May 28, 2022

Global Gold Production Set For Major Decline As South African Mines Close

Global gold production could drop sharply as South African miners plan to dismiss thousands of workers for illegally striking.  South African precious metal miners have been beset by labor unrest for months as workers protest low wages and dangerous working conditions.  The latest disruption came Wednesday as South Africa’s largest gold miner announced plans to dismiss about 12,000 workers.

South Africa’s biggest gold miner by output, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., said Wednesday it will begin a process to dismiss about 12,000 workers, following in the footsteps of other mining companies desperate to end crippling strikes.

If AngloGold follows through on its threat, it means more than 35,000 mining workers at several companies have been dismissed for illegally striking in recent weeks. The mass firings have prompted criticism from unions and the government, but so far have not provoked a repeat of the violence that sparked national labor unrest in South Africa in August.

Several major South African gold and platinum producers are struggling to end weeks of wildcat strikes that have halted thousands of ounces of gold and platinum production and caused billions of rand in lost revenue.

Gold production problems in South Africa run deeper than merely resolving a labor/management dispute over low wages.  The cost and effort to mine gold has grown exponentially as the easy to reach grades of gold ore have been depleted.  Miners have had to dig much deeper to reach low grades of ore with a corresponding increase in extraction costs.  South Africa, once the leading country in gold production has dropped to fifth place.

Courtesy wikipedia.com

In 2006, South Africa produced 272,128 kilograms of gold, but by 2011 output had plunged by 30% to only 190,000 kilograms.  With workers no longer willing to work for what amount to slave labor wages, along with declining ore reserves, gold output from South African mines will continue to decline dramatically.  SBG Securities analyst David Davis says “Almost all of the gold mines on strike are mature.  These mines were going to have to be restructured and downsized anyhow in the next 12 to 36 months.”

Further reductions in future global gold supply will continue based on the constantly increasing costs of mining lower grade ores and the lack of major new gold discoveries.  According to the US Geological Survey, gold production decreased in every year from 2001 to 2008, a remarkable statistic in light of the huge increase in gold prices during that period of time.  Gold sold for only around $300 per ounce in 2001 compared to today’s price of over $1,700 per ounce.

Over the past three years from 2009 to 2011, gold production increased as miners went all out to take advantage of surging gold prices.  According to the World Gold Council, mine production rose from 2,611 tonnes in 2009 to 2,822 tonnes in 2011.  The previous production peak for yearly gold production occurred in 2001 at 2,600 tonnes.  As the current situation in South Africa shows, much of the recent increase in gold production came as mining companies desperately worked old mines to depletion while paying workers as little as possible.   Those days are now over and South African gold production will continue to plummet.

Ironically, gold production soared from 1981 to 2000 as gold declined in price from $750 per ounce in 1981 to under $300 by the turn of the century.  Gold miners were forced to produce as much gold as possible to stay in business as revenues constantly declined due to the drop in the price of gold.

Absent major new discoveries of large gold deposits, gold mining production could decline substantially in future years.  Declining supplies, along with massive currency printing by central banks worldwide, will create the perfect storm for a continuation of the decade long bull market in gold.  Note to Ben Bernanke – no, you can’t print gold.

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.

Investor Gold Demand Hits All Time Record – China and India Grab 61% Of Total Gold Mine Production

Investor demand for gold during 2011 hit an all time high, fueled by soaring demand in China and India.  Total gold demand by China and India during 2011 amounted to a staggering 61% of all gold mine production last year.

The 2011 Gold Demand Trends report issued by the World Gold Council show a huge increase in gold demand and a small increase in global gold mine production.  This continues a trend that has been in place since 2001.  Despite an almost 600% increase in the price of gold since 2001, global gold mine production has increased by only 7.7%.

Typically, a large increase in price will bring forth additional supplies as producers rush to take advantage of higher prices.   This has not happened with gold due to the depletion of existing gold reserves and the inability of miners to discover and develop new gold deposits.  The continuing increase in gold demand and the lack of new supply will eventually result in gold prices higher than most people can imagine today.

