Why that prefeasibility study needs a big warning label

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The wide degree of speculation that is needed to author a preliminary feasibility study and other economic documents is not clear to the general investor, said Douglas Silver, CEO of Balfour Holdings.

On Friday Silver joined editor Neils Christensen, Kitco correspondent Paul Harris and mining audiences manager Michael McCrae to record a podcast.

Silver has had a career being on the right side of industry trends. He was founder of International Royalty Corporation, which was acquired by Royal Gold in 2010. Total deal size was C$750 million. Silver also helped get the Denver Gold Group off the ground, a leading industry show.

In discussing his issues with economic studies produced by juniors and developers, Silver pointed out that capital cost need to build a mine typically are 30% to 60% over budget. A lack of standards by the firms generating the studies are part of the problem. There is just too much variability.

The economic studies are just forecasts, but they can mislead investors.

“Preliminary economic estimates are very, very important, but they’re important internally for the company for designing future programs,” said Silver, noting that an investor expecting a 35.5% internal rate of return on a project when capital costs are libale to swing +/-35% is a gross misrepresentation.

Silver would like to see better regulation and standards, warning that if the issue is not fixed it could lead to erosion of trust.

Kitco’s interview with Rick Rule, director of Sprott Inc., was reprised. Green energy has provided tailwinds for demand in certain metals, while the supply side is constrained by under-investment, said Rule noting that this demand-supply imbalance is likely going to cause another commodities supercycle.

CORRECTION: Douglas Silver’s company was amended, as well as deal size of Royal Gold transaction.

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