Which Tiny .70 Company Found the “Supernova Gold” Mother Lode?

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, December 9, 2010

Those who’ve been with the Gumshoe for a while know that it’s tough to top Stansberry’s Phase 1 Investor for marketing that uses over-the-top hyperbole about tiny biotech and mining stocks, and creative names that obscure the truth behind their investments — that doesn’t seem to have changed much with the new(ish) guy at the helm, Frank Curzio, who has already pitched a couple “creatively named” ideas for mining and resource penny stocks (that being the “Thermogenic Oil (geothermal stocks)” and “Underwater Gold Sands (underwater mining)” teasers from the last six months or so).

And you also may know that this newsletter, which is their most expensive ($3,000 a year), usually focuses on microcap stocks — so I’ll forewarn you that whether or not this ends up being a stock that I like or you like, it’s so teensy and illiquid that the shares are likely to move just because I’m going to share the name with you (and, to be fair, because other folks are probably sniffing out this stock and trying to trade around the recommendation to get any “pop” that this teaser causes). Of course, if you rush out to try to trade off the typical pop that tiny stocks get from teasers (or even from me), this will probably be the time it doesn’t work. Stansberry’s ads are going to reach millions of people, but probably far more will read this Gumshoe article than will subscribe to a $3,000 newsletter, so … reader beware.

That said, despite the fact that I sometimes have some reluctance about sharing such illiquid and hard-to-trade ideas with the ever-growing great Gumshoe Faithful, I’ve gotten a huge number of questions about this specific one so I feel obligated to share the info I have — and I’m sure I can trust the mighty multitudes of Gumshoedom to make their own best choices with their money. I won’t share nearly as much information about this stock as Curzio will, I’m sure, but I can at least sift through his ad and share the name and some basic details with you so you can do your own research and decide for yourself whether or not you think it will make the 3,000% that Curzio teases.

Enough of my bloviating — you want answers, right? Let’s see who this “Supernova Gold” stock is …

If you haven’t seen the ad yet (or listened to it — and yes, that is really Frank Curzio’s voice reading the spiel), then here’s how it starts:

“A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far Away…

“Supernova Gold”

..”.A star exploded, firing meteorite shrapnel toward Earth. It scattered in 5 major regions, on land and sea. Embedded in this space rock was an otherworldly element, which we call “Supernova Gold.” Over the centuries, it’s been used in everything from currencies to pharmaceuticals. Only today are scientists beginning to understand it on an atomic level… and unlock its amazing true potential.

“This summer, a tiny 70-cent company stumbled onto a piece of the original explosion, which may contain the “Supernova Gold” mother lode. According to our calculations, when they tap this deposit, shares could jump 3,233% or more…”

I don’t know how many cosmologists there are out there in Gumshoedom, but you may well already know that essentially every metal on earth came from the stars (just like folks do in supercolliders now, these heavier elements were formed by smashing lighter elements, like hydrogen and helium, together in the intense gravity of star formation), though there still seems to be plenty of discussion and debate about whether these heavier elements were formed by normal star activity or specifically from supernovas … and yes, this metal, which Curzio later tells us is Manganese, has its origins in the stars, and maybe in supernovas. I’m not a scientist, that’s just my basic understanding.

There’s quite a lot of manganese on earth — it’s not super-rare like platinum group metals, which are theorized to have been formed by asteroid or meteorite collision with earth — but most manganese is mined from South Africa, Gabon, China and Australia, and there are a relatively small number of places that produce appreciable amounts of the stuff. And it is valuable for lots of uses — Curzio notes that scientists are using nanoscience to make oil spill-cleaning “webs” using the unique properties of manganese, for one new development, and it is being used in newer variations of the batteries (faster recharging, longer lasting) that will be required for electric cars and other modern conveniences. So that’s part of the basis for the expectation that demand for manganese will explode in the future.

