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A Sober Reawakening for Rubicon Minerals

By Christopher Barker - Updated Apr 6, 2017 at 10:39PM

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Rubicon's amended resource estimate leaves plenty of room for excitement.

The party rages on for this gold bonanza holder, even if the music has been turned down a notch or two.

A distinct pall of uncertainty fell over the red-hot shares of Red Lake (Ontario) gold explorer Rubicon Minerals (AMEX: RBY) in mid-February, after the company indicated that the British Columbia Securities Commission had challenged certain aspects of the company's latest resource estimate for the F2 Gold System of its Phoenix Gold Project.

The stock had previously rocketed higher by 36% after Rubicon released its long-awaited, first-ever resource estimate last November. That report outlined an inferred resource of 4 million ounces and enthralled investors with an extrapolated vision of the deposit's ultimate geological potential at between 13 million and 16 million ounces of gold.

After being called to task on specific parameters of the resource calculation methods employed, consultant Geoex Limited prepared an amended report that chopped 410,000 ounces from the inferred resource estimate (a reduction of 10%). Significantly, the amended estimate of 3.6 million contained ounces (uncapped) suffered no material deterioration of the estimated ore grade. The F2 deposit's awe-inspiring grades of more than 20 grams of gold per ton continue to rank the resource among the most economically attractive gold concentrations this Fool has ever encountered.

But here is where the hangover comes in. In the amended report released Thursday, the discussion regarding the F2 deposit's geological potential has been dialed back significantly. To be clear, this does not necessarily mean that Rubicon's F2 zone will never attain a scale of 13 million to 16 million ounces as envisioned in the initial report, but rather suggests that the British Columbia Securities Commission was only comfortable permitting Rubicon to extrapolate existing data to envision total geological potential of about 5 million to 9 million ounces of gold.

The volatile experience of Rubicon shareholders with the company's initial resource estimate for its cornerstone asset provides an opportunity to remain mindful that initial estimates like these seldom tell the full story of a project's potential. Additional exploration will continue on Rubicon's Red Lake properties to better define and expand the known deposit, and at several steps along the way, the company can be expected to deliver updated resource estimates that bring successive upgrades in both the scale of the deposit and the degree of confidence behind it. It bears mentioning further that Rubicon has already conducted 38,000 meters of successful exploration drilling since mid-2010 that were not included in the initial resource estimate.

Having reviewed every successive set of exploration drill results from the Phoenix project over the years, I remain resolutely confident in the exciting potential for further expansion of the known resource. That outlook led me to include Rubicon Minerals among my list of the top 10 gold and silver stocks for 2011. Similarly explosive organic growth potential also ensured that producers Gammon Gold (NYSE: GRS), Northgate Minerals (AMEX: NXG), and Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY) each made the list's top five. Rubicon is also a top 10 holding of the Global X Gold Explorers ETF (NYSE: GLDX), and deservedly so. I encourage Fools to target organic growth potential consistently within their mining industry investments and to remain steadfast in anticipating long-term share price appreciation from Rubicon Minerals.

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.

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