|Bid||19.10 x 800|
|Ask||19.21 x 3100|
|Day's range||18.03 - 19.13|
|52-week range||11.65 - 22.57|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.08|
|PE ratio (TTM)||8.43|
|Forward dividend & yield||0.28 (1.42%)|
|Ex-dividend date||26 Feb 2020|
|1y target est||21.35|
(Bloomberg) -- A miserable end to 2019 is turning into a gloomy start to 2020 for some of Canada’s biggest exporters.Business leaders waved good riddance to last year after global trade tensions and a railway strike stymied business and exports. Economic growth in the fourth quarter is expected to be a measly 0.3% on an annualized basis when data is released on Friday, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg.While a tentative trade deal between China and the U.S. had boosted optimism, that is fading amid the coronavirus contagion and more disruptions on the country’s rails, this time from protesters opposed to a natural gas pipeline:Corporate executives are only beginning to get a handle on the damage, and much will depend on how quickly the virus can be brought under control so that normal trade and travel can resume. Here are thoughts so far from Canadian companies doing business overseas.Nutrien Ltd.Chuck Magro, chief executive officer of the world’s largest supplier of crop nutrients, is watching the impact of the coronavirus “hour by hour.” The biggest effects so far have been on potash, he said.“We believe that the contract negotiations will move now from the first quarter to the second quarter and that’s simply because most of the buying committee, large organizations are working from home,” he said at an industry conference Wednesday. “Our sales organizations in China are working from home. They’re not meeting.”Potash is stuck at its China port because the supply chain is down, he said.“Just a couple of days ago the Chinese government authorized for the first time in five years the use of strategic reserves in potash. We interpret that as an indication that China is worried they don’t have enough potash for the spring season.”In the long run, that will be good for the potash industry as reserves will need to be restored, he said. Agriculture is not correlated to economic growth, he added. “The old adage that people need to eat still holds.”Teck Resources Ltd.Bad weather, blockades, and the virus created “the perfect storm” for the Vancouver-based producer of coal, copper and zinc and Canada’s largest railway customer, CEO Don Lindsay said.“Commodity prices were negatively impacted by global economic uncertainty in 2019. This has continued into 2020,” he told analysts on Feb. 21. “There were some signs of improvement in December and early January with an agreement on a U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal but then the coronavirus emerged and the full impact of the virus is still unknown.”Before the virus, Lindsay said, the company’s plan was to sell at least one asset this year, possibly using the capital for share buybacks. “With coronavirus still prevailing, I think most people are going to...wait and see how that shakes out. It’s still unknown what the long-term effect is, not just the disease itself,” he said.The miner’s shares are down 39% this year.Lululemon Athletica Inc.Most of Lululemon’s 38 stores in China remain closed since first shutting down due to the virus on Feb. 3., though some are coming back on a reduced schedule, CEO Calvin McDonald said.“The safety of our people is our highest priority, and we are adjusting store operations based upon the recommendations of local authorities,” McDonald said in a statement on Feb. 21.The Vancouver-based company’s $1 billion international sales opportunity is being led by China, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. “China’s performance- and sports-inspired apparel market is worth almost $87 billion, and management aims to connect with 400 million active millennials,” analysts Poonam Goyal and Abigail Gilmartin said in a report.McDonald said he remained confident in the long-term opportunities in China. The company will provide an update on the impact in its earnings report for the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Feb. 2. That call is expected next month.Lobster Council of CanadaThe number of cargo planes flying into Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Moncton, New Brunswick, to be loaded with lobster bound for China has dwindled, said Geoff Irvine, executive director of the industry group. While the airports would typically see about nine charter flights a week, that has dropped to one a week in the past month, he said.China has become Canada’s second-biggest export market for live, processed and frozen lobster next to the U.S. While February is typically a slower month for sales, lobster companies are storing the additional unsold inventory or sending it to be processed, Irvine said.“The Chinese in general are not going out to eat so they’re not consuming lobster in restaurants,” Irvine said by phone. “That’s hopefully going to change as they go back to work and the quarantines end.”Canada shipped more than C$450 million ($337 million) worth of live lobster to China in 2019, according to Statistics Canada data.Barrick Gold Corp.Barrick is benefiting from its experience with highly contagious diseases such as Ebola to help it deal with the coronavirus, CEO Mark Bristow said in comments following a Bloomberg TV interview at a conference Feb. 24.In addition to expanding its health checks across the entire organization, Barrick is increasing supplies of raw materials such as cyanide and cement at its mines, Bristow said. The company will have three to four months worth of those “consumables” on hand, compared with the one-and-a-half months it normally keeps, he said.