SYDNEY – From gold to graphite to zinc to lithium, Australia’s army of “penny dreadful” stocks is rising from the ashes of the mining bust and growing at rates that majors like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto can only wish for.
Micro miners are posting double or even triple-digit gains, buoyed by a belief that metals prices have bottomed, while companies that managed to come through the downturn are being aided by cheaper labor and operating costs.
“It’s about the growth and the profit that can come very quickly,” said Perth-based retail investor Tim Larmont, who has been dabbling for over two decades in a sector that’s known as a hothouse for day traders and speculators.
“There’s always that expectation it will end tomorrow, but it looks like it could last longer this time. These companies aren’t burning through money like they used to. Anyone that’s survived is more responsible.”
Renewed optimism is reflected in near-record attendance at this week’s Diggers and Dealers mining conference, where some 1,800-plus prospectors, miners and bankers are crowding into the outback town of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia’s goldfields.
Gold miners were like “rock stars”, Evolution Mining chairman Jake Klein told the conference.
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