Shares of mining development company PolyMet Mining Corporation (NYSEMKT: PLM) are up 12.8% as of noon EDT today. While there wasn’t any specific company news to report, it would appear that rising precious metals prices have investors interested in this stock again.
When it comes to mining companies, nothing is going to move a stock price more than good news about metals prices. In the case of PolyMet, what really matters is copper and nickel, as those are the primary ores in the ground at its prospective NorthMet mining project in Northern Minnesota. Over the past year, both copper and nickel prices have been on a steady upswing.
There is one issue with Wall Street pushing up PolyMet’s stock price because of ore prices, though. As it stands, PolyMet doesn’t actually produce any copper or nickel. Management is still trying to complete the permit and environmental-review stage of the mining project, which has been going on since 2004.
One of the issues with anyone jumping into PolyMet based on metals prices is that there is no guarantee that the company will benefit from these prices or price trends anytime soon. The prospective mine has been hung up in the permitting stage for over 14 years, and there is still extensive permitting left, according to management. Then, there is the issue of refurbishing the existing ore processing facilities it has on site and turning this into a fully functioning and modern mine. That is likely going to take several hundred million dollars (as is the case with most mines), And, frankly, Polymet’s $269 million market cap suggests it doesn’t have the financial fortitude to pull it off itself.
Granted, a large portion of the company’s stock is owned by international mining giant Glencore, so if the company can get to the construction and development phase, there is a well-financed partner to back it up. However, this is a company that hasn’t made much headway on this mining project in almost a decade and a half, so until we see some material progress toward a mine getting built, it’s best to stay away from this company.
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