“The thing about these epidemics is that you have to respond before they hit you,” Bristow said. “We have an emergency action plan.”\--With assistance from Danielle Bochove.To contact the reporters on this story: Jacqueline Thorpe in Toronto at email@example.com;Jen Skerritt in Winnipeg at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Derek Decloet at email@example.com, Divya BaljiFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- A combination of hefty dividends and contracting output is turning the world’s second-largest miner into the poster child for a $1.5 trillion industry’s growth quandary.Rio Tinto Group announced a record $3.7 billion final dividend Wednesday, adding to $11.9 billion of cash returns already paid in 2019. Yet it produced less iron ore, copper and aluminum, leaving market prices to lift underlying earnings by 18%. Rio’s Pilbara operations stumbled early in the year. Its Mongolian copper mine, a key source of future production and the basis of a greener portfolio, is now not only sorely overdue and over-budget, but also tangled in international tax arbitration. The $86 billion mining giant isn’t alone. High dividend yields and pedestrian output have begun to define resources heavyweights that used to be known for the exact opposite. Diversified groups relied on their varied sources of cash to expand, but large-scale opportunities are scarcer than ever, and portfolios look far less diverse too, once coal and other less appealing assets have been carved off. At Rio, iron ore now accounts for three-quarters of its underlying Ebitda.For investors, it hasn’t been all bad news. Since Chief Executive Officer Jean-Sebastien Jacques took the helm in 2016, Rio’s total return including reinvested dividends adds up to an impressive 112%, outpacing most rivals.Yet much of that is due to generous payouts. For a company that digs stuff up for a living, this may not be sustainable — especially for one that aims to build a portfolio better aligned with a carbon-light global economy. It may also be an indication of just how hard it is to change. Rio paid shareholders in 2019 more than double its capital expenditure budget for the same year.One priority has been copper. Under Jacques, head of that unit until he became CEO, Rio has said it wants to add more of the red metal as its existing mines age, and will look at other green ingredients, those for rechargeable batteries and the like. Yet a unit set up to consider just such deals hasn’t sealed a single one despite considering more than 200 opportunities, and the company has suffered blow after blow in Mongolia. Its Oyu Tolgoi mine in the South Gobi accounts for only a fraction of Rio’s value today, but could dictate the company’s fortunes. So far, it’s mostly an unhelpful headache. The mine, which Rio holds through Canada-listed Turquoise Hill Resources Ltd., is one of the largest copper deposits around, and could produce an annual 550,000 metric tons of copper, almost as much as Rio produced last year, plus 450,000 ounces of gold. In the parlance of big miners, it moves the needle.Unfortunately, it also encapsulates everything that makes such projects so challenging: tough geography, messy local politics and complex geology. The cost of the largest, underground, portion has swelled to as much as $7.2 billion, and could rise again when a final estimate is published later in 2020. First production may now be be 30 months later than predicted. Fears of a cash call have dragged down Turquoise Hill shares.In the latest development, Rio announced last week it would begin arbitration proceedings to solve a tax dispute. Few arbitration deals yield significant victories — ask Barrick Gold Corp. and Antofagasta Plc, which won a $5.8 billion ruling against Pakistan last year — and they tend to irk host governments, so it’s a worrying sign. The risk is that Oyu Tolgoi becomes Rio Tinto’s own version of Freeport-McMoRan Inc.’s Indonesian pride and joy, Grasberg – wonderful in theory, nearly impossible in practice.Rio won’t drop Mongolia, and not just because of Jacques’ own attachment to the project. A copper option, however long-dated, is valuable, even if the company doesn’t yet jump in to buy out Turquoise Hill minority shareholders.But what then? Rio has manageable debt and ample cash — $9.2 billion in free cash flow in 2019, the highest level in almost a decade — and deals look cheaper as shares in copper-heavy Freeport and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. have roughly halved since 2018. Perhaps, though, not cheap enough to warrant wrestling with Freeport’s U.S. liabilities or First Quantum’s Zambian operations.Rio isn’t shrinking quite yet. It has exploration projects, and iron-ore production already did better in the second half, albeit still short of the company’s ultimate target. Yet with Oyu Tolgoi mired in arbitration and geological complexities, and the economy swiftly shifting, it might be time for Rio to consider just how creative it can get.To contact the author of this story: Clara Ferreira Marques