In my day job as a geologist, I've been fortunate to be involved with a number of resource ventures over the years. I spend a lot of time in the wilderness looking for big mineral deposits and oil and gas fields.
The thing is, most geologists are wildly optimistic -- almost romantically so. They're dreamers, and the idea of a big find keeps them going. But as an analyst, I know that in order to make truly outsized gains in this sector, you need to be selective.
For example, October 2014 was an historic month for the natural resources sector.
We witnessed an incredible event that underscored just how powerful wealth creation can be when it comes to finding, developing and producing commodities.
I'm talking about the birth of a new mine.
The operation in question is the Eleonore gold mine in Quebec, Canada.
Eleonore's owner, Goldcorp (NYSE: GG), announced on October 2 that the mine had reached commercial production -- meaning it was pouring its first gold bars. The operation is expected to ramp up to between 250,000 and 280,000 ounces of output his year, making it one of the premier assets in Goldcorp's world-leading portfolio of mines.
But the story of this major gold mine actually began long ago, at a time when few investors cared about the yellow metal.
In the late 1990s a tiny exploration company called Virginia Mines set out to survey the remote wilderness of Quebec -- looking for major mineral discoveries in this proven, yet vast, terrain.
Back in those days, Virginia Mines' exploration efforts garnered little attention. Gold was, after all, trading at just a few hundred dollars per ounce -- a 20-year low. The market was about as depressed as it could get.
But for a start-up like Virginia, that was -- in some ways -- a good thing. The dire state of the gold industry meant there was little competition for projects. The company's foresighted management was therefore able to pick up a package of prospective properties across Quebec for little more than the cost of staking the land.
The downtime in the gold market also meant there was little competition for funding to gold companies.
To be sure, there weren't a lot of investors putting money into these kinds of mining ventures at the time. But a trickle of funding had started to appear -- as a handful of investors began to look at the gold market and think, "It can only get better from here."
And it did -- in a big way.
Starting in 2001 the gold price in fact went on a phenomenal run, rising to $1,000 per ounce by 2008 -- for a gain of nearly 300% in less than eight years.
That rise in the metal price lifted all the stocks in the gold sector. But Virginia Mines was a standout during this time -- because it had set itself up perfectly during the preceding bottom in the market.
You see, Virginia took the portfolio of exploration properties it picked up when no one was looking, and ran with them, making a major discovery at a then-unknown property -- Eleonore.
On September 15, 2004, Virginia announced that it had found gold at Eleonore -- hitting a big swath of mineralization in drilling, consisting of 16 meters of core grading a muscular 18.85 grams of gold per metric ton -- one of the best drill intersections seen in North America in years at that time. Over the next two years, further work would show that the deposit contained four million ounces of mineable gold reserves -- making it a truly world-class discovery when compared with other deposits, which largely struggle to make it past a threshold of even one million ounces.
With the gold market now in full swing, the big numbers at Eleonore caught the attention of some major players in the sector, including Goldcorp -- which, in December 2005, offered $420 million to buy out Virginia in order to gain control of the valuable deposit.
The chart below shows the rewards that this success reaped for Virginia's shareholders. A stock that could have been had at under $1 at the bottom ended up being cashed out at nearly $16 over the course of a couple years.
Today, Eleonore is continuing to create value -- now in form of cash flow for its current owners.
And here's the thing... these kinds of explosive growth opportunities can be found at any time in the commodity cycle.
In August 2013, for example, I saw a disconnect between the share price and the underlying value of Ivanhoe (OTC: IVPAF) -- known as Ivanplats at the time -- an $800 million junior miner that few investors had never heard of. Four weeks after recommending the stock, I advised readers of my premium newsletter, Scarcity & Real Wealth, to take their profits, which amounted to a gain of 50%.
More recently -- in September 2014, to be exact -- I advised my readers to cash in on Houston-based Oiltanking Partners (NYSE: OILT), a $4.5 billion energy storage and transportation company that was a $1.4 billion energy and storage company when I recommended it eight months earlier. The take? A cool 72.1% gain for those Scarcity & Real Wealth readers who got into and out of the stock when I recommended they do so.
These are a testament to the value that can be won in the junior resources business -- even during the times that appear darkest for the industry. And right now, I'm finding some rare opportunities in the gold sector (and elsewhere) that are setting up for truly astounding gains. If you're interested, I invite you to click here. You'll be taken to a short page that tells you a little more about my newsletter, Scarcity & Real Wealth, and have the opportunity to receive two brand-new research reports just for joining me.