Highlights of the Gold Demand Trends report are summarized below.

  1. For the first time ever, on a dollar basis, gold demand hit all time record highs at $205.5 billion, representing 4,067.1 tonnes of gold.
  2. Investor demand for gold hit all time record of 1,640.7 tonnes, up 5% from the previous year.
  3. Demand for gold by China soared 20% last year to 769.8 tonnes and demand by India, despite currency weakness, was 933.4 tonnes.  It is expected that China will become the largest gold market in the world during 2012 based on continued record setting demand.
  4. Global gold production increased by only 4% last year to 2,809.5 tonnes.  The combined gold demand of 1,703.2 tonnes by China and India consumed 60.6% of all new gold mine production.  It is projected that the supply of new gold will remained “restrained” for the foreseeable future.
  5. The desire to protect wealth accounted for surging gold demand in Europe as the European Central Bank engages in a massive money printing campaign to prop up the insolvent banking system.
  6. Central banks continued to buy gold during 2011, increasing total purchases to 440 tonnes, up by 77 tonnes from last year.
  7. The amount of gold available to meet demand is being restrained not only by low mine production but also by reduced supplies of gold from recycling.   Despite a 28% increase in gold prices last year, the supply of recycled gold declined by 2% to 1,611.9 tonnes.  According to the Gold Council, this implies that “market supplies are drying up and that consumers may be holding on to their gold in the expectation of higher prices.”
  8. Investors are showing a strong preference for physical gold as seen by the investment flows into bar and coin compared to ETF demand.   Demand for gold bar and coin during 2011 totaled 1,486.7 tonnes compared to ETF demand of only 154.0 tonnes.
  9. Gold demand by ETFs increased in the 2011 fourth quarter over the comparable period last year, but total demand during 2011 of 154.0 tonnes was far below ETF gold demand of 367.7 tonnes during 2010.

The Gold Council bullishly notes that the gold market is unique in that it is driven by a “diverse set of factors” and multiple sources of demand.

A Large Cap Gold Stock That Could Double In Price

Many small cap gold mining companies have seen significant price gains, while large cap gold stocks have underperformed.  With fundamentals driving the price of gold steadily higher, many large cap gold mining companies are perfectly positioned to see large earnings increases that will propel their stock prices higher.

One large cap gold mining company that could be on the verge of doubling in price over the next few years is Newmont Mining Corporation (NEM).   The stock has underperformed other large cap gold mining companies despite the fact that the company’s fundamentals have dramatically improved over the past few years.  The improved fundamentals, once recognized by the market, are likely to push Newmont’s stock price much higher.

Newmont Mining is one of the world’s largest gold producers with operations in Ghana, Indonesia, Nevada, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Canada and Mexico.  For the past three years, Newmont Mining has been positioning itself for future growth through financial and operational restructuring and is now poised for additional significant growth in revenue and profits.

Revenues have grown from $6.1 billion in 2008 to $9.5 billion for the year ending December 31, 2010.  During the past three years, gold production increased by only 3.7% from 5.2 million ounces in 2008 to 5.4 million ounces in 2010.  The majority of revenue increases over the past three years were driven by increased gold prices, but Newmont is forecasting an increase in gold production of 35% over the next six years to 7 million ounces annually.  The combination of increased gold production and higher gold prices could result in explosive earnings growth.

Newmont Mining has proven and probable gold reserves of 93.5 million ounces, equivalent to $285 per share.   Newmont is also a major copper producer with proven and probable reserves of 9.4 billion pounds, equivalent to 19.1 pounds per share.   The value of copper reserves is worth approximately $78 per share.   In 2010, Newmont produced 327 million pounds of copper.

Gold reserves are expected to increase based on the Company’s global portfolio and continual exploration efforts.