at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- As gold prices rise, miners have been boosting shareholder payouts in the face of a decline in global output. That’s worrying some investors concerned about the longterm growth prospects of an industry built on a depleting resource.The value of gold, a haven commodity, is driven more by global economics than supply and demand. It’s soaring toward $1,700 an ounce now on fear the coronavirus will harm growth. Any unexpected event -- from a surprising cure for the virus to a positive trade deal -- could drop the value significantly. High prices put more gold scrap on the market, low ones boost hoarding and, if miner output remains static, so should profits.Increasingly, investors are split between their wish for higher dividends in the short run and the need to assure company stability over the long term. Finding the “best of both worlds” in allocating the rising cash pile is key for the future of the industry, according to Josh Wolfson, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.“Miners in general are exposed to significant external factors that are out of their control,” said Simon Jaeger, a portfolio manager at Flossbach von Storch AG, a top-10 investor in both Newmont Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp. “It’s certainly a reason for not paying too much in dividends,” he said. “You want to have the cash buffer on your balance sheet in order to be financially flexible when prices get worse.”Gold prices are currently at a seven-year high as concerns mount that the coronavirus outbreak in Asia will derail global growth. In a sign that the virus is already starting to dent the world’s largest economy, business activity in the U.S. shrank in February for the first time since 2013.On Monday, spot gold was up 2.3% to $1,680.38 an ounce at 7:25 a.m. in New York.Gold producers are “gushing cash,” said John Hathaway, senior portfolio manager at Sprott Asset Management, in support of the higher dividends. “They are in a position to raise their dividend,” he said. “And there will be boardroom pressure and shareholder pressure to do that.”The industry has been blasted in the past for underspending on production, overspending on acquisitions and piling up debt. Now, though, after years of fat-trimming, miners and their investors are well-positioned to gain from the higher prices. That’s allowed companies including Barrick and Newmont to boost free-cash flow and, to varying degrees, reward shareholders.Earlier this month, though, Mark Bristow, Barrick’s chief executive officer, sent a warning shot across the bow of the industry. Even if all current projects work out, he said, gold supply will still fall 30% globally by 2029. While sinking supply would be bullish for bullion prices, margins and revenues could be hit if companies are forced to mine lower-grade or hard-to-access deposits.The divide between whether to push profits or new production has become more focused this year.Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. offers a case in point of how closely investors are watching the issue. Despite boosting its dividend 14% and forecasting rising production through 2022, Agnico’s shares were punished after it cut its 2020 output guidance earlier this month. In an interview after the results, CEO Sean Boyd argued that dividend increases are important not just as a way of sharing the benefits of higher gold prices, but also because it demonstrates a company’s ability to maintain capital discipline.Success in the changing shareholder landscape is “going to be from the better gold-mining businesses being able to attract new generalist money,” Boyd said by telephone.‘Endless Pit’Steve Land, portfolio manager for the Franklin Gold and Precious Metals Fund, believes the next step for miners is to show the sector is “not just this endless pit of having to pour more and more money in all the time.” The trend toward higher dividends is a way of rebuilding trust and confidence, according to Land. These companies can also take the time to assess future projects, he said, but should be “in no rush to push things forward.”Newmont, meanwhile, seems to be seeking to meet a “best of both worlds” scenario.In January, Newmont said it planned to hike its dividend by 79% to $1 per share annually, effective in April, while maintaining production for the next five years. On Thursday, Chief Financial Officer Nancy Buese said the U.S.-based miner was considering “other shareholder friendly actions” it might take.One key consideration “will be to determine our appropriate level of dividend on a go-forward and sustainable basis,” she said.Barrick, meanwhile, announced a 40% dividend hike to 7 cents a share earlier this month. As it sells assets and tackles its debt, the Canada-based miner is hoping to attract generalist investors to its stock. But it also lowered its five-year production guidance and is reevaluating its portfolio mix.Generally, it appears the high-dividend strategy is helping lift gold equities. A Bloomberg Intelligence index of senior gold producers lagged the performance of gold futures for most of the past decade. But in the past 12 months, the gold group is killing it, rising 57% compared with 24% for gold.“If a company has genuine productive opportunities to invest capital in their business at high return, that is always going to be preferable versus paying a dividend,” said RBC’s Wolfson by phone. “But companies which can demonstrate overall discipline by allocating capital effectively -- plus paying out cash flow to shareholders -- I think will ultimately accomplish the best of both worlds.”\--With assistance from Maria Elena Vizcaino and Yvonne Yue Li.To contact the reporters on this story: Justina Vasquez in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Danielle Bochove in Toronto at email@example.com;Steven Frank in Toronto at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at email@example.com, Reg Gale, Joe RyanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
