Think gold may lose some luster? Eric Sprott sees a silver lining


By Tim Kiladze
The Globe and Mail, Toronto
Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eric Sprott, the perennial gold enthusiast, has his sights set on a new precious metal.

Mr. Sprott's charitable organization, The Sprott Foundation, is selling two million units of its gold holdings and using the money to buy silver.

The move comes as gold veers close to US$1,800 per ounce, and less than a week after Mr. Sprott had declared the metal "the investment of the last decade" in an interview with GoldMoney Foundation. "I think silver is going to be the investment of this decade."

Since the commodity boom kicked into high gear last fall, Mr. Sprott has been touting silver's merits. To demonstrate his conviction, he set up and invested his own money in the exchange-traded Sprott Physical Silver Trust, which buys silver bullion and stores it at the Royal Canadian Mint. Investors in the trust can cash in their units or take delivery of silver in physical form if they wish.
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Sona Drills 85.4g Gold/Ton Over 4 Metres at Elizabeth Gold Deposit,
Extending the Mineralization of the Southwest Vein on the Property

Company Press Release, October 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sona Resources Corp. reports on five drillling holes in the third round of assay results from the recently completed drill program at its 100 percent-owned Elizabeth Gold Deposit Property in the Lillooet Mining District of southern British Columbia. Highlights from the diamond drilling include:

-- Hole E10-66 intersected 17.4g gold/ton over 1.54 metres.

-- Hole E10-67 intersected 96.4g gold/ton over 2.5 metres, including one assay interval of 383g of gold/ton over 0.5 metres.

-- Hole E10-69 intersected 85.4g gold/ton over 4.03 metres, including one assay interval of 230g gold/ton over 1 metre.

Four drill holes, E10-66 to E10-69, targeted the southwestern end of the Southwest Vein, and three of the holes have expanded the mineralized zone in that direction. The Southwest Vein gold mineralization has now been intersected over a strike length of 325 metres, with the deepest hole drilled less than 200 metres from surface.

"The assay results from the Southwest Zone quartz vein continue to be extremely positive," says John P. Thompson, Sona's president and CEO. "We are expanding the Southwest Vein, and this high-grade gold mineralization remains wide open down dip and along strike to the southwest."

For the company's full press release, please visit:

He also launched a Silver Bullion Fund that enables investors to speculate on the metal's market price but without the physical redemption option.

Until Wednesday, though, Mr. Sprott was still committed to gold, as its price rose to new highs. It could be that he is simply cashing in on a rapid rise in the price of Sprott Physical Gold Trust, which are up 21 per cent since July 1, and of which he personally holds six million units, separate from the foundation's holdings.

On Wednesday, Mr. Sprott said his comment about silver does not mean he is abandoning gold altogether. "Anything I said about it being the resource of the last decade was not to suggest that it wasn't going to do well this decade," he said. "It's just I think silver will do better."

He bases that conviction on supply constraints: The amount of gold already mined is about 100 times greater than silver, yet for each dollar invested in gold, another dollar is currently being invested in silver. "By definition, you can't keep buying it at 1-to-1 and have the price stay the same" when the supplies are so different, he said.

Moreover, the price of gold is trading about 45 times the price of silver. Historically, the ratio has been about 16 times and Mr. Sprott thinks the two metals will move back in line with that ratio.

But not all silver assets are on equal footing. Mr. Sprott has been selling some of his own units in the Physical Silver Trust. In the past month, Sprott-related funds have sold about $23 million of his Silver Trust units, and this spring they sold $34 million. Mr. Sprott said he is simply taking advantage of the trust unit's 20-percent premium to the fund's net asset value. (The premium has shot up since the fund was introduced last fall because of heavy retail demand, which means investors are paying more than the underlying metal's value per unit.) He is reinvesting the proceeds in other silver investments, including the Silver Bullion Fund.

Asked if investors in the Physical Silver Trust should be alarmed that he's cashing in, Mr. Sprott said, "Anybody can do it any time they want to," and added that his sales are "all in the public domain," because he must report them to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He also doesn't apologize for shifting more of his attention to silver, and is still touting his gold trust to retail investors who think economic turmoil will send bullion prices higher. "I think silver will outperform gold this decade, so why wouldn't I position myself, position our accounts, that way?"

Although the foundation announced that it would reinvest its money in the silver sector, it is interesting that it did not specifically say where it would invest, either in Sprott Physical Silver Trust or the metal itself. But if you look at Sprott's recent selling activity, it's clear that money will go into the metal. In the past month or so, Sprott has sold about $23 million of the Silver Trust units. That comes on the heels of sales this spring worth about $34 million of the trust's units.

The sales have been pointed out by blogger "kid dynamite." While he acknowledges that Sprott is reinvesting the money back into silver, he points out that the Silver Physical Trust currently trades at about a 20 percent premium to the net asset value. By exiting, Sprott captures that premium and then buys the metal at fair value.

Buying the metal ties back to Mr. Sprott's recent comments about being bullish on silver. In the GoldMoney interview, he pointed out that the physical amount of gold above ground is about 100 times greater than silver, yet people are buying the two metals on a 1-to-1 basis. That means the price of silver has to go up, he argues.

Plus, gold is trading at about 45 times the price of silver. Historically, the ratio has been about 16 times and Mr. Sprott thinks we will get back in line with that number.

But he isn't sure of the timing. "When it actually happens, I don't know," he said in the interview.

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Lewis E. Lehrman on How to Solve the U.S. Debt Problem

Lewis E. Lehrman, chairman of the Lehrman Institute, sponsor of The Gold Standard Now project, advises that to reduce the $1 1/2 trillion U.S. deficit, the Republican Party must initiate an investment program.

Working Americans are not saving, which enables the banks to lead the country into a cycle of debt, leverage, boom, panic, and bust.
Lehrman says: Eliminating the budget deficit of a trillion and a half dollars cannot be done overnight. The proposal by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan was very dramatic -- one Republican called it radical -- but it was not happily received. The solution, of course, is to design an American program for prosperity, because you can solve these entitlement problems with a growing economy. We need a tremendous program of investment, and investment comes from savings. When you pay savers, middle-income professionals, and working people 0 percent at the bank, you are not going to encourage them to save. Then we are left with a bank cycle of debt, leverage, boom, panic, and bust."

To read more and to sign up for The Gold Standard Now's free, noncommercial, weekly report, "Prosperity through Gold," please visit: