullion Sales (in troy ounces)
June 2015384,58631,019
May 2015337,51121,671
April 2015472,27326,545
March 2015638,55734,260
February 2015392,11431,981
January 2015585,95323,174
December 2014477,73140,211
November 2014851,83649,904
October 2014655,88155,350
September 2014756,83968,781
August 2014818,85636,369
July 2014577,98825,103
June 2014586,35839,405

United States Mint Bullion Sales in June

U.S. Mint bullion sales in June soared over the prior month and the year ago levels. The agency’s core American Gold Eagles at 76,000 ounces leapt 253.5% higher than May sales and jumped 56.7% higher than sales in June 2014. Its flagship American Silver Eagles at 4,840,000 ounces in June surged 139.2% from the prior month and rallied 79.8% from a year ago.

Pacfico Minerals Surges on Copper Hits

Core from Coppermine Creek

Three holes drilled at the Coppermine Creek prospect intersected significant intervals of disseminated chalcopyrite and bands of semi-massive chalcopyrite.

One of the holes returned veins and disseminated chalcopyrite from 38-67m, with the interval from 67-73m corresponding to the Gordons Fault and containing bands of semi-massive chalcopyrite, as well as chalcopyrite fracture fill and disseminations.

The company said the chalcopyrite was associated with only minor pyrite and returned values of more than 25% using a hand-held XRF over widths of up to 30cm.

Assays are expected within a fortnight.

Airborne electromagnetics indicate a 3km by 1km alteration and mineralisation system extending away from the Gordons Fault to the southwest, with further drilling planned to test it.

Pacifico has also started drilling the Bing Bong prospect with the assistance of a NT government grant.

Borroloola West was one of the projects Sandfire floated on in 2004 but the company farmed it out to Pacifico in 2013.

Pacifico expects to earn 51% of the project by the end of the year by spending $A1.5 million under the first phase of the agreement.

The company can earn an additional 19% by spending a further $2.5 million and can get to 80% by sole-funding a bankable feasibility study or spending another $3 million.

Shares in Pacifico jumped 130% to 3.2c, while Sandfire shares gained 1.4% to $5.71

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Shanghai Stock Market Crash and China Gold Demand

What Does it mean for the future of the gold market?

At present, up to 12 trillion yuan stays in domestic residents' saving accounts. The launch of individual gold investment, therefore, will allow residents to change currency assets into gold assets. At the macro level, it will expand channels for changing savings into investment, thus adjusting the money supply; in the micro aspect, allowing citizens to trade and keep gold can improve social welfare, benefiting both the country and the population.

Moreover, with the dual attributes of common commodity and currency commodity, gold is a desirable instrument for hedging. Therefore, developing gold trade for individuals is practical." – Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor, the People's Bank of China.

Shanghai stocks have fallen over 30% since mid-June. The equivalent in U.S. terms would be for the DJIA to fall 6000 points to the 11,000 level – a crash by any definition. Most of the commentary on this important subject has centered around the potential contagion effect for stock markets in the rest of Asia and beyond. There is another aspect to the crash worth considering though, and that has to do with the effect it will have on Chinese gold demand.

The Chinese people, it is well known, already have a cultural affinity to gold. That attachment just received a shot of adrenaline. Prior to June, trading volumes on the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) were already running 20% higher than the previous year. Now, with crash psychology affecting thinking up and down the spectrum of investors, SGE is reporting volumes off the charts. In early July, Want China Times reported that "SGE posted a record trading volume of 48.33 million grams in a single day in late June." (48.3 metric tonnes, a big number.)

Typically stock market crashes inspire gold demand. In the case of China, where the government and central bank encourage citizen gold ownership as a matter of public policy, that lesson could become enshrined in the national psyche. The important consideration for investors elsewhere around the globe is what effect even stronger gold demand from China will have on the gold price both now and in the future.

Flow of physical metal between buyers and sellers will govern prices in China not paper trades

Ever since 2011 when China's demand began to ratchet up, clients have asked how the price of gold could be stagnant to down under the circumstances. The short answer to that question is that price discovery for gold does not occur in the physical market, but in the multi-trillion dollar leveraged paper trade in London and New York – a volume that dwarfs the physical delivery market. Now China is about to challenge that price discovery mechanism through significant infrastructure changes slated to take effect by the end of the year.

