June 20, 2024

The Downside to Rising Gold Prices

Investors in gold have reason to cheer as gold prices rise but there is a definite downside to increased prices. Impoverished populations that lack the basics of human comfort have no choice except to mine gold regardless of the environmental consequences.

Although large gold miners do not use mercury, small mines frequently use mercury in the separation and recovery of gold from ore extracts. Besides the danger of handling mercury and breathing the vapors, vast environmental damage is being done in the process of gold recovery, as documented by Bloomberg.

Lax supervision and outright support of informal mining by Brazilian authorities were behind a 46% jump in Yanomami land degradation last year in the form of deforestation and contamination of water and soil, according to a report released Monday.

Artisanal miners known as garimpo have wrecked 3,272 hectares (8,085 acres), with the size of the area doubling since 2018, according to the latest edition of “Yanomami Under Attack,” which is prepared by community groups with support by Brazilian conservation group Instituto Socioambiental. Their presence is also introducing more disease, weapons and alcohol.

The Yanomami are facing a second big gold rush since the 1980s, with an estimated 20,000 illegal miners inside an area of forest that straddles Brazil and Venezuela. The growing threat to remote Amazon communities comes as the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro plans to allow mining on indigenous lands in a bill that’s even opposed by large mining companies. As lawmakers prepare to vote, about 7,000 indigenous people are camped out in the nation’s capital in protest.

This situation seems to be beyond the control of local governments and like many other world problems are insurmountable.

For God’s Sake, Put Biden Back in the Basement

Here we go again. President Biden’s penchant for making erroneous, creepy, and discombobulated off the cuff remarks seems to have eliminated any chance of a negotiated cease fire in Ukraine.  Biden, speaking publicly in Poland, stated that President Putin must be ousted from office.  This position slams the door on a diplomatic approach with a country that has been historically paranoid about Western bad intentions towards Russia.

Although the White Houe press staff quickly tried to walk back the bumbling Biden’s remarks, it remains highly doubtful that President Putin will dismiss the remark as a slip of an addled brain.  As noted in Business Insider, the ill-considered remark only seems to reinforce the view of many that top Washington officials want the war to continue to for political purposes.

Richard Haass, a veteran diplomat and president of the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Post that Biden’s remarks don’t achieve the priorities of “ending the war on terms Ukraine can accept, and discouraging any escalation by Putin.”

“It discourages Putin from any compromise essentially — if you’ve got everything to lose, it frees him up. Why should he show any restraint?” Haass added. “And it confirms his worst fears, which is that this is what the United States seeks his ouster and systemic change.”

Haass said that while the White House immediately walked back those comments, the fact that Biden’s comments were off the cuff “could be read as Biden’s genuine belief as opposed to his scripted words.”

Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told the Post the remarks make him concerned that top officials in Biden’s administration may not be thinking about ways to end the war.

“If they were, Biden’s head wouldn’t be in a place where he’s saying, ‘Putin must go.’

The situation in Ukraine becomes even more dangerous when considering previous unhinged remarks by Biden calling President Putin a “war criminal” and a “butcher”.  Name calling – seriously? We need diplomacy and negotiation – not remarks that only further inflame what is now only a local conflict.  Considering the increasingly aggressive rhetoric it is not now unreasonable to fear that Biden will sleepwalk us into a nuclear Armageddon that puts mankind back into the stone age.

nuclear explosion GIF

Biden’s mental status has been questioned many times by many people.  The problem has become so alarming that the Wall Street Journal actually said The President Should Avoid Public Speaking on important matters.

Some issues are just too important to be left to an unscripted Joe Biden…But these are dangerous times and we would all be much safer if Mr. Biden would make greater use of prepared statements on subjects such as, for example, weapons of mass destruction.

Yes, it’s important for all of us to be able to hear from our elected officials and to assess the content of their remarks as well as the skill and conviction with which they advocate for their policies. But this particular elected official does not appear to be up to the task. While we consider the implications, Mr. Biden should try to say as little as possible in public during an international crisis.

