India’s bank gets the wobbles

India and goldStill stuck in the tramlines, gold $1550-1600/oz. Ironically, as a Euro peace deal was brokered, gold flipped up $30/oz on the week, most of it on Friday. Anything for the weekend sir? Platinum is getting used to being at a discount. Its surplus the result of the double whammy of over eager production hitting, the European auto buying downturn. Silver has had its run. Our money is still on a general subsiding of gold prices towards $1400, with a decisive break below $1550 being indicative. A trick being missed by many is that gold is mostly bought by individuals, particularly of the oriental persuasion.

If they are feeling the pinch economically and are running short of readies how can they buy gold? Since there is no sign of the US dollar capitulating or the Yuan replacing it, what price gold?

Australia’s gold output fell for the 3rd running quarter. In Q1 this year it saw 62t, a 5% drop on the previous quarter. Many reasons are citied, including weather, lower ore grades and mill maintenance. So no economy-related panics. Yet.

The Midas touch. The USA will not easily surrender its position as No 2 gold producer (285t, 11% world). Shaping up is Midas Gold (MAX.TO C$ 2.40; Hi-Lo C$4.90-2.45) with the Golden Meadows project in Idaho. The indicated resource has topped 4Moz at 1.68Moz of inferred at 1.6g/t in oxides and sulphides. To this it adds 2.89Moz of inferred at 1.6g/t. In the three deposits there is also indicated silver and antimony. A scoping study is pencilled in for Q3. Details a little sketchy but an initial open pit is indicated and perhaps 350,000oz/yr (10 tonnes).

India’s Reserve Bank is permanently worried that locals can’t stop buying gold. Were it any other luxury you could draw a straight line between GDP and purchases but not with Indians and gold. Imports of the metal hit the import-export balance and we now have all sorts of derivates springing forth, like ETFs and selling coins over the counter. The Reserve Bank wants to stop this, but the local banks see it as a bolt-on profit centre and charge a modest 3% commission. The authorities have a fight on their hands. They are rightly concerned that the rupee has depreciated 30% against the dollar since August 2011 and see halting coin sales as an aid to reversing this. There will be much fun if they drive this trade underground.

Archipelago Resources (AIM: ARL 51p Hi-Lo 79p-49p) is in gold production at its Toka Tindung Mine in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. It is targeting 160,000oz/yr (5t) over the next 6 years. It also has exploration projects in Vietnam and the Philippines. Shareholders (52% PT Rajawali Corp) include Black Rock and JP Morgan.

Major Mints see gold coin sales fall. The more prolific mints, US, Canada and Australia all saw bullion coin sales fall in Q1 2012, year-on-year, by at least a third. Canada’s Maple Leaf was the biggest faller, at 46%. Ever optimistic, the mints say they expect a better H2 2012.

The platinum miners continue to lick the opposite of their lips as they recognise the only short-term solution to the surplus of the metal is to slow production. Platinum Australia (ASX) has called a halt to share trading and has had safety-related stoppages at its Smokey Hills operation in South Africa. It looks ominous.

Royal Bafokeng Platinum (RB Plats) is being objective about its Styldrift Project in RSA, where it hopes to double output to 600,000oz/yr. It needs R7.9bn ($940M) to fund its 67% share. Rightly terrified at tapping the market now, it hopes to use funds generated from its operating mine, Rasimone (BRPM). Amplats (Anglo American Platinum) has the other 33%.

They think they may not have to come to market before 2014. Let’s hope the market has improved by then.

About David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves

David Hargreaves is a mining engineer with over forty years of senior experience in the industry. After qualifying in coal mining he worked in the iron ore mines of Quebec and Northwest Ontario before diversifying into other bulk minerals including bauxite. He was Head of Research for stockbrokers James Capel in London from 1974 to 1977 and voted Mining Analyst of the year on three successive occasions.

Since forming his own metals broking and research company in 1977, he has successfully promoted and been a director of several public companies. He currently writes “The Week in Mining”, an incisive review of world mining events, for stockbrokers WH Ireland. David’s research pays particular attention to steel via the iron ore and coal supply industries. He is a Chartered Mining Engineer, Fellow of the Geological Society and the Institute of Mining, Minerals and Materials, and a Member of the Royal Institution. His textbook, “The World Index of Resources and Population” accurately predicted the exponential rise in demand for steel industry products.

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