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10 Best-Performing Mining Stocks in 2010

3. Silver Wheaton (SLW - Get Report), established in 2004, quickly positioned itself as the world's largest metals streaming company.

The company has a portfolio of world-class assets, including silver streams on the Penasquito mine in Mexico and Barrick Gold's Pascua-Lama project in Chile and Argentina. The company expanded its mining capacity and produced around 16.2mn ounces of silver during 2009. For 2010, the company expects to produce 22.0 million ounces, and increase it to 40 million ounces by 2013.

The company presently has 15 silver purchase agreements and two precious metals agreements, in exchange for an upfront payment, to purchase all or a portion of silver production, at a low fixed cost, from high-quality mines located in politically stable countries. These unique agreements allow Silver Wheaton to keep silver production costs below the industry average.

Year-to-date, the stock gained around 152%, ahead of Pan American Silver's 64% and Compania de Minas Buenaventura's (BVN) 45% gains.

For the current quarter, Silver Wheaton expects to report earnings of 28 cents, up from 15 cents recorded a year earlier. For the full-year, the company is set to report earnings of 77 cents per share for 2010 and $1.34 per share for 2011, in comparison to earnings of 38 cents per share in 2009, according to analysts polled by Bloomberg. Of the 16 analysts covering the stock, 10 recommend buying and six holding.

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