This new construct has as its base China's fundamental understanding and goals with respect to gold as summarized by Peoples Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan in our masthead quote above; its affinity for delivered physical ownership, as opposed to paper-based metal; and, the official measures it has undertaken to make inroads into the international gold market's price discovery mechanism.

To gain a better understanding of how China is likely to affect price discovery in the gold market, let's start with something of interest that surfaced as a result of the recent Shanghai crash. Financial Times reported rumors floating the markets that Goldman Sachs was responsible for manipulating stocks downward. Officials denied those rumors and a spokesman for the exchange stated that "foreign investors with access to the futures market via theQualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) program were only permitted to use futures for hedging operations and are not allowed to make directional bets. 

All recent trades by QFIIs complied with regulations." Of course if any manipulation of stocks were to occur, it would be executed in the leveraged futures market where bets can be placed at pennies on the dollar.

Up until I read that quote I was unaware of the strict procedures governing foreign trading on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE), China's only futures trading venue. A further investigation, helped along with some links from Koos Jansen, the Netherlands based expert on China's burgeoning gold market, revealed stringent rules governing trade on the SHFE for domestic participants as well, though not quite as stringent as the rules for foreigners. 

At the heart of those rules, SHFE imposes strict position limitations and margin requirements on traders in order to keep price speculation (or directional bets to use its term) to a minimum. Futures trading in China, clearly is meant to serve as an adjunct to the physical market instead of the other way around as it is in western gold trading centers. 

Hedging is maximized. Speculation is minimized. Leverage is controlled within reasonable parameters.

2015 Guy Harvey The Old Man and the Sea 10 oz 999 silver bar

Introducing the 2015 Guy Harvey "The Old Man and the Sea" 10 oz silver bar.

Famed marine artist and photographer Guy Harvey© has brought his artwork to a new medium - silver! Harvey was working on his PhD in marine biology when his one-man exhibition of sketches based on "The Old Man and the Sea" propelled him to international attention in 1985.

Captivated by Hemingway's timeless story, the Jamaican native returns to the subject with this scene of the old man Santiago battling the blue marlin. The front of this .999 fine silver bar depicts Santiago standing in his rowboat as the majestic blue marlin catapults into the air near him. The back features another Guy Harvey© design, of an antique Spanish map of Florida.

Both sides contain the Guy Harvey© logo, while the front includes the title "The Old Man and The Sea" and the weight and purity of 10 oz .999 fine silver.

This is a silver bar like no other, authorized by Guy Harvey© himself. Bring home this treasure for yourself, a Hemingway fan, or a lover of marine artwork. The Guy Harvey© "The Old Man and The Sea" 10 oz silver bar is sure to stand out!

As Silver Prices Fall, U.S. Mint’s Silver Bullion Coins Sell Out

Investors still like silver—so much so that the U.S. Mint sold out of its American Eagle Silver Bullion Coins.

The Mint announced the temporary sellout on Tuesday. It said that the U.S. Mint facility at West Point, N.Y., continues to produce the coins and resumption of sales is expected in about two weeks.

The shortages comes at a time when silver futures prices SIU5, +1.49% are falling.On Tuesday, they sank 5% to $14.969 an ounce, the lowest settlement for a most-active contract since 2009. They recovered a bit on Wednesday, though year to date prices have lost more than 3%.

“Silver demand has really come back in the last two weeks, on the break below $16 per ounce,” Adrian Ash, head of research at BullionVault, told MarketWatch.

BullionVault’s Silver Investor Index released Tuesday rose to 56.7 in June from below 50 in May, as the number of private investors buying silver climbed to its highest level in 9 months, while the number of sellers fell to its lowest level in 3 years. The index shows the balance of net buyers over net sellers.

In a note Wednesday, Capital Economics’s Julian Jessop, pointed out that silver has been a “notable casualty of the selloff in commodity markets in the last few days.”

