Mining Companies: Why Smaller Is Better
It's certainly true in mining (as in any other business) that the more outlets you operate, the more things can go wrong. However, more unique to mining is the reality that as these projects grow in size individually, the number of things "that can go wrong" increases nearly exponentially.
We can start with the environmental/permitting issues. Very large mining operations tend to be "dirty," thus they impact a much larger geographical radius (even in proportion to their size). Depending on the location, the permitting process ranges from difficult to impossible, and is usually much longer than the permitting process for smaller projects -- delaying return on capital investment.
A parallel but different problem are the aboriginal land claims that often exist in the regions in which these mining companies explore. Again, with these mega-projects impacting a much larger radius, it is much more likely land-claims will add further costs, further delays or sometimes prevent development altogether.
Assuming that a large-cap mining company eventually completes the permitting/land-claims obstacle course and actually gets the "green light" to develop a project, we then get to mine construction. This starts with the fact that given the previously mentioned hurdles these projects face, construction usually begins behind schedule.With our banker-produced inflation causing construction costs to soar, the "feasibility study" which produced the cost-estimates for construction is often obsolete before the first piece of construction equipment arrives on site. Similarly, large projects take longer to complete. Not only does this delay the return on capital further, but it generally guarantees even more cost-overruns. While this does not provide a complete picture of all the additional headaches which come with attempting to develop a mining mega-project (I haven't even touched on the issues of financing such projects), by now readers should have a pretty good picture of the nightmares involved. Given that these are the only projects which large-cap (gold) mining companies seek to develop, is it any wonder they are among the world's worst corporate under-achievers: resource-producers who are floundering in a resource-starved world? While this paradigm affects the entire mining industry, it is especially acute with respect to gold and silver miners. This is simple economics. Many of my previous commentaries have documented the
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