NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As gold prices stay above $1,000 an ounce, small-cap miners like Paramount Gold and Silver ( PZG) could be big winners.

I recently talked with Paramount Gold CEO Christopher Crupi about development of the company's San Miguel mine in Mexico and the miner's prospects.

Mining is a risky business. It can take as much as 10 years for a junior to start extracting metal, during which the company might have to undergo a series of equity offerings and asset sales to raise capital.

Mining stocks typically offer a 3 to 1 leverage to gold's spot price. The popular physically backed gold ETF, SPDR Gold Shares ( GLD), is averaging a year-to-date return of 27.12% while the Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF ( GDX), a basket of large-cap miners, has a year-to-date return of 37.28%. Small-cap mining stocks could offer even more leverage.

Junior miners typically have a market cap of under $1.5 billion. They are also primarily in the exploration or developmental stage of production. As above ground gold supply tightens and investment demand grows, gold prices will keep rising, providing big opportunities for investors who can gamble with the juniors.

TheStreet: When do you expect to actually pull metal out of the ground?

Crupi: The project would be on schedule for three years from now. And we'd be looking for a partner to help do that. We're an exploration group so there are ample partners in Mexico looking for our type of project.

Do you have names?

You know pretty much all the major silver and gold producers that are in Mexico and many of them that are Canadian. And no, I can't reveal their names . We've signed confidentiality agreements with many of them so I wouldn't be able to tell you who they are.

Many other small-cap miners are hoping for the same thing, either a partnering or a buyout. But there are really only six major large-cap mining companies that have the resources to do that. So why does your company measure better than others?

Well first of all, there are actually dozens of them, but the thing is that Mexico has become the jurisdiction of choice. During the recent financial crisis in '08, '09 there was a lot of pullout from Mexico in the junior space so the few juniors that are left and who have actually raised money to develop mines to the next stage are the ones who are looking fairly bright.

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