That usually happens when prices of other metals, especially gold but also industrials, are falling, he said. But “assuming metals in general recovery over the remainder of the year, as we expect, silver could now be set to shine.”

Monday, June 29, 2015

Silver Prices About to Hit $50.00 Per Ounce?

Silver is one of the most under appreciated commodities around. Back in 2011, an ounce of gold was worth 32 ounces of silver. Today, that same ounce of gold translates to 74 ounces of the grey metal. Does that mean gold has gotten more valuable or that silver has gotten cheaper?

Since its peak a few years ago, silver prices have dropped nearly 70%. Gold prices have also fallen by an astonishing 35% during the same period, which convinces me that investors got overly pessimistic about silver during the pullback.

So, what should the true price of silver be?

In order to properly value silver, we need the silver-to-gold ratio. Historically, silver shadows the movement of gold prices. When gold drops, silver prices are close behind.

Over the last 40 years, the conversion averages out to 42.8 ounces of silver for one ounce of gold. But the relationship fluctuates and sometimes one of the metals will become significantly undervalued.

When the ratio drifts too far from the historical average, it usually foreshadows a big run. This has happened three times in the last 20 years; in 1995, 2003, and 2011. The respective gains for silver prices were 70%, 200%, and 420%.

If we assume the same gold price and use the 2011 conversion rate, silver should be around $36.60. Right now, the price of silver is hovering around $15.90, with a conversion rate of 74.0.

That being said, how can silver possibly go to $50.00?

Well, despite its apparent cheapness, silver is simply not as abundant a metal as investors seem to think. When you compare the actual deposits of silver and gold in the earth, the natural multiple is 17.0. Ideally, the physical relationship between silver and gold deposits should dictate the price relationship.

In order for silver to hit $50.00, the ratio would have to drop to 23.0, assuming that gold stays at its current price of $1,170.

However, if the stock market bubble finally bursts, investors may flee to gold and silver as a safe haven. Under those circumstances, silver could rise to $50.00 much quicker.
Follow the Smart Money

I’m not the first person to notice this amazing buying opportunity.

In the first quarter of 2015, billionaire investor Ray Dalio loaded up on more shares of Silver Wheaton Corp. (NYSE/SLW). The hedge fund manager now owns 510,000 shares valued at roughly $9.0 million.

If you want to cash in on a huge silver run, but are hesitant to own silver directly, Silver Wheaton may be a wise choice. The company finances smaller mining firms and pays for any silver they find, thus limiting the downside risks associated with managing a mine.

The stock is down almost 34% over the last year because of depressed commodity prices, but Ray Dalio and I both think that will change.

Low interest rates from the Federal Reserve have been propping up the stock market, but a rate hike later this year is virtually guaranteed. And when the market loses support from the Fed, a flight to safety will mean huge gains for silver.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Marco Polo 2oz Silver Coin - Journeys Of Discovery

Marco Polo 2oz Silver Coin - Journeys Of Discovery

The Marco Polo 2 oz Silver Coin marks the first release in our new Journeys of Discovery Coin Collection, which celebrates exploration and discovery of the unknown. 

This proof quality, fully engraved and high-relief coin captures the moment of Marco Polo meeting the great Kublai Khan. The scene is set in a stronghold of the powerful Mongol Empire which Polo marvelled so much at discovering. The packaging of a protective draw string sack has been designed to model the transport materials to trade around the globe at that time.

With a limited mintage of only 2,000 coins worldwide, this would make a special gift for coin collectors and inspire intrepid travellers on their own Journeys of Discovery.

*Please note that the image shown on the website is artwork and may differ slightly from the final product.

Marco Polo:

Marco Polo (1254 - 1324) was an Italian merchant traveller from Venice, who recorded his travels in Livres des Merveilles du Monde (Book of the Marvels of the World, also known as The Travels of Marco Polo). This account did much to introduce Europe to Central Asia and Chinese culture.

Marco Polo learned the mercantile trade from his father and uncle, who travelled through Asia and met Kublai Khan. In 1271, the three embarked on a journey which would lead to 17 years spent in China. From his travels, Polo amassed great knowledge of the Mongol Empire. He marvelled at the use of paper money, and was in awe of its economy and scale of production.