One of the major approvals for Barrick's (GOLD) stake sale include the formal waiver by Senegal Government to buy additional 25% interest in Massawa at market value.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Bullion prices are at their highest in seven years, closing in on $1,600 an ounce. Gold held by exchange-traded funds is at all-time records and rising, thanks to worries over the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus outbreak. Reserves, meanwhile, are depleting. It’s a heady mixture for miners, but perhaps not yet an intoxicating one.Take Polyus PJSC, Russia’s largest gold digger. The $17 billion company said last week that it would pay down debt before beginning to spend seriously on its $2.5 billion Sukhoi Log project, set to add 1.6 million ounces a year to supply. That’s quite a statement. This is one of the world’s lowest-cost producers, generating plenty of cash, holding one of most impressive untapped resources globally, at a time of rising prices. The mine promises significant extra output for a company that aims to produce 2.8 million ounces this year. Even so, Polyus is resisting the urge to fast-track, with a roughly two-year “transitional period” of planning before it begins in 2023.Granted, there are circumstances peculiar to Polyus that suggest conservative timing and financing is necessary. The miner is controlled by the son of Suleiman Kerimov, one of a handful of tycoons included in Washington’s 2018 sanctions list. A planned $900 million equity sale to Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group fell apart earlier that year, too. The project itself, meanwhile, is vast, and deep inside Russia, hardly a popular jurisdiction with foreign mining investors.Polyus’s conservative approach is noteworthy, nonetheless. This is an industry that has in general become far more cautious with big-bang projects after a string of boom-time efforts a decade ago, begun in haste and regretted at leisure. Barrick Gold Corp.’s Pascua Lama in South America started in 2000 as a $1.2 billion project; by the time it was shelved in 2013, the estimated cost had soared to $8.5 billion. Polyus learned its own lessons at its Natalka mine. It was trapped by falling prices in 2013 and construction eventually paused, before resuming in 2016. Certainly Sukhoi Log, first studied by Soviet geologists in the 1970s, comes with history and plenty of challenges. The size, at some 63 million ounces and as much of a quarter of Russia’s gold reserves, means it is the largest project on the industry’s horizon, by some way. For Polyus, it adds the equivalent of the annual output of its nearest rival, Polymetal International Plc. That gargantuan scale that leaves plenty of room for costs to spill over. There is processing to resolve, all on site, and transport logistics will be complex given the mine’s location. When I visited in 2012, the airport in the nearest settlement closed if it rained.But the geology isn’t unfamiliar to Polyus, already operating nearby. It will use conventional processing. And the miner’s overall expenses are low by global standards. Its all-in sustaining cost was $594 per ounce in 2019, against Barrick’s $894. That’s a substantial margin even if bullion prices sink to the $1,050 used in Polyus’s Sukhoi Log calculations. It’s all a far cry from the mood of the 2000s bull run, when gold shot up to $1,900 an ounce from $300 in just over a decade, and miners raced behind. The resulting value destruction was immense: Billions were spent on terrible projects and worse companies. A full 80% of the transaction value of the eight largest deals between 2001 and 2011 was impaired, according to a McKinsey & Co. study published last year. The industry’s return on capital between 2010 and 2016 was a pathetic 2.6%.With the gold price trending higher after a couple of years around $1,200 to $1,300, deals have come back, and cashflows are helping exploration budgets rise. It’s notable that M&A discussions are beginning to build in prices closer to $1,500 than the $1,200 or so of recent years. It’s exuberance that hasn’t quite fed through to mega projects.Polyus’s muddy knoll in bleak eastern Siberia has enough gold beneath it to rival behemoths like Grasberg, in Indonesia. As prices climb and buccaneering projects like Newcrest Mining Ltd. and Harmony Gold Mining Co.’s Wafi-Golpu in Papua New Guinea are back in discussion, the question is whether Polyus sets a trend, or becomes the judicious exception. To contact the author of this story: Clara Ferreira Marques at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Asset sales and higher gold prices are creating short-term benefits for Barrick Gold Corp., and raising longer-term questions.The world’s second-largest gold producer will exceed its two-year goal of selling $1.5 billion in assets by the end of 2020, Chief Executive Officer Mark Bristow said in an interview.Those sales -- along with a strong tailwind from higher gold prices -- allowed the company to boost its dividend once again, while cutting debt. However, shedding assets also shrank the miner’s production profile, causing it to lower its five-year guidance and think seriously about whether it should add more copper to its portfolio.