A long-suffering ETF following junior gold miner stocks is outperforming its large-cap peers after breaking above a resistance trend line.

Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDXJ) is down more than 20% the past three months to trade near its lowest levels since early 2010.

However, it has a smaller year-to-date loss than Market Vectors Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDX), which invests in large-cap stocks in the sector. GDXJ was in positive territory Tuesday while GDX was in the red.

Gold miners have been in steady decline since the beginning of 2011, with some claiming the rise of bullion-backed ETFs has curbed investor demand for the sector.

For example, Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners was down 40.5% for the year ended April 30, according to Morningstar.