Soon after returning to Venice in 1295, war broke out with the rival city of Genoa. While in command of a ship, Polo was captured and imprisoned. It was during this period of time that he dictated stories of his travels to a cellmate. In 1299 he was released, and went on to become a wealthy merchant. While his writings were published in French, Italian, and Latin, few readers allowed themselves to believe his tales of strange lands far away.

Although he was not the first European to reach China, Marco Polo’s detailed account of his experiences was ground breaking for its time. These writings went on to inspire Christopher Columbus and many other travellers. In the centuries since his death Marco Polo has received recognition that was not given during his lifetime, as much of his journey of discovery has been verified.


  • Coin Metal: 999 Fine Silver
  • Coin Weight: 2 oz
  • Coin Finish: Proof
  • Coin Diameter: 40mm (Nominal)
  • Coin Edge: Milled
  • Coin Denomination: $5
  • Year of Issue: 2015
  • Coin Mintage: 2,000
  • Effigy : Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
  • Country of Issue : Niue
Purchase at the NZMint

Thursday, May 28, 2015

China's Revenge Serves Body Blows to BHP and Rio

China's revenge serves body blows to BHP and Rio

It's taken six years, but China is slowly turning the tables on the heavyweight iron ore miners.

In 2009, iron ore giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto decided they wanted to take advantage of China's soaring demand for iron ore, which was pushing prices ever higher. So they ditched the 40-year old system of setting annual contract prices in favour of using spot pricing for the majority of their iron ore shipped to China from 2010.

Needless to say, China's steel mills weren't very happy about that. BHP's previous CEO Marius Kloppers is widely acknowledged as the man most responsible for bringing about the change. With BHP and Rio filling a huge amount of China's demand, the steelmakers had little choice but to acquiesce. 

The changes, and China's thirst for iron ore, saw the iron ore price soar as high as US$191 per tonne in February 2011, from around US$60 per tonne in 2008. Rio Tinto produced record underlying earnings of US$15.5 billion in the 2011 financial year, with iron ore contributing US$12.9 billion. BHP, for its part, saw net profit rise 74 per cent to US$21.7 billion as revenues rose 36 per cent.

China may also still be sore over aluminium giant Chinalco's aborted US$19.5 billion investment in Rio Tinto back in 2010, which was aimed at gaining resource security. At the time, reports suggest Chinese officials feared that China was too vulnerable to both Rio and BHP, even separately. Rio's board canned the deal, and announced that it was instead forming an iron ore joint venture with BHP. That deal never went ahead – much to the relief of China.

The giant (re)awakens

But China has never forgotten, and appears unlikely to forgive. Now the sleeping giant has awakened, and looks set to turn the tables on Rio and BHP.

Firstly, China needed to loosen its dependence on the two Australian iron ore miners, so it has turned to Brazil's Vale. For many years Vale was snubbed by the Chinese. The iron ore giant had built a number of very large ore carriers to ship ore to China, but they have been banned from docking at Chinese ports since 2012.

Now, China hasn't just removed the restrictions but Vale has also sold 4 of the ore carriers to two of China's biggest shipping companies. Each carrier can transport up to 400,000 tonnes of iron ore, and could reduce Vale's production costs by as much as 25 per cent, according to some estimates. That would bring Vale's landed costs around the same as BHP and Rio's.

Vale also has a 25-year shipping agreement with China Cosco to transport iron ore from Brazil to China. China has gone another step further too, loaning Vale US$4 billion to help fund a US$16.5 billion project, known as S11D.

S11D is expected to produce 90 million tonnes of very high quality iron ore each year, taking Vale's production to 450 million tonnes of iron ore within the next few years.

In two moves, China has decreased its dependence on BHP and Rio, loosening their control over the iron ore market, and thanks to the increase supply of iron ore, achieved lower prices.

One last dance? 

Fairfax Media reports today that Chinese-linked companies have applied to the Foreign Investment Review Board seeking permission for an investment with Australia's self-styled 'new force in iron ore' Fortescue Metals Group.