The bubbling crisis in Eastern Europe is just one more reason to increase gold and silver holdings. If you don’t own precious metals, buy them now.  If you own them, buy more.



Soaring Gold and Silver Prices Should Not Be a Surprise to Anyone

bars-of-goldThe precious metal markets caught on fire in a big way today.  Gold prices surged the most in nine months by over $40 per ounce and silver closed in on $21 per ounce.  After losing 28% last year as short term hot money investors sold out their holdings, gold and silver were ready for a huge rally from both a fundamental and technical standpoint (see Why Gold and Silver Could Outperform Every Other Asset Class in 2014).

Precious Metals June 19, 2014

GOLD $1319.00 +40.50 3.17%
SILVER $20.89 +0.88 4.45%
PLATINUM $1472.00 +24.00 1.66%
PALLADIUM $841.00 +12.00 1.46%

The reasons for today’s huge gains in precious metals varied in the mainstream press but soaring prices should have been no surprise to long term investors who understand why gold and silver should be a part of every portfolio.

Gold and silver constitute a fundamental defense for wealth preservation against the rapidly eroding value of paper currencies backed by broke governments which is Why All Governments Hate Gold.

The various governments of the world and their central banks produce and distribute a product – paper currencies. Those currencies are backed by confidence, faith, and credit, but not by gold, oil, or anything real. Those currencies are digitally printed to excess, since almost all governments spend more than their revenues. The UK, Japan, and the USA are prime examples.

Politicians want to spend more money, but they also need to maintain the illusion that the money is still valuable, that it will retain most of its purchasing power over time, and that inflation is under control. The illusion weakens when food, gasoline prices, and other consumer goods are wildly rising in price. At a more abstract level, gold indicates the same lack of confidence in the printed pieces of paper that our central banks distribute.

If last year’s price correction shattered your conviction in owning gold and silver please consider The Fundamental Reasons for Owning Gold and Silver Are Stronger Than Ever.

One of the best methods for protecting wealth against a constantly depreciating paper currency is to own precious metals.

The bull case for precious metals remains intact as central bankers worldwide have become the lenders of last resort for nations that have exhausted their borrowing capacities.  Very little has changed since 2008 when the world financial system stood at the abyss of collapse.  Unsustainable debt levels continue to increase even as the capacity to service the debt diminishes.

Virtually every government in the world has taken on debts and liabilities that are clearly unsustainable.  Governments “don’t go broke” is the sustaining mantra for those with faith in paper currencies but governments do and will continue to print money that accelerates the loss of purchasing power of fiat currencies.  Please consider the following charts courtesy of John Mauldin Economics.

Eventually, as people realize that the central bank emperors have no clothes it will become clear Why There is No Upside Limit for Gold and Silver Prices.

The increase in the value of gold and silver is due to the fiscal and monetary policies of nations struggling to deal with massive levels of debt – policies that virtually guarantee a continued rise in the price of gold and silver.  Central banks, having exhausted all conventional means of monetary easing, have moved on to the last resort option of quantitative easing and currency debasement.

Government officials argue that unprecedented deficit spending and quantitative easing are necessary to stimulate economic  growth, but this theory has not worked in the real world.  Despite trillions in stimulus spending,  job creation and economic growth have been extremely weak and are likely to remain so according to economists Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart who wrote This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.  According to Rogoff and Reinhart, economic growth is subpar when public sector debt exceeds 90% of GPD which the U.S. and many other developed nations have already surpassed.  In addition, a recovery of the job and housing markets after a financial crisis take many years due to the burden of excessive levels of debt.  Ultimately, Rogoff and Reinhart predict that austerity measures will need to be imposed along with some type of debt restructuring.