“My issue is, what does the our company look like in 10 years time?” Bristow said, following the release of the miner’s fourth-quarter earnings. “If you’re going to be a major player, you need to have copper in your portfolio.”Barrick announced its initial asset-sales target in the wake of its $5.4 billion acquisition of Randgold Resources Ltd. last year. The Toronto-based global miner sold a number of assets in 2019 including its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie mine in Western Australia.“We’re going to beat it,” Bristow said Wednesday of the $1.5 billion target. “We still have some work to tidy up the portfolio.” The company has roughly $450 million in sales to go to reach the $1.5 billion mark, but expects to sell more than that this year, he said.The sales -- part of the company’s focus on “tier one” assets -- have forced Barrick to narrow its five-year annual production range to 4.8 million to 5.2 million ounces. As recently as November, the company was predicting a range of 5.1 million to 5.6 million ounces, based on its portfolio at the time. The miner is forecasting a 30% drop in global gold supply by 2029.Barrick plans to release 10-year production guidance at its annual general meeting -- which is scheduled for May 5 -- and is thinking hard about whether it should increase its copper holdings, Bristow said.“We would invest in copper where it comes with gold, or we would invest in copper where we feel that we have a strategic advantage to outperform the big copper-focused companies,” he said. Barrick’s internal hurdle for copper investments is a 15% real rate return, he said.In December, Bristow floated the possibility that Barrick could one day pursue a merger with Freeport-McMoRan Inc., the largest publicly traded copper producer, or make a play for some of its assets. On Wednesday, Bristow said the idea is just at a conceptual stage but has triggered “an interesting debate.” There are no plans “to run out there and do something” right now, he stressed. “I don’t do hostile things lightly. This is a complicated situation.”Barrick shares slipped 0.2% to close at $18.41 in New York on Wednesday, paring its gain in the past year to 38%.With help from asset sales, the company still has the potential to reach zero net debt this year, he reiterated. That would mark a dramatic turnaround for a miner that saw debt swell after its last major foray into copper in 2011, with the disastrous top-of-the-cycle acquisition of Equinox Minerals Ltd.The impact of falling global gold production on miners is being mitigated by higher prices. Spot gold averaged about $1,483 an ounce in the fourth quarter, 21% more than a year earlier, and the haven metal has extended gains this year as the coronavirus weighs on expectations for economic growth.Higher cash flows allowed Barrick to boost its quarterly dividend by 40% as it reported adjusted earnings of 17 cents a share for the fourth quarter, beating the highest analyst estimate. That followed a 25% dividend hike in the third quarter.To contact the reporter on this story: Danielle Bochove in Toronto at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Luzi Ann Javier at email@example.com, Steven Frank, Reg GaleFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Barrick Gold (GOLD) delivered earnings and revenue surprises of 21.43% and 0.84%, respectively, for the quarter ended December 2019. Do the numbers hold clues to what lies ahead for the stock?
Shanta Gold on Monday said it had acquired Barrick subsidiary Acacia Exploration's project in southwestern Kenya in a $14.5 million deal which gives the Tanzania-focused miner its first asset outside the country. The project, which Acacia Mining began exploring in 2010 before being bought out by Barrick, is estimated to hold 1.18 million ounces of gold with a grade of 12.6 grams per tonne. Shanta bought the project for $7 million in cash and $7.5 million in shares issued to Barrick, making the Canadian miner Shanta's fifth largest shareholder with a 6.4% stake.
With gold prices witnessing the highest fourth quarter average in six years, we have handpicked three gold mining stocks that are poised to deliver earnings beat in their upcoming quarterly results.
Barrick Gold (GOLD) possesses the right combination of the two key ingredients for a likely earnings beat in its upcoming report. Get prepared with the key expectations.
BHP's Escondida, the world's largest copper mine, said on Tuesday it had dropped plans to continue drawing water from the Atacama salt flat, relieving pressure on the parched desert basin, home to top lithium miners SQM and Albemarle. BHP has long pumped water from Atacama's aquifers to feed operations at its sprawling Escondida mine. The global miner said in a statement Tuesday it would now substitute its pumping from Atacama with desalinated water from its coastal Chilean plants.
Generally speaking the aim of active stock picking is to find companies that provide returns that are superior to the...