Fortescue, with its US$7.7 billion in net debt, could strengthen its balance sheet with a capital injection, either to pay down debt in return for an equity stake, or refinance existing debt at lower rates. The miner recently issued US$2.3 billion in senior secured notes, but is paying a whopping 9.75 pe cent interest rate, at a time when interest rates around the world are at record low levels.

Fortescue could struggle to repay its debt load if iron ore prices continue to trade at or under US$60 per tonne, with some estimates putting the miner's breakeven price around US$70 per tonne. The company may well be amenable to a deal with the Chinese, particularly after the recent kerfuffle over the iron ore inquiry that was going ahead, but was cancelled.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Andrew Forrest Makes Surprise Investment in Atlas Iron (AGO)

Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has emerged as a new investor in rival Atlas Iron, despite continuing to serve as the chairman and major shareholder in Fortescue Metals Group.

Speaking after Atlas announced a strategy to restart mining through lower contracting fees and an equity raising of up to $180 million, the miner's chairman David Flanagan revealed that Mr Forrest had promised to participate in the raising.

"I am just so pleased to be able to announce that Andrew Forrest was the first person to put his hand up and say he was going to invest personally in that raising," he said.

"It is through one of his holding companies, whichever it will be ... we are not going to be sort of a subsidiary of Andrew Forrest Holdings, but it is meaningful in the extent of what we are doing going forward and that is all I can say.

"Thanks again to Andrew for backing Atlas."

Mr Forrest does not currently own shares in Atlas according to Bloomberg records, and the move continues a recent string of investments made by Mr Forrest in small miners.

Mr Forrest last week invested in small Victorian gold producer A1 Consolidated via his private company Minderoo Resources, and also has exposure to uranium play Vimy Resources and nickel junior Poseidon.

Mr Forrest declared earlier this year that he was setting up a new company designed to buy assets during the commodity price downturn, and some believe that company is Minderoo Resources.

Upon launching that new company in March, Mr Forrest vowed it would not compete with Fortescue's current or future strategies.

"A process has been put in place to ensure that if any possibility of doubt regarding conflicting interest arises, the matter will be resolved independently and quickly. I have written to the FMG board asking them to approve this process, and they have returned with their full support for our venture and its governance procedures," said Mr Forrest in March. 

When asked about Mr Forrest's investment in Atlas on Sunday, Fortescue chief financial officer Steve Pearce said he had "nothing to add".

"It is not a Fortescue investment," he said.

Mr Flanagan has announced his support for a federal government inquiry into iron ore, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced on Friday after listening to the thoughts of Mr Forrest.

BC Iron chairman Tony Kiernan and Cliffs Natural Resources chief executive Lourenco Goncalves also threw their support behind the inquiry on Sunday, along with Queensland University associate professor of regulator economics, Flavio Menezes. 

See more at: http://commoditiesaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2015/05/andrew-forrest-makes-surprise.html#sthash.gGGW2FcY.dpuf

Friday, May 15, 2015

Silver Buying Only Starting

Silver Buying Only Starting - Silver Investment News

Silver has enjoyed a fantastic week, awakening from its bottoming slumber to surge with gold. And this strong silver investment demand is likely only starting. American stock traders and futures speculators control two of the world’s largest pools of capital active in the silver market. And the former group still remains woefully under-invested in silver, while the latter still has massive short positions left to cover.

The global leader in fundamental silver analysis is the venerable Silver Institute, a think tank primarily funded by the world’s biggest and best silver miners. Every year, it publishes excellent comprehensive data on global silver supply and demand. Last year, total worldwide silver demand ran 1067m ounces. But investing in silver coins, bars, and ETFs only accounted for 197m, less than 1/5th of total demand.

Silver investment’s relatively small slice of that demand pie implies it isn’t important, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Silver’s two largest demand categories are industrial fabrication and jewelry, weighing in at about 4/7ths and just over 1/5th respectively. But these are very inelastic, they just don’t change much regardless of silver’s price. This is readily evident in the Institute’s past decade of data.