Is the U.S. capable of reducing spending and  instituting austerity measures? Cutting deficits means cutting payments to a long list of incomeless recipients who really don’t care where the entitlement money comes from.  Those still actually paying taxes will object strongly to any proposed tax increase to fund government spending.  Unable to cut spending or raise taxes leaves the Government with one bad option – print more money.

Politicians, who value getting elected above all else, are likely to strong arm the reliably compliant Federal Reserve to “come to the rescue” again with additional printed dollars.   In the minds of politicians and Federal Reserve officials, there will always be very compelling reasons to continue borrowing and money printing.

A nation that has reached the limits on taxation and borrowing has few viable policy options other than a continuing series of quantitative easing programs.  Current government policies, if left unchanged, virtually guarantee a continued increase in the price of precious metals.


Gold Mining Industry Becomes Attractive To Capital Markets

By Vin Maru

Over the past summer we suggested that we would see more money become available to quality mining projects from banks sitting on tons of cash ready to loan out on credit worthy projects in their ever increasing need for higher yield. In our September 11th, 2012 blog post we stated that “Project funding will become available via bank loans on favourable projects; we can expect alot of money coming into the resource space and new projects will move towards production”.

Here is an exerpt from the TDV Golden Trader newsletter sent out to subscribers on July 23, 2012:

I suspect alot of that money will come into the commodities market and especially into the mining sector. There are many great projects which show great preliminary economic studies with today’s current prices of commodities. Banks can provide the funds necessary to help put projects into production by way of corporate bonds or loans with higher interest rates. Even with a 7-10 % rate, many of these projects are very economical, provide a positive IRR and have short payback period (3-5 years). Potential producers should really look at this option for funding their projects, the interest rates are reasonable and this would eliminate the need for further dilution.

It is also in the bankers’ best interest in making these loans to the various development projects for many reasons. First, they will be making a much higher positive yield over the next 3-5 years than most other fixed income investments. They can probably become first in line as a creditor guaranteeing their investment and using the company assets and reserves to help determine valuations as possible collateral. Also, their funds are probably safer at a cash flow positive producing mine versus buying bonds of a pig country that can only make interest payment by robbing Peter to pay Paul. In their need to make secure investments, banks can also guarantee their payments will not be interrupted by keeping a floor under the commodities prices. This floor price can be achieved by forcing the producer to hedge part of their production at current prices, thus guaranteeing a predictable minimum future cash flow.

Lately we have seen more debt offerings, issuance of debentures and credit being given to mining companies who can prove strong economics on new projects or expansion to current mining operations. Here are few examples from the last few months:

Stornoway Diamond Corp. (TSX:SWY) has entered into a mandate letter with seven financial institutions concerning debt financing for the company’s Renard diamond project in northern Quebec. The mandated lead arrangers are Bank of Montreal, Caterpillar Financial, Export Development Canada, Investissement Quebec, Nedbank Capital Limited (London Branch), Societe Generale (Canada Branch) and The Bank of Nova Scotia which will arrange senior loans of up to $475 million, the company says.

Lake Shore Gold Corp. (“Lake Shore Gold” or the “Company”) (TSX:LSG)(NYSE MKT:LSG)  announced today that the Company has completed the previously announced public offering (the “Offering”), on a “bought deal” basis, of C$90 million principal amount of 6.25% convertible senior unsecured debentures (the “Debentures”) maturing on September 30, 2017.

Kirkland Lake Gold Announces $50 Million Private Placement of Convertible Debentures – The Debentures will mature on June 30, 2017 (the “Maturity Date”), unless earlier redeemed, and will bear interest, accruing, calculated and payable semi-annually in arrears on June 30 and December 31 of each year, at a rate of 6.0%. 

While the quality juniors have been able to raise capital in the last year, most are still finding it difficult to raise funds. In the past, small producers and exploration companies relied on the capital markets to raise funds by way of private placement and issuing shares which have been highly dilutive and overall negative for investors in these companies. We have a feeling that many juniors will be able to raise capital in this market, but they will have to be creative in their approach to getting funding deals done without diluting shareholders.

