Buying Mining Royalties: An In-Depth Guide

By Kirsteen Mackay


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Mining royalties offer an alternative investment, providing exposure to commodities without operational mining risks.

Gold Nugget in Stream.
how to buy mining royalties

In an age where financial diversification is more important than ever, mining royalties present an interesting alternative investment opportunity. Buying mining royalties is essentially acquiring the right to receive a portion of the revenue or production from a mining operation.

Though not widely recognized, the royalty model in the mining sector is an effective strategy that benefits mining companies, shareholders, and financiers alike. This model allows mining firms to confidently progress with their operations as it provides them with the necessary funding. In return, shareholders receive profits, while companies that offer the initial capital see enhanced returns. This creates a win-win situation for all parties involved in the mining sector, demonstrating the royalty system's brilliance. 

If you're curious about how to buy mining royalties, you're in the right place. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of this investment arena.

What are Mining Royalties?

Before we delve into how to buy mining royalties, it is essential to understand what they are. Mining royalties are payments made by miners to the owners of the land's mineral rights. These payments are typically a percentage of the gross or net value of the minerals extracted from the land and can provide a steady income stream.

What is a Royalty Company?

A royalty company is a specialized entity that provides upfront financing to mining companies in exchange for the right to a portion of the revenue or production from their mining operations. This portion is referred to as a 'royalty.'

The unique aspect of this model is that the royalty company does not involve itself in the direct operations or management of the mines. Instead, it focuses on acquiring and managing a portfolio of royalties. In doing so, royalty companies provide mining firms with the needed capital for their operations, while simultaneously offering investors an alternative avenue to gain exposure to the mining industry.

This exposure comes with potentially lower risk compared to direct mining investment, as royalty companies are insulated from operational risks and the cyclical nature of the mining industry. They also offer potential capital appreciation should the price of the underlying commodities increase.

What is the Difference Between Royalties and Streaming?

In the context of precious metals, royalties and streaming are two distinct forms of investment agreements that companies use to fund mining operations. Both offer a way for investors to gain exposure to the mining industry without undertaking the risks associated with actual mining operations.


In a royalty agreement, the investor (royalty company) provides upfront capital to a mining company. In return, the investor receives a percentage of the revenue generated from the sale of the mined metals over the life of the mine. The payment amount is tied directly to the top-line revenue of the mining operation, and it is usually not affected by the cost of production or capital expenses. Royalty agreements are generally simple and do not involve ongoing payments.


In a streaming agreement, the investor (streaming company) also provides upfront capital to a mining company. However, instead of receiving a percentage of revenue, the investor has the right to purchase a fixed amount of the mined metal at a predetermined price (often significantly below market price) for the life of the mine. The streaming company can then sell the metal at the current market price, making a profit from the difference. Streaming agreements typically involve ongoing payments for each ounce of metal delivered, which is different from the one-time payment structure of royalty agreements. 

While both methods provide upfront capital to mining companies and potential returns to investors, streaming agreements can offer a larger upside potential if the price of the precious metal increases significantly over time. However, streaming companies also take on more risk, as their profits depend on the cost of the metal and the market price at the time of sale. On the other hand, royalty companies enjoy a more stable income stream tied to the mining operation's revenue, regardless of fluctuating commodity prices or production costs.

Why Invest in Mining Royalties?

The allure of buying mining royalties is multifold. These investments can provide exposure to the commodities sector without the operational risks associated with mining companies. Royalty companies do not bear the costs of mine development or production, insulating them from the cyclical nature of the mining industry and potential downturns.

Moreover, they provide exposure to commodity price movements with the potential to make more money if the underlying commodity prices increase. Also, royalties often have a lifespan that matches the duration of a mine’s operation, which could span decades, thus providing a long-term, stable income stream.

How to Buy Mining Royalties? 

Investing in mining royalties generally happens in two ways:

Direct Purchase

Purchasing mining royalties directly involves buying the rights from the landowner or a mining company. This method typically requires substantial capital as you would buy an interest in the production or revenue from a mining operation.

The process involves identifying a potential royalty, conducting due diligence (including legal, technical, and financial assessment), negotiating terms, and then finalizing the agreement. This option may offer higher potential returns but also comes with higher risk and complexity, making it more suitable for sophisticated investors or companies specializing in such transactions.

Indirect Purchase via Royalty Companies

An easier and more common way to invest in mining royalties is by buying shares in companies that specialize in acquiring and managing a portfolio of mineral royalties. These companies, known as royalty or streaming companies, negotiate agreements with mining operators to buy a portion of their future production in return for upfront financing.

When investing in these companies, it's important to consider their portfolio diversification, the management team's expertise, and the underlying commodity prices. This method is more accessible to retail investors as it allows for smaller investment amounts and provides diversification.