The average silver price in the last 10 years has been a roller coaster, skyrocketing from just over $7 in 2005 to over $35 in 2011 before collapsing back down near $19 in 2014. Yet global industrial demand was 639m ounces in 2005, 628m in 2011, and 595m last year. There is often no substitute for silver in manufactured products, and they use so little per unit that companies really don’t care what silver’s price is.

But silver investment demand varies dramatically with the shifting whims of traders’ sentiment towards this volatile metal. Over the past decade it has ranged from 52m ounces on the low side in 2005 to 289m on the high side in 2008, an incredibly volatile range! And since any market’s prices are effectively set by marginal new buying and selling, nothing is more important for silver prices than investment demand.

The past decade’s average annual silver investment demand was 196m ounces, which 2014’s 197m is dead on. For our purposes today, let’s round that to 200m ounces per year. That works out to under 17m per month. This basic background knowledge of global silver investment demand is essential in order to understand just how bullish silver looks today since this latest round of buying is likely only starting.

Traditional silver investing in physical coins and bars is the largest category of investment demand, averaging 136m ounces per year over the last decade. But it’s challenging to track, since the myriads of silver dealers and investors around the world don’t have to report their transactions. Silver ETFs, on the other hand, report their holdings daily and are easily collated. Their demand averages 67m ounces per year.

The world’s flagship silver ETF is the mighty iShares Silver Trust, which trades as SLV in the States. Its holdings this week were nearly 324m ounces, the equivalent of about a year and 2/3rds of worldwide investment demand. Launched in April 2006, it is the easiest, fastest, and cheapest way for American stock investors to gain silver exposure in their portfolios. This opened silver up to vast new pools of capital.

Silver has always had a zealous hardcore base of investors who decry any type of “paper silver”, which includes ETFs. If it’s not physical silver in their own possession, they want nothing to do with it. While I’ve always personally used and recommended that classic method of silver investing, it’s not for everyone. A lot of investors ranging from hedge funds to institutions legally can’t buy or don’t want the hassles of physical.

And silver ETFs are a perfect alternative for them. These investors buy ETF shares for a trivial fraction of what the premiums run on physical silver, and SLV in particular tracks the silver price perfectly. This can only happen because SLV is a conduit for stock-market capital to flow into and out of physical silver bullion. SLV’s managers have to constantly adjust SLV’s holdings to keep their ETF’s price mirroring silver’s.

When stock traders buy SLV shares faster than silver itself is being bought, they threaten to decouple to the upside. So SLV’s managers issue enough new ETF shares to offset this excess demand. Then they plow the proceeds directly into physical silver bullion held in trust for their shareholders. Thus any differential buying pressure on SLV shares directly bids up the underlying global physical silver market.

And just as silver is on the verge of a major breakout following this week’s sharp rally, American stock investors owning silver via SLV are still woefully underinvested by recent standards. This first chart looks at SLV’s silver-bullion holdings, with SLV’s price superimposed on top. And it reveals big room for new SLV buying, which will shunt stock-market capital directly into silver and accelerate its price gains.

Despite the very weak silver prices in recent years and resulting extreme bearishness on this precious metal, SLV’s holdings have actually risen on balance. They have enjoyed an exceptionally well-defined uptrend channel in the last several years, which seems pretty amazing. But realize that as silver’s price dropped, the amount of stock-market capital invested in SLV shares still contracted though its holdings grew.

Over this chart’s span, silver peaked just under $37 per ounce in late February 2012. That day SLV’s holdings of 313m ounces were worth $11.6b. Silver’s brutal bear market finally looks to have bottomed in early November 2014 at just over $15 per ounce. By that day SLV’s holdings had grown to 343m ounces, but this hoard was only worth $5.3b. So the SLV holdings’ uptrend is not as counter-intuitive as it seems.

Though SLV’s holdings climbed 9.7% between silver’s two extremes of recent years, the value of that silver plummeted 54% which was right in line with silver’s 58% loss over this span. So American stock investors certainly haven’t been hot on silver. In the middle of this week, as silver surged 3.8% to retake $17, SLV’s holdings were worth just $5.5b. That is vanishingly small, a trivial drop in the stock-capital bucket.