Private Sector Enters the Gold Mining Industry

However, the nature and investing climate for the mining sector has changed recently. We are now seeing investment funding and credit becoming available to mining companies from the private sector. Cluff Gold (TSX:CFG) a West Africa focused gold mining company recently announced a strategic alliance with Samsung C&T Corporation where Samsung will provide an unhedged US$20M facility to Cluff Gold in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU also provides a framework for the potential long term funding of Cluff’s Baomahun project and other development opportunities.

In my opinion, Samsung, being a visionary in the electronics industry, has realized it needs to make strategic investments with its cash in order to protect purchasing power and secure availability of gold and silver to be used in its products. This is a game changer and as fiat paper currencies get destroyed by the central banks and governments, the smart money will continue to gravitate towards gold, the true store of wealth. This could be the start of a new trend where private sector corporations start paying attention to gold as currency and hedge against paper assets. I would expect this trend to continue as more private companies and fund manager will find a need to diversify out of paper money and into the currency of last resort: gold. While it may be difficult for these companies and institution to buy the physical metal on the open market, the smart money will go right to the source and get invested where profits can be maximised, which means going to the miners.

We are in next phase of this bull market in precious metals, and gold and silver will continue to move higher now that printing money to infinity has become official policy. It will be the miners who are still undervalued and have growth potential that will really benefit from this next round of QE and rising gold prices. Expect to hear more stories about investments coming to the mining sector and as this trend grows, so will the attention being paid to the minors. While the ETFs may be a good way to trade the price of metals rising, the leverage and exponential gains will be made with selecting the right mining company. The next leg of this bull market will benefit the miners and they could easily outperform the gold price over the next few years, this is where we see the real gains to be made.

I will be speaking at the Cambridge House Toronto Resource Investment Conference on September 27 and 28, 2012. You may register here to attend the show. I will be presenting a 30 minute workshop on Friday the 28th at 4:00 pm on “Trading Opportunities: Looking for Catalysts and Developing Strategies to Trade Precious Metals Shares”. On Thursday morning I will also be a panel speaker alongside Bill Murphy, Chris Powell, and Jay Taylor discussing gold’s diminishing supply and increasing demand.

If you enjoyed reading this article and are interested in protecting your wealth with precious metals, you can receive our free blog by visiting TDV Golden Trader.

Platinum To Gold Ratio Plunges – Is This A Buy Signal Or A New Metric?

Platinum is one of the rarest earth elements with the vast majority of deposits found in only one place on earth.  Annual platinum production is only 30 tonnes per year compared to approximately 2,800 tonnes for gold and 23,000 tonnes for silver.

Roughly 80% of annual platinum production comes from only three mines in South Africa.  Siberia and other geographically scattered locations provide the balance of annual platinum production.

Investment demand for platinum constitutes only 10% of annual demand .  Since 90% of platinum demand comes from jewelry and industrial users, the price of platinum can be very volatile.  During an economic downturn,car sales plunge and jewelry is a very discretionary purchase.  During the 2008 financial meltdown, platinum plunged by nearly two thirds of its value compared to a drop of only one third in the price of gold.


Platinum - courtesy kitco.com

The ongoing economic turmoil in Europe has contributed to a large drop in the price of platinum.   Last year, platinum declined from $1,887 in August to $1,354 at 2011 year end, a drop of $533 per ounce.  Although platinum has recovered to $1,609, it is considerably undervalued  when viewed through the lens of the platinum to gold ratio.  A platinum to gold ratio below 1.0 is historically a signal that platinum is selling at a bargain price.  The platinum to gold ratio is currently at .95, a level not seen since 1986.


Long term ratio - courtesy http://profitimes.com


Platinum to gold ratio - courtesy stockcharts.com

Has the long term historical significance of the platinum to gold ratio lost its relevance?  If the world plunges into a deflationary depression, platinum may wind up becoming a much greater bargain at a later date.  The more likely scenario is that a new pricing metric is not being established and that the multi-decade low in the platinum to gold ratio is a major buy signal for platinum.

