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What happened

Shares of gold miner McEwen Mining (NYSE:MUX) are up 10.4% as of 11:30 a.m. EST, rising well above many of its peers as gold stocks are rallying today. 

So what

It's hard to pin down exactly what is fueling the modest rally in gold stocks today, but McEwen Mining isn't the only one seeing a significant bump. 

MUX Price Chart

MUX Price data by YCharts.

We could put on our speculation caps and find something if we had to, and I'm sure there are going to be a fair number of people in the realm of financial punditry who will find a way to put some spin on today's move. The reality is, though, that gold prices are up a little bit and for unclear reasons. So it seems that this is a case of much ado about nothing.

The fundamentals for McEwen Mining remain pretty much unchanged. The company has a good but not great all-in sustaining cost of $860 per ounce of gold. Certainly not the best in the industry, nor is it dire as the current spot price of gold is around $1,150 an ounce. It also helps that unlike many of its larger peers, McEwen is debt-free. So while the rest of the companies in the industry look to repair their balance sheets, McEwen can focus on growth. 

The downside is that McEwen is a small fish in a big pond and it gets all its revenue from two mines today, with plans to get to four mining sites by 2019. Having so much of its future tied up in so few assets can add some risk that would be less of an issue with larger, more diversified miners. Also, shares currently trade at 14 times sales. At that price level, the market is anticipating jaw-dropping growth rates in the coming years. 

Now what

For anyone who has a long-term thesis for McEwen, either for or against, today is a non-story that changes nothing. Without any fundamental change to the business happening, it's just as likely that the stock could drop again by double digits tomorrow. That is the crux of investing in small-cap mining stocks -- they are especially prone to volatility.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.