For comparison, of the 500 companies included in the benchmark S&P 500 stock index, only 26 had market capitalizations of $5.5b or less as of the end of last month. So American stock investors still have virtually nothing invested in silver. As silver continues rallying, they will start getting interested and then excited and buy in. And that differential buying will catapult silver higher, accelerating its rally and allure.

Only time will tell how much SLV buying we’re going to see, but it has the potential to be really big. This ETF’s peak silver holdings of just over 366m ounces came back in late April 2011 as silver was rocketing up over $48 in a speculative mania. That day SLV’s holdings were worth $17.2b, or 3.1x higherthan this week’s levels! But it could take massive silver gains over years to fuel such a big jump in stock capital invested.

More interesting for the near-term is the SLV-holdings uptrend. Silver has remained epically out of favor since its dismal bottom late last year. Since then its price has largely languished in a super-low trading range, mostly grinding listlessly sideways. So American stock investors have had no incentives at all to up their silver exposure. But this week’s young rally is already starting to change that bearish psychology.

SLV’s holdings around 324m ounces in the middle of this week certainly reflect the universal apathy and antipathy towards silver. As sentiment shifts from extreme bearishness back towards neutral, SLV is likely to see serious differential buying pressure on its shares. Remember that if stock traders bid up SLV shares faster than silver itself is rallying, SLV’s managers have to issue shares to buy more silver bullion.

Today the upper resistance of SLV holdings’ uptrend of recent years is around 352m ounces. Regaining that level would require over 28m ounces of differential buying. And even in silver’s dark recent years, SLV has witnessed multiple holdings surges from support to resistance that didn’t take much time at all. They happened in early 2013, mid-2013, and mid-2014, and each only took a couple months or so.

So the near-term silver buying potential from American stock traders is great. They remain woefully underinvested in silver right as it’s starting to surge, and they are likely to buy SLV shares aggressively enough to force a holdings build on the order of 28m ounces in a couple months. Remember that global monthly investment demand averages under 17m, so that’s a colossal boost from SLV buying alone.

Running these numbers, enough SLV differential buying merely to return its holdings back up to recent resistance would boost global silver investment demand by 85% for a couple months! That’s one major reason why I suspect the recent silver buying is only starting. And the really bullish and exciting thing is nothing begets buying like buying. The more silver rallies, the more investors will notice it and start to chase it.

But despite that large pool of capital by silver’s standards deployed in SLV, there’s another pool that just dwarfs it. There’s no one on the planet that moves more capital into and out of silver than the American futures speculators. They aggressively trade silver’s flows and ebbs with extreme leverage, exerting the greatest influence on silver’s daily price action. And theirshort positions are the key to silver’s near-term fortunes.

This next chart looks at the total levels of long and short silver futures contracts held by these dominant American futures speculators. This data is published weekly by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission in its famous Commitments of Traders reports. And the latest read current to last Tuesday reveals high short positions remaining in silver futures. These large bets will soon have to be covered.

While silver’s long-term price levels are ultimately a function of global supply and demand, in the short term American futures trading is the whole game. Note the super-strong inverse correlation between the SLV price in blue and speculators’ total silver-futures short contracts in red. Silver plunges when they aggressively short it, and then rallies when they subsequently scramble to exit those leveraged bearish bets.

This outsized influence of futures shorting on silver’s price is primarily a function of two things. First, as silver has fallen deeply out of favor in recent years investing interest has dramatically waned. So the influence of futures speculation on silver prices rose proportionally. Second, futures trading is a hyper-risky zero-sum game played with extreme leverage. That gives futures speculators outsized silver-price impact.

Each silver futures contract controls 5000 ounces of silver, which is worth $85,000 even at this week’s still-terribly-depressed silver prices. Yet speculators only need to keep $7700 in their accounts for each silver contract they own, the current minimum maintenance margin. That means they can run leverage of up to 11x, which is extreme. In the US stock markets, leverage has been legally limited to 2x since 1974.