The central banks of the world have made it abundantly clear that they will print and inflate their way out of the debt crisis.  Ownership of a precious metal such as platinum is one method of maintaining a store of value against depreciating currencies.

Numismatic versions of the platinum coin can be purchased by investors directly from the U.S. Mint.  The 2011 Proof Platinum Eagle has been available since May 26, 2011 with a maximum mintage of 15,000 pieces.  The current price to purchase the 2011 American Eagle one ounce platinum proof coin from the U.S. Mint is $1,892.00 with no order limit.  No sales tax is charged on the purchase and a credit card can be used to pay for the coins.

According to coinupdate.com, the United State Mint may bring back the American Platinum Eagle bullion coins.  The U.S. Mint has not minted the bullion versions of the platinum coin since 2008.  Production of the American Platinum Eagle is not required by law, as is the case for the American gold and silver eagles.  Production of the platinum coins are at the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury.  The 2008 and earlier bullion version of the one ounce American Platinum Eagle coins are available from coin dealers and are currently priced at around $1,860 each.

Societe Generale Favors Gold and Silver Against Farm Commodities

At a recent media briefing, Societe Generale made their predictions for the next year’s commodities prices. Though gold has been in record territory and some are concerned that the price is peaking, they predict that it will continue to be a strong investment.

Fredric Lasserre, head of commodities research, commented “We might see some gold-price rally again because of the recent fears regarding sovereign debt, and also the impact it may have on the dollar-euro.” According to the bank’s predictions, gold could advance 11% in the next year. Palladium could advance 21% and silver could advance 19%.

Societe Generale contrasted these predictions with those of other commodities, particularly farm products. The bank cited supply shocks when it stated that most farm commodities don’t seem to have much upside potential at the moment. Their prices have recently rallied, but are not expected to do so again, unlike those of precious metals.

This year precious metals performance has been led by palladium, which has advanced 75%, followed by silver, up 64%, and gold, which has advanced 24%.

Soc Gen’s statements have been echoed by other banks who have also backing been gold and silver investment for the coming year. They recommend that consumers remain overweight in precious metals, stating that they are some of the safest long positions. This confidence appears to be supported by the recent behavior of the market.

Gold Currency Status, GATA Interview, Gold and Silver Prices

A selection of recent articles on gold and silver from across the internet:

Gold reclaims its currency status as the global system unravelsTelegraph.co.uk

“Central banks of Russia, the Philippines, Kazakhstan and Venezuela have been buying gold, and Saudi Arabia’s monetary authority has ‘restated’ its reserves upwards from 143m to 323m tonnes. If there is any theme to the bullion rush, it is fear that the global currency system is unravelling. Or, put another way, gold itself is reclaiming its historic role as the ultimate safe haven and benchmark currency.”

The story that’s GATA be told Motley Fool

An interview with Bill Murphy, co-founder of the Cold Antitrust Action Committee (GATA).

“What’s important for your readership to understand is that the markets have been made dysfunctional by U.S. policy and what these bullion banks are doing. Even Alan Greenspan said recently that interest rates were left too low for too long. Had the gold price been allowed to trade freely, interest rates wouldn’t have been able to stay down as low as they were. It would have been a warning sign for people not to get involved in the behavior that they did … not to go with all of the risks that developed. And there’s a good likelihood that the disaster would have been nowhere near as bad as it was.

“Alan Greenspan called gold a “thermometer.” So they diffused the thermometer by keeping the gold price managed. And what’s important for people to understand now is that the same thing is going on. If we’re correct, it’s going to lead to a bigger catastrophe, because no one has learned any lessons.”

Silver may advance to $23Bloomberg Businessweek

Silver is called a cheap alternative to gold. The current gold/silver ratio is compared to historical levels.