The Company paid shareholders a cash dividend of $0.50 per share in 2010 and expects to increase this by $0.20 per share for every $100 increase in the price of gold.

Newmont Mining has an extremely strong balance sheet with $5.6 billion in cash at year end 2010.   According to the Company’s annual report, Newmont offers investors the “best per-share gold-price leverage in the industry.  Every $100 increase in gold price translates into approximately $350 in additional after-tax operating cash flows, or approximately $0.70 per share.  We deliver better gold price leverage than any of our competitors.”

Newmont Mining’s stock price of $53.44 at today’s close is actually lower than five years ago when it traded at about $55 in early July 2006.

 

NEWMONT MINING - COURTESY YAHOO FINANCE

Newmont Mining trades at a low price earnings ratio of 12 and pays a 1.5% annual dividend.  Based on the Company’s recent results and bright prospects for future revenue and profit growth, it is only a matter of time before investors drive the stock price higher.  Many other major gold producers have price earnings ratios in the low 20’s or higher.  If Newmont Mining sold at a PE ratio in the low 20’s, the stock’s price would be over $100 per share.

Brazilian Gold Mine Robbed

It seems that the current interest in physically backed gold is not limited to investment markets. Last week, it was  reported that a British Colombian gold firm was the victim of an armed robbery. The company in question was the Luna Gold Corp, and their Aurizona Mine in Brazil was attacked early Wednesday morning. The robbery did not result in any employee injuries, but approximately 1,500 ounces–$2 million worth—of gold were successful stolen.

The Target

The Luna Gold Corp identifies itself as a “gold mining and exploration company engaged in the exploration and development of gold deposits and advanced stage gold exploration projects in Brazil.” Currently, their attention is focused on the site that was robbed—the Aurizona gold mine. This mine is only in its initial stages of production and the company anticipates an eventual annual production of 60,000 ounces a year.

The surrounding areas are believed to be home to other major gold deposits as well, but that is highly speculative at the moment. Unfortunately, the mine is also relatively isolated—located as it is between the two cities of Sao Luis and Belem in Maranhao state.

The Fallout

That isolation rendered the facility vulnerable to the robbers, who gained access to the site and escaped without being caught. More importantly, they escaped without harming anyone.

The company’s statement touched upon this and other fallout from the event, saying “The safety and welfare of our employees is our highest priority and we will ensure that those involved receive appropriate support and counseling. Theft in this manner is disturbing and regrettable. The company is co-operating with authorities and will update the market when information becomes available.”

As for the loss, Luna Gold Corp will be filing a claim with insurance while the Maranhao Police continue to investigate the incident.

How to Value Gold, Gold Mine Output, Gold Coin Minting

An array of recent gold related articles to ponder as the price of the metal dips to $874 per ounce.

Gold Revisited

How do you value gold? Here’s a very thoughtful answer to the question based on a ratio of gold to the global economy and global asset base.

Gold mine output in 2008 lowest in 12 years

As the output from gold mines has declined, the total cash costs have expanded. The average increase was almost 20% against 2007.

Gold coin minting hits 40%

Interesting to consider in light of the previous article. While gold output has declined, gold coin minting has increased by 40%. Other gold investment options such as bars and ETFs have also drawn an increasing amount of gold.

GATA Renews Requests to Treasury, Fed for Gold Data

Will President Obama’s call for greater opnness in government, result in teh reveleation of information related to the U.S. gold reserves?

Accumulate Silver Soon

The Got Gold Report takes a look at positioning by the largest silver players amidst increasingly tight supplies. The holdings of GLD and SLV remain steady, even as the prices of the metals pull back.

And something to reflect on from the opening paragraph, “as governments continued to find new ways to “fix” major economic problems caused by excessive borrowing with much more, ridiculously excessive borrowing, relaxing accounting standards and now even using the U.S. government’s printing press to “buy” its own treasuries (diluting all dollars in the process) … while those seeds of inflation and eventual debasement of all fiat currencies wound up – gold and silver continued to correct lower. “