At 11x leverage, a mere 9% move by silver against speculators’ positions will wipe out 100% of the capital they risked. And they could lose even more than originally bet if they face margin calls! Silver has always had a well-deserved reputation as an exceedingly-volatile metal, so 9% moves are nothing. This past Tuesday and Wednesday, silver surged 5.4% and that was modest by silver’s wild standards.

Speculators shorting silver, betting on its price falling, effectively have toborrow that silver before they sell it. This saddles them with the legal contractual obligation to buy that silver back to repay their silver debt. So high silver-futures short positions by this group of traders are very bullish for this white metal since they represent guaranteed near-future buying. As this chart shows, silver soon rallies after major shorting.

While speculators’ silver-futures short positions today aren’t extreme by recent years’ epic levels, they are still very high. As of last Tuesday’s CoT data, the latest available when this essay was published, American speculators held 49.6k short-side contracts. That is a huge bearish bet on silver prices. Between 2009 to 2012, the last normal years for the precious-metals markets, their short-side bets averaged just 21.5k.

The reason silver collapsed in early 2013 was because gold suffered its worst quarterly loss in 93 years thanks to the Federal Reserve’s radically-unprecedented QE3 manipulations in the financial markets. As the Fed levitated the general stock markets, demand for alternative investments led by gold withered. And silver is ultimately a leveraged play on gold, amplifying the yellow metal’s price action in both directions.

But even since then in the Fed’s epically-distorted markets, speculators’ total silver short contracts have rapidly contracted to or near 27k four separate times. This is support for speculator shorting in recent years. So it’s highly likely this group of traders’ downside silver bets will once again sharply fall back to these levels in the coming months. And that represents incredible levels of buying to catapult silver higher.

As of that latest CoT report, American speculators would have to buy to cover 22.6k contracts merely to return to that 27k short-side support level. And in the futures markets, the price impact of buying a long contract to offset and cover an existing short and buying a new long contract is identical. With each short contract representing 5000 ounces, this support approach would require an amazing 113m ounces of buying!

Now remember annual global silver investment demand averages around 200m ounces, so this short covering alone is equivalent to about 7 months of normal demand. And as the chart above shows, once these short-covering episodes get underway they unfold fast. The more speculators who buy to cover, the faster the silver price rallies. And the sharper silver’s climb, the more pressure on remaining traders to cover.

It’s only taken two or three months in recent years for speculators to buy back enough of their shorts to drive them back down to that 27k-contract support line. And that was from even higher total-short levels. So let’s assume a couple months for this next support approach. Run the numbers on that, and this coming short covering equates to staggering buying of over 56m ounces per month. That’s incredible!

During that short-covering frenzy, silver demand from this mandatory futures buying would run 3.4x the normal monthly average just under 17m ounces! If investors are migrating back into silver at the same time, both in physical and ETF terms, silver is going to power dramatically higher during that brief span. And investors returning becomes more and more likely with each passing day of silver rallying on balance.

So looking at SLV holdings and American speculators’ silver-futures shorts alone, silver buying is only starting. Both groups of traders are likely to shift large amounts of capital into silver in a short period of time, on the order of a couple months. And they will soon be joined by investors from around the world, in a surge of new buying that will almost certainly ignite silver’s next major upleg. Its upside potential is great.

Investors can certainly play this in traditional physical silver coins and bars or through the ETFs led by SLV. Since silver is so universally loathed these days, investors have forgotten that its price averaged over $31 in 2012 before the Fed’s extreme stock-market distortions. And as those are gradually unwound, starting with the coming rate hikes, precious metals should mean revert back up to pre-QE3 normal levels.

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The bottom line is the recent silver buying is likely only just starting. American stock investors remain woefully underinvested in silver, while American futures speculators remain heavily short it. Even in the anomalous recent years, it’s only taken a couple of months or so for both extremes to normalize. And that buying alone would run multiples of normal global silver investment demand over that span.

The resulting silver rally will probably be quite big and strong emerging from such bearish sentiment extremes. And it will motivate legions of investors around the world to redeploy in silver again. The more they buy, the faster silver will rally. And that will attract in even more investors, once again forming that very powerful bullish virtuous circle that silver is so famous for. Silver has real potential to surprise on the upside.