Junior mining companies, firms that have no mining output currently but are tapping capital markets to finance development of identified new mines, have found increasing interest from the investor community. The heightened interest in junior miners stems from the fact that apart from a general upswing in commodity prices, these players have their mines at competitive locations and are set to benefit from new breakthroughs during exploration such as new findings and higher reserves. Three stocks have witnessed positive recent developments that might prove to be beneficial going forward. Fronteer Development Group ( FRG) is primarily engaged in the acquisition, exploration and development of gold and uranium properties or interests located in Nevada, Turkey and California. During the year ended December 2009, the company's cash and short-term deposits totaled $147.3 million, up 81.9% from $81 million in December 2008. The company believes that it has sufficient liquidity to fund its currently planned exploration and administrative budget through 2010 and beyond and also pursue acquisitions without the need to raise capital in the near to mid term. Subsequently, on April 26, Fronteer acquired Nevada Eagle Resources LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gryphon Gold Corp., for $4.75 million, thereby adding 44 gold properties to its large Nevada growth pipeline. NovaGold Resources ( NG) is a precious metals company engaged in the exploration and development of mineral properties in Alaska, the U.S. and British Columbia, Canada. In early March, the company completed $175 million of equity financing. Two prominent investors in the gold sector significantly increased their positions in the company, with several investment funds managed by Paulson & Co. investing a total of $100 million, and Quantum Partners Ltd., a private investment fund managed by Soros Fund Management LLC, investing $75 million. The company intends to use the net proceeds from these financings to fund general exploration and development on the company's advanced properties, including Donlin Creek, Galore Creek and Rock Creek, and the Ambler property, which it acquired in January this year.
The company picked a 100% stake in Ambler copper-zinc-gold-silver deposit, where previously it had an option to acquire a joint-venture, 51% interest through an agreement with subsidiaries of Rio Tinto ( RTP). This purchase added 769 million pounds of copper, 1.1 billion pounds of zinc, 230,000 ounces of gold and 16 million ounces of silver to NovaGold's resource base. The stock has gained 7% in the last month, closing at $8.34 on Monday. Last month, Dahlman Rose & Co rated the stock buy with a target price of $9.90. Keegan Resources ( NG) is a junior gold company engaged in the acquisition and exploration of resource properties. The properties of the company are Esaase Gold Property and Asumura Gold Project, both located in southwest Ghana. On April 6, Keegan gave an update of the preliminary assessment for the Esaase Gold project. According to the study by Lycopodium Minerals Pvt. Ltd and Coffey Mining Pvt. Ltd, the project has a net pre-tax cash flow (undiscounted) of $397 million. The mine would recover 1.98 million ounces of gold over a 10-year mine life. Over the first three years, on average, Esaase will produce 243,300 ounces. Recently, the stock was rated buy by Dundee Securities with a price target of $9.50. The stock closed at $6.17 Monday, up 4.4% from the previous day's close.