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Remotely controlled tipper trucks operate at a Rio Tinto iron ore mine in Western Australia.

HANDOUT/REUTERS

Given how dire the warnings have been, it's easy to assume that the mining industry is on death's doorstep. And some people truly believe it.

But believe it or not, there are some bright spots. Although the S&P/TSX's materials sub-index is down 13 per cent this year, a handful of stocks actually made sizable gains.

Since January 1, the two best returns in the materials sub-index are Agrium Inc, up 41 per cent, and West Fraser Timber, up 34 per cent.

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Those aren't exactly metals and mining names, but five of the top ten biggest gainers are. They include, ranging from best returns to lowest:

1. Harry Winston Diamonds
2. Franco-Nevada
3. Agnico-Eagle Mines
4. Pretium Resources
5. Lundin Mining

Harry Winston is up 25 per cent this year, while Lundin is up 15 per cent.

The numbers aren't as rosy if you judge performance from the materials peak at the end of February until now, but a few mining and metals companies still have positive performance. Agnico-Eagle is the standout with an 18 per cent return.

This isn't a defence of the entire industry, because clearly there are some serious problems. But the gains serve as a reminder that the whole thing shouldn't be written off.

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About the Author
Reporter and Streetwise columnist

Tim Kiladze is a business reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before crossing over to journalism, he worked in equity capital markets at National Bank Financial and in fixed-income sales and trading at RBC Dominion Securities. Tim graduated from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and also earned a Bachelor in Commerce in finance from McGill University. More

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