“An ounce of gold for immediate delivery bought about 65.81 ounces of silver today, compared with the 2008 low of 47.55 ounces and the decade average of 61.99 ounces.”

Five reasons to expect gold and silver prices to be suppressed this weekCoin Update

After reaching an all time high price Monday morning, the price of gold has already dropped by about $30 and silver is down more than $1.

“There are more reasons than usual why the US government would want gold and silver prices to be in the dumps this week…”

Perth Mint “Mini Roo” Half Gram Gold Coin

I suppose it’s natural that escalating gold prices would lead to smaller sized gold coin offerings. As the price has increased, standard sized gold bullion offerings grow more expensive, and perhaps out of reach for some smaller scale investments.

The Perth Mint recently introduced a half gram gold coin called the “Mini Roo.” This is a miniature version of their popular Gold Kangaroo, which is also offered in weight ranging from one-tenth ounce to one kilo.

The diminutive coin features a newly designed bounding kangaroo and carries a legal tender face value of 2 Australian Dollars. The coins have a diameter of 11.60 mm, thickness of 0.70 mm, and contain 99.99% pure gold.

One half gram of gold works out to 0.016 troy ounces of gold. At today’s gold price, the intrinsic value of the Mini Roo is $19.60. The Perth Mint’s website shows the coins priced at US $38.18 each. This is actually only slightly cheaper than the pricing for one gram gold bars, but a manufacturing premium is to be expected for coins over bars.

US Mint Still Moving 2009 Gold Eagle Bullion Coins

It’s nearly the end of February, and the United States Mint is still trying to push the remaining inventory of 2009-dated gold bullion coins out the door.

Sales of this year’s 2010 American Gold Eagles began on January 19, 2010. This was later than typical because the United States Mint made the decision to continue producing the 2009-dated coins into the end of the year. This in turn, delayed the start of production for the newly dated coins and the first available sales date.

When sales of the 2010 Gold Eagles finally began, the US Mint had a remaining inventory of 51,000 of the 2009 Gold Eagles.

Once the calendar turns over, most buyers prefer the newly dated coins. In order to make sure they could get rid of the left over inventory, the US Mint required authorized purchasers to take one 2009-dated coin for every three 2010-dated coins that they ordered.

Sales data indicates that the US Mint has probably now moved through about 40,000 of the old dated coins, leaving about 10,000 more to go. Rather than force feeding these bullion coins to authorized purchasers, the precious metals blanks could have served much better use making some of the canceled 2009 offerings that collectors were clamoring for.

Precious Metals Investment Tax Rates

Gains from the sale of investments in precious metals are currently subject to a tax rate of 28%. This compares to the current long term capital gains rate of 15%, which applies to other investment classes such as stocks and bonds. A bill has been introduced which seeks to tax precious metals investors at the same preferential rates afforded to other investors.

Precious metals investments are considered “collectibles” under the current tax code. Gold, silver, and other precious metals are lumped into the same classification as works of art, rugs, antiques, and stamps. The tax rate for “collectibles gains” is currently 28% regardless of whether the assets were held for more than one year.

The classification as collectibles comes from the section of the Tax Code which describes the capital gains tax rates which apply to different asset classes. This section references a definition of collectibles found in another section of the code, which interestingly provides an exception for certain precious metals. This exception is curiously disregarded for the purposes of capital gains taxation.

The bill S. 1367 Fair Treatment for Precious Metals Investors Act seeks to rectify the disadvantageous tax rates imposed on precious metals investors. The bill would amend the Tax Code to preserve the exception created for certain coins and bullion. After the amendment, common precious metals investments such as American Eagle bullion coins would no longer be classified as “collectibles” and would be eligible for lower long term capital gains rates.

In order to become law, the bill would need to be approved in the House of Representatives, the Senate, and signed by the President. A similar bill was introduced in 2007, but it never gained the support necessary to become law. You can following the progress of the current bill on GovTrack.