Economic analysis of royalty rate bidding for exploration rights

Harris, D. ; Osterberg, M.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2000
This paper examines the economics of acquiring mineral exploration rights by royalty-rate bidding when the royalty basis does not provide for full cost recovery. Bidding takes place prior to exploration and the documentation of actual tonnage and grade. Consequently, it increases considerably the risk to exploration capital when the fraction of cost recovered is small and the product price exhibits large fluctuations. Price and grade risk are demonstrated on a 360-Mt (400-million-st) porphyry copper deposit by Monte Carlo simulation of discounted-cash-flow analysis. Copper price is modeled as a stochastic price process, and costs are based on US Bureau of Mines cost models. When both grade and price risk are considered, the probability for a negative NPV is 0.54, given a royalty rate of 5% applied to a basis that allows the recovery of costs up to 50% of product price. Investment risk could be considerably reduced by defining the royalty basis to allow greater cost recovery. Although such a basis would require society to share in the risk, society would benefit from greater resource development.
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