DOING SOME DIGGING Summer is Waning, Metal Prices Still Hot

Here it is, the beginning of September and the heat is going out of the day earlier and earlier. Summer is sliding...

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Here it is, the beginning of September and the heat is going out of the day earlier and earlier. Summer is sliding toward autumn as the vacation season ends and the school year begins. One thing that is not cooling is the US-dollar price of major metals, most of which are hotter than they have been for five years.

Since September 1999, the gold price has moved up steadily from $260/oz to $410. Of course it helps to remember that this five-year rise followed a five-year decline. The net effect is that gold is trading $10 higher than in September 1994.

Base metals, too, are enjoying their own price increases. Copper is about $1.30/lb, compared to $0.80 five years ago. Nickel, although its price has had something of an elevator ride this year, is $6.00/lb, compared to $3.00. Lowly lead has risen to $0.40/lb from $0.25. Aluminum, which fell from $0.70/lb to $0.60 through 2002-03, has bounced back to almost $0.80/lb. Only zinc prices are bucking the trend, falling to less than $0.45/lb from $0.55 over the period.

After two years of downturn reaching as low as $7.00/lb, uranium prices have steadily improved since 2001. They are now resting at a little over $19.00.

Looking back over the list of strong prices, I am reminded that exploration for all these minerals is going on at a frenzied pace. Good prices have a very stimulating effect on the exploration sector in Canada and around the world. So as the seasons change, I'm looking forward to the numerous reports from exploration projects both large and small, far and near. Some of them will become new mines.

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