South African miner Gold Fields Ltd has hired investment bank RBC Capital Markets to explore the sale of a 30% stake in its gold project in northern Chile, two sources said. The gold sector has seen two multi-billion dollar takeovers over the last 18 months and bankers and investors say a buoyant gold market could drive further activity. Gold Fields received environmental approval for the construction of Salares Norte, a mine high in the Andes mountains, in December, and said it would decide whether to go ahead in the first half of 2020 as it needs $834 million in funds.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Peak gold production is looking a little more distant. Global supply of the yellow metal has been inexorably approaching its high-water mark, as ore is extracted faster than new discoveries are made. Mines have been aging fast. A sustained price rally can change that picture, as investors rekindle their enthusiasm for large-scale exploration and technological innovation. Bullion miners’ margins will benefit.Gold is coming out of a long period in the investor wilderness. Last year marked the biggest annual gain in prices since 2010. It broke through $1,570 last week — the highest in almost seven years. Gold prices are driven by factors that aren’t always predictable, but there’s certainly scope to go higher, with interest rates low and geopolitical tensions simmering. Holdings of gold in exchange-traded funds, popular with retail investors, are near 2012’s lofty levels. Central banks remain buyers too.This isn’t a repeat of 2011, when gold cracked a gravity-defying $1,900 per ounce — at least, not yet. The all-time high remains some way off, despite a handful of analysts already pointing to $2,000 gold. But the impact of higher prices is already trickling down. All-in sustaining cash costs remained at around $934 per ounce for the largest producers in the third quarter of 2019, according to Bloomberg estimates. The industry measure, though rising, makes for healthy margins. Barrick Gold Corp., for example, reported third-quarter free cash flow of $502 million, compared to $55 million in the previous three months.Last year’s flurry of M&A speaks to that exuberance: from Barrick Gold’s merger with Randgold Resources Ltd., completed that January, to Goldcorp Inc.’s union with Newmont Corp., plus a string of opportunistic offers among smaller companies, and imaginative deals like Barrick’s Nevada joint venture with Newmont. Overall, 2019 marked a return to levels last seen during the boom.There’s more to come, especially among smaller players. Diverging levels of bullishness, after years of homogenous forecasts, will create opportunities for miners to expand portfolios.But the deal spike tells a supply story too, and those numbers are grim even after miners pair up, with reserves down steadily for much of the past decade. The average life of a gold mine shrank to 11 years by 2018 from 16 in 2012, according to consulting company Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Back in 2015, as prices fell toward $1,000 an ounce, the World Gold Council warned that the industry was nearing “peak gold,” after which output would begin to decline. That’s still a threat.Tie-ups are no panacea. The trouble is there’s no short-term link between gold prices and supply. Sure, marginal projects become viable, but that’s a transient boost. Also, the lag effect means mines commissioned in boom years will still take years to come into production. Meanwhile, the scars of the 2011 excesses will make miners reluctant to change their assumptions for the long-term gold price, which are largely still at or below $1,300.The good news is that this works both ways. Higher supply, through exploration or innovation, also won’t depress prices.That should increase enthusiasm for exploration. Budgets have shrunk and success rates have been decreasing, even if gold continues to command the lion’s share of the mining sector’s exploration outlays. So far, spending has increased largely on existing projects rather than new finds. Splashy budgets don’t guarantee success, but the supply numbers will have to rise. There are already signs of long-awaited projects accelerating, such as Polyus PJSC’s Sukhoi Log in Siberia. Then there is investment in technology. This isn’t only to automate and electrify fleets, but to upgrade exploration and processing techniques. For gold, processing improvements could make even complex, refractory ore — resistant to more common extraction methods — attractive. Barclays Plc estimated in December that innovation could add 10% of incremental supply growth through 2025. Cost per ounce may come down 4%. That’s a target worth aiming for. To contact the author of this story: Clara Ferreira Marques at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The company said it expects the joint venture - the world's biggest gold complex - to produce 585 million ounces of gold for the three months ended Dec. 31. Total preliminary gold production rose 14% to 1.44 million ounces from a year earlier, while analysts were expecting 1.40 million ounces of gold, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Nevada Gold Mines was formed last year after Barrick pulled its $18 billion hostile bid for Newmont Corp, the world's largest gold producer, and combined assets with the rival.
Barrick Gold Corp is set to elevate its troubled Papua New Guinea mine to its top-tier assets, despite landowner and government demands to cede a larger stake and deteriorating security at the joint venture with China's Zijin Mining . With a 20-year lease renewal application in the balance, Barrick has faced backlash from Papua New Guinea (PNG) landowners and residents. Critics say the Porgera mine has polluted the water supply and created other environmental and social problems, with minimal economic returns for locals.