Royalty and Streaming Gold Stocks

  • Franco-Nevada Corp (NYSE: FNV) is a resource royalty and investment company. The Company owns a diversified portfolio of precious and base metal royalties, oil and natural gas royalties, and other interests, including assets in production, under development or in the exploration phase mostly located in geopolitically secure countries.

  • Royal Gold Inc (NASDAQ: RGLD) is a precious metals stream and royalty company engaged in the acquisition and management of precious metal streams, royalties, and other similar production-based interests. The Company focuses on producing, development, evaluation, and exploration stage streams and royalties located in prolific gold regions.

  • Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (NYSE: WPM) operates as a precious metals streaming company. The Company focuses on gold and silver projects. Wheaton Precious Metals serves customers worldwide.

  • Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (NYSE: SAND) (TSX: SSL) is a Canadian company that provides funding to mining companies in exchange for royalties, principally in the form of net smelter returns and streams.

Franco-Nevada Corp (NYSE: FNV)

Franco-Nevada Corporation is a leading player in the mining industry, particularly known for its gold-focused royalty and streaming model. The company strategically invests in a wide variety of mining projects, providing essential funding to mining operations in exchange for a share of the revenue or production.

As Franco-Nevada does not directly operate mines, it effectively manages potential operational risks while benefiting from any rise in gold prices. This has allowed the company to generate revenue, even during challenging economic periods consistently. The firm's portfolio is primarily centered around gold but also includes other precious metals and natural resources, providing additional diversification.

Royal Gold Inc (NASDAQ: RGLD)

Royal Gold, Inc. is a prominent precious metals royalty and streaming company, offers investors exposure to gold, silver, and other valuable resources. They provide upfront funding to miners in return for a percentage of future production or revenues. Royal Gold has a comprehensive, global portfolio with interests in over 180 properties on several continents.

Unlike traditional mining firms, Royal Gold doesn't bear the costs and risks associated with mine operation and development. This unique position enables it to benefit from commodity price increases while mitigating the operational risks associated with mining, making it an attractive option for investors interested in the precious metals sector.

Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. (NYSE: WPM)

Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. is renowned for its unique approach to mining investment. The company employs a streaming model, providing necessary capital to mining companies for a percentage of future production or revenues. Wheaton's portfolio comprises high-quality mines, predominantly in gold, silver, and palladium, across stable jurisdictions worldwide.

This well-diversified approach, coupled with their operational risk insulation due to not owning or operating mines, has enabled Wheaton to consistently deliver value to its shareholders. As a streaming company, Wheaton benefits from increases in precious metals prices and mine expansions, thus providing a potential for both income and capital appreciation.

Sandstorm Gold Ltd. (NYSE: SAND) (TSX: SSL)

Sandstorm Gold Ltd. is a Canadian company renowned for providing funding to mining companies in exchange for royalties, primarily in the form of net smelter returns and streams. By offering mining companies upfront financing, Sandstorm secures rights to purchase a percentage of the production at a fixed price or receive a percentage of the mineral revenue.

The company's portfolio is diversified across a broad spectrum of commodities and geographic locations, enhancing its risk profile. Like other royalty and streaming companies, Sandstorm is not directly involved in mining operations, which shields it from associated operational risks. This business model provides investors with a less risky way to gain exposure to the commodities sector, offering potential capital appreciation if the underlying commodity prices rise.

What to Consider When Buying Mining Royalties?

Commodity Type and Price Volatility: The value of mining royalties is significantly affected by the price of the underlying commodity. Therefore, understanding the market dynamics of a particular mineral or metal is key.

Jurisdiction: The location of the mining operation matters. Political stability, tax rates, environmental regulations, and existing infrastructure can all impact the viability and profitability of a mining operation.

Operator Quality: The expertise and financial stability of the mining operator are critical. A poorly managed mine or a financially unstable operator can negatively affect the royalty's value.

Mine Life: Since royalties are often paid over the life of the mine, longer mine life usually means a longer period of potential royalty income.

Due Diligence: Whether you're buying directly or investing in a royalty company, comprehensive due diligence is crucial to understand the potential risks and rewards.

Buying mining royalties can offer a unique opportunity to gain exposure to the mining sector without some of the risks associated with direct mining operations. Whether you're buying royalties directly or investing in a royalty company, understanding the dynamics of the commodities market, the specific mining operation, and conducting thorough due diligence are key steps toward a successful investment. 

Our comprehensive guide to metals and mining provides an in-depth exploration of the industry, detailing its historical evolution and focusing on investment strategies. The guide aids in identifying potential opportunities and understanding associated risks in this complex sector. Thus, this knowledge-rich resource empowers you to make well-informed investment decisions in the ever-changing metals and mining industry.

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This article does not provide any financial advice and is not a recommendation to deal in any securities or product. Investments may fall in value and an investor may lose some or all of their investment. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance.

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