But as of today the vast, vast majority of manganese goes into the global steel industry, where it is used to alloy with steel and stainless steel (and also aluminum, though on a far smaller scale). It is not an investor-traded metal, and it’s not supremely valuable by the ounce like silver — from what I can see of prices it looks like manganese is roughly as valuable as zinc, or about a tenth the price (per ton) of nickel. Oh, and by the way: manganese is not just easily confused with magnesium for those who type too fast — if you read this article carefully, you’ll probably see somewhere that I made that mistake — it’s also almost exactly as valuable, you could theoretically buy either for a little less than $1.50 per pound … though they’d rather sell it by the ton or the shipload, I’m sure.

As Curzio notes in the tease, manganese has also historically been used as a coin metal, at least to some degree, and that use continues today. In the US, wartime nickels — which are still collected for their high silver content — are about 9% manganese, and the current dollar coins also include a manganese alloy. No one’s buying these for the magnesium, of course, the magnesium value of a wartime nickel is about a tenth of a cent and the silver therein is worth about $1.50. Just a curiosity.

But enough musing on magnesium from me — how about some more clues from Curzio about this particular miner?

“It’s hands down, the most exciting (and unusual) moneymaking opportunity of my career.

“You see, in a remote region of the globe – somewhere near the Strait of Malacca – a 70-cent mining stock has made an amazing discovery…

“They’ve found one of the world’s largest deposits of a metal we’re calling ‘Supernova Gold.'”

The Strait of Malacca, in case you need a geography pointer, is a busy shipping lane in southeast Asia, a narrow strip of ocean running between Malaysia (the peninsular part) and Sumatra — it’s also a huge traffic chokepoint for global trade and a prime spot for piracy, not that either (or the Strait itself) is particularly relevant to the topic of the day, other than to confirm that this is a 70 cent stock somewhere in the far east.

We get some more background on magnesium and a few tangential clues in this next bit from the ad:

“‘The world has gone short of [it]. That’s why there is a scramble to secure future supplies,’ said Peter Toth, former executive at BHP Billiton.

“The supplies of high-grade ‘Supernova Gold’ are scarce… and the number of big mines is limited.

“Which makes the discovery we recently learned about so potentially lucrative…

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“The company responsible for the discovery is so incredibly small – and the potential amount of “Supernova Gold” in their possession is so incredibly big…

“That early shareholders in this investment could literally get rich with a single stake.

“Just based on the numbers alone – the amount of ‘Supernova Gold’ these guys are probably sitting on… and recent prices – we’re looking at a possible upside of 3,200%!!!

“At that rate, you could receive more than $160,000 for every five thousand invested.

“Now, I’ve spoken with the company – the CEO and geologists. They plan to start an intensive exploration program in the next month! The metal is just lying there. You can see it from aerial photographs… “

So that’s helpful, and I might be able to speculate on the name after these clues — but thankfully, Curzio throws a few more tidbits our way that make it far easier:

” … we’ve found a no-brainer way you could make a fortune from it.

“Here’s how…

“For the past 45 years, one of the biggest resource firms has been running the richest, high-grade “Supernova Gold” mine in the world.

“If I said the name of the company, you’d probably recognize it.

“Bottom line, this mine has been a cash cow. Last year, this resource giant generated $1.08 billion from it alone….

“We came across a 70-cent penny stock that just made the score of a lifetime…a “Supernova Gold” deposit potentially just as big – if not bigger – than the mine I just described.

“Preliminary data suggests that there’s enough ‘Supernova Gold’ here to make it one of the ten biggest deposits in the world…

“And it’s owned by a stock so small, you’d never find it in a million years on your own.

“What this tiny company did was gutsy, to say the least…

“They claimed all of the land rights surrounding this big company’s ‘Supernova Gold’ mine.

“Why would they do such a thing?

“Because their geologists learned something pretty interesting:

“The ‘Supernova Gold’ deposit extended well BEYOND the big company’s official mining claim…

“And into unclaimed territory… “

He goes on to tell us that “preliminary data” tells us that the land might include “more than 100 megatons” of the “supernova gold” (manganese).

