November 02, 2010

Moscow overnight became filled with men in uniform, and for us boys the sight of so many soldiers marching through the streets was utterly mesmeric.

Apart from my trip that Easter, I was not to return to Russia for almost half a century. My destination when I did so was Eastern Russia, to a region containing proven mineral reserves estimated to be worth $400 billion.

Petropavlovsk (LSE: POG), Russia’s third-largest gold mining company, is a London-based outfit operating in Eastern Russia’s Amur Region. The company works open pit mines. To extract the ore, grids of holes are drilled, dynamite is inserted, and the ore is then blasted. Petropavlovsk was founded in 1994 by British banker Peter Hambro and Pavel Maslovskiy, once a professor in plasticity at the Moscow Aviation Institute. The company has two principal mines at Pokrovskiy and Pioneer and is busy developing others. The recently commissioned Pioneer operation is both impressive and well organized. The company has overcome uncertainties about equipment availability and the normal commissioning problems. Their aim is to achieve strong growth in gold production over the next three years, and the signs say they will achieve it. The geological team is already working on new non-refractory ore zones in the northeast corner of its mining license at Malomir and in the eastern part of the license. Albyn is Petropavlovsk’s next major gold project, scheduled to contribute 200,000 ounces per annum from 2012 as part of the company’s growth plan.

Recently Petropavlovsk’s share price has dipped due to problems reaching its IPO target for a Hong Kong listing of IRC, Petropavlovsk’s iron-ore unit. I believe this is no more than a temporary blip and makes Petropavlovsk, currently trading at around 939p on the LSE, a good-looking prospect. A target of 1,500p looks easily achievable.

Of the other stocks we have been following since August, Aquarius Platinum, which was at 305p on September 6, is currently at 373p. Petra Diamonds, at 65p on August 12, is currently at 101p. Kenmare Resources, at 19p on September 28, is currently 21p.

A very satisfactory state of affairs.


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