Metal prices are central to a mineral investment decision and have a profound impact on the financial performance of companies in the mining industry. At its most basic level, metal prices are influenced by the disequilibrium between international metal volume supply and demand. That is, the commodity price is a regulator that equates international metal supply and demand where inventories act as a buffer between the emergence of this disequilibrium and its dissolution through a price change.
From this viewpoint, mining companies are required to forecast metal and bulk commodity prices when evaluating minerals projects through discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. While supply-demand models are instructive, many companies use historical prices, spot prices, futures/forward pricing and consensus opinion (or a combination of all of these) to develop price forecasts.
This paper discusses the definition, fundamentals and differences between futures/forward and consensus pricing and the appropriateness of each in a DCF model for mine project economic evaluation.
Our results demonstrate that great care is required when using either futures/forward or consensus pricing and that the decision to use one rather than the other requires consideration of other important elements in the DCF model (ie the risk-adjusted discount rate).
Martinez Tipe, L A, McKibben, J and Barry, S, 2016. Metal prices and the differences between forward and consensus pricing – which one is better for use in a discounted cash flow model?, in Proceedings Project Evaluation 2016, pp 149–158 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).