There’s a story of fighting and intrigue over this claim to the land, too, as you might expect, but basically the spiel is that the “big mining company” fought the claim by these upstarts, then when that failed they claimed the land out past the newly claimed area … so the mining claims in the region must look a bit like a target, the current mine in the middle, the new claims from this microcap surrounding them, then more claims by the operator of the current mine outside those new claims. Just in case it wasn’t confusing enough.

And Curzio also tells us what’s unique about this new claim that let it go unclaimed for so long:

“The tiny company’s deposit lies in intertidal waters– where the land and sea meet. Back in the 1960’s – when this big company first laid claim to the deposit – companies never set foot in the water…

“The technology just didn’t exist.

“Today, companies mine ocean waters thousands of feet deep for resources of all kinds – oil, diamonds, gold, you name it.

“It’s not easy, or cheap. But companies do it all the time.

“In this case, however, the water is literally knee-deep! Very little drilling or mining required. In many spots you can reach down and grab ‘Supernova Gold’-rich rocks from the water.”

Then it’s time for some numbers that will further help us confirm the name of the stock:

“The executives at this tiny company have made it perfectly clear that they plan to begin exploring and sampling before the end of the year…

“Assuming this company reaches production stage, which we believe it will…

“Then these guys could easily start raking in $1 billion in sales each year.

“That’s what its next door neighbor – the big resource giant I mentioned earlier – generated last year. Incredibly, this tiny company has stated they expect to mine twice as much ‘Supernova Gold’ in its first year of production.

“If a tiny company worth less than $70 million in the stock market were to grow to have a market-cap of $1 billion…

“You’re looking at a 3,200%+ increase. “

And then we get a littany of other minor clues — with one of the more important ones being that it’s not traded on a domestic exchange, and that it’s never been covered by the mainstream financial press. And, to be fair, Curzio does breeze through some of the potential downside in this risky investment:

“… for starters, this tiny company is still in the exploration phase.. and has never mined a deposit this potentially large; they could botch the operation. The government could do an about-face and reject their claim. The Chinese could stop modernizing… the automotive industry could abandon electric cars… and the ‘Supernova Gold’ market could totally collapse…”

And, as the Stansberry folks have typically done with these kinds of “high value” teaser picks, they will be holding a conference call — if you’re looking for a potential catalyst, that might be another one, the ad says it will be on December 16 and will include some independent expert and an executive from the company.

But really, I’ve been quite long-winded enough — what is this stock? Well, toss all that info into the Thinkolator and the answer comes out, this must be …

Groote Resources (GOT in Australia, where almost all of the shares trade, or GRUTF on the EXTREMELY THINLY TRADED pink sheets … and actually, trading is very thin even in Australia, this is a very, very small company). They have about 80 million shares outstanding (and almost as many in-the-money listed options), so if you ignore the options the market cap is right around $50 million (or A$50 million if you prefer, as long as we’re saying “right around”). Tiny.

And the initial Phase 1 subscribers or other sleuths out there are probably sniffing around already, the volume picked up slightly in Australia this week but picked up dramatically on the pink sheets listing, which is so rarely traded that it’s really more of a “grey sheet” stock … but this week it has very uncharacteristically traded hundreds of thousands of shares, almost as much on some days as is traded in Australia (though still so light that one or two buyers — yes, you — could easily spike the price).

And the “big mining company” around whose mine they claimed land is GEMCO, whose mine is on Groote Eylandt (old Dutch for “big island”), an island now owned by an aboriginal group and just offshore Northern Territory, near the northernmost point of Australia. The manganese mine on the island has been in operation for almost 50 years, and GEMCO (Groote Eylandt Mining Co) is actually a joint project of two names you almost certainly know, BHP Billiton (BHP — 60% owner) and Anglo American (AAUK — 40%). They say they supply about 15% of the world’s manganese, though I haven’t checked that, and this is by far the largest manganese mine in Australia, and one of the lowest-cost such mines in the world (and yes, per Curzio’s tease, the mine produced EBITDA of about $1.1 billion in the last fiscal year).

Groote did see a share price spike recently (enough to get the attention of Aussie regulators), though all of that came before the Stansberry promotion started running widely (I have no idea if they mentioned it to subscribers before that or not). They also announced a preliminary agreement with South Korea which I assume would help them get mine financing eventually (they’re still a long way from that point). The shares are now in the mid-60 cent range (the Aussie dollar and the US dollar are fairly close to parity right now, though check currency rates for yourself), and they have been far higher as news of this mining claim has percolated through the market over the past year — they’ve had some developments that moved the share price, like announcements of their exploration program and granting of licenses over the Summer.

The part about results coming soon is not invented for the tease — Groote has said that their plan was to start drilling this quarter and to release preliminary resource numbers early in 2011, though in other spots on their website that has now slipped to “mid 2011” and the “three month” exploration program is sometimes described as “six months.” I don’t know whether they’ve actually started drilling yet, or what stage of exploration they’re currently in, but according to their plans they’re probably somewhere in the thick of it.

Their claims are on territory that seems very similar to GEMCO’s mine, so company management sounds very confident about finding comparably high-grade ore, with a lot of it very close to the surface (3-15 meters under sand, I read) and in shallow water (mostly less than 20 feet deep) just offshore Groote Eylandt, near the Western side of the island where GEMCO’s mine is located.

If you’d like to start your research into this tiny little company, they do have an investor presentation here that gives the basic info (the photo that Curzio shows in the ad, of ore on the beach, is from this presentation).

Groote Eylandt, incidentally, was until very recently called Western Uranium (not the Canadian one, which is still traded and apparently unrelated), and it was only when they bought out a small company called Reflective Minerals (the purchase was announced late in 2009, not sure when it closed) that they acquired these Groote Eylandt claims that Reflective had filed, and later changed their name. They do also have one other active project in exploring for uranium in Western Australia, but it ain’t all that active — the Groote Eylandt project appears to consume pretty much all of their attention and cash (including some other areas of licensing that they’re pursuing, but that are a bit further behind, including some smaller islands nearby).

If you’re looking for the negatives in Groote’s plan, aside from the typical negatives for a junior explorer that Curzio mentions (the market for the metal, operational performance, ability to produce the stuff economically), the other major concern I’ve seen in just a very cursory look at this stock is that the native population, the aboriginal owners of the island, may well put up a serious fight over their offshore mining plan.

I have no idea how that might end up, and it’s probably far from being decided, but it’s worth a look — there is one group of activists that has collated some news coverage of these objections if you’d like to give those articles a look, most of the coverage comes from early November, when aboriginal groups started talking loudly about objections and planned legal action, though the concerns and objections aren’t new (they were covered in this article from April as well, for example). I assume that Groote requires at least some level of approval from the aboriginal owners and an environmental review process before they could go much further than the limited exploration they’re now doing (some articles indicate that aboriginal groups have a veto power, but I haven’t checked that), or that legal action could gum things up, but I don’t really know what the procedures are in that part of the world or how much power the aboriginal group has (the exploration license was apparently granted by the Northwest Territory government). It’s pretty clear to me that the aboriginal concerns were the cause of the fall in the share price from about 65-70 cents back in October to 35 cents in mid-November, though the shares have since recovered pretty much all of that ground. Just another reason to remind ourselves that tiny speculative miners are almost always cheap for a reason, even if their prospective resource is potentially massive.

So that’s all I can tell you about Groote Resource from my quick look at the shares — I’m quite certain that this is Curzio’s teaser pick for Phase 1, but I don’t know if it will turn out to be a good investment … or what else he might tell you about it if you chose to subscribe to his letter, or how he might describe the risks. So for those of you who are interested: go forth, researchify, and let us know what you think with a comment below.

If you’ve ever subscribed to Phase 1, please click here to let us know what you thought by submitting a brief review — we do have some reviews of the title on file, though they’re arguably not terribly relevant because most of them date back to the former editor.



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