GLD Rising. Is this the move we’ve been waiting for?

Updated version of an article published on sharpspixley.com on Monday.  To read original article click here

In a post a few weeks ago we suggested monitoring inflows or outflows of gold into or out of the big SPDR Gold Shares gold ETF (GLD) as a way of judging big money sentiment on gold (See: Watch GLD for gold price guidance) and for a corresponding gold price direction. And, after a series of consistent gold withdrawals from the ETF, this does seem as if it may have turned around sharply last week at almost exactly the same time as the big fall in the equities markets commenced. Last Tuesday, for example, 8.82 tonnes of gold were added into GLD – the first increase since July – and after a couple of days of zero movement in the ETF, another 5.65 tonnes of gold were added into it on Thursday. the additions continued over the weekend with a further 4.12 tonnes added.  These are not insignificant amounts. 18.59  tonnes of gold is equivalent to around the annual production of the world’s 32nd largest gold producer last year – and this amount was added only over a 6-day period. This week’s continuing GLD figures will thus be particularly worth watching to see if the build-up continues – and if it does watch out!

Many observers have suggested that for a sustained increase in the gold price this would be accompanied by a significant downwards correction in the general equities markets which are seen by many as overbought, with such a correction perhaps overdue and inevitable. But beware of a really big downward move in equities should this happen, as some commentators suggest. Such an occurrence could bring precious metals down in price too as happened in 2008. The prospect of this may have lightened somewhat in comparison with the last big downturn as many institutions are out of any substantial precious metal holdings given they have been somewhat out of favour as an investable asset in the past several months. And even if they do drop in price alongside equities they will likely recover far faster – as in 2008/2009.

Today has seen a bit of a pick-up in equities in most markets, although gold has pretty well held on to its gains.  What is too early to tell though is whether today’s equity recovery is a shortlived bounce, or a start of the continuation of the bull market in general equities.  It’s perhaps worth reading the transcript of the Stephen Leeb interview published on this site a day or so ago.  Despite a slightly rambling interview, Leeb is one of the smartest guys around and he reckons that if this recent move in equities is not the start of the long-awaited crash, the latter is not far ahead.  We shall see in  the next few days.

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Is this the turning point for gold and silver?

Here follows a lightly edited and updated version of an article I published on the info.sharpspixley.com website earlier today.  (To read original article click here)

We wrote here recently about the short term headwinds facing gold and the longer term positives, but some of the short term negatives seemed as if they fell away at a single swoop yesterday!  Could the 800 point fall in the Dow be the start of the much predicted equities collapse?  Indeed the Dow and the S&P 500 were both down around 3% on the day and the NASDAQ down a massive 4%.  These falls have been mirrored by big falls in general equities in Asia and Australia, and this morning in Europe. The equities sell-off has continued today, but not, so far, as severely as yesterday.

As perhaps another indicator,  yesterday a massive 273,851 ounces of gold were added to the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) – that’s over 8.5 tonnes and is the first positive movement of gold into GLD for nearly 3 months, and a very sizeable amount to boot.  We have stated here before that one should watch GLD additions or withdrawals as a guide to institutional sentiment towards gold and since April we have mostly seen withdrawals – an enormous 141 tonnes of gold had been taken out from GLD from end-April until yesterday.  Again could this be a turning point for gold?  One day’s figures are perhaps not a sufficient indicator of what’s to come, but are a  and it is essential to monitor this indicator as a guide to precious metals sentiment.

Today we have seen a big rally in the gold price which has hit its highest level since the beginning of August, up over 2% at its intra day peak so far today.  Silver has seen a slightly stronger increase too, but not enough yet to see it break out from its correlation with the gold price.  But investor interest has been strong as witness the high level of silver Eagle sales out of the U.S. Mint.  It has the potential to outperform gold should the rallies in both metals continue.

As always commentators’ views are mixed on the likely effect of yesterday’s falls in equities valuations.  Some see them as a buying opportunity in an ongoing bull market pointing to a similar fall in February from which the major indexes made a fairly rapid recovery.  All eyes will be on the Dow and the S&P over the next few days to see if the falls will continue, or if there will be a bounce back.

We are entering a time where Fed tightening by raising interest rates may well be making markets nervous.  President Trump has been quick to lay the blame for yesterday’s fall on the Fed’s policy of raising interest rates thus leading to a stronger dollar (which has adversely affected the gold price in dollars if not in some other currencies).  This fall in other currencies against the dollar has had a counter-effect on some of the Administration’s tariff impositions.  Yet even so some U.S. manufacturers are already warning that the tariffs on Chinese goods in particular will have a negative impact on input and consumer prices.

So, we are likely going to see a steady increase in U.S. inflation, and unless there is a slew of positive data on job creation, wages and in PMI forecasts, we could see sentiment turning down which could further impact U.S. equities markets.  If equities are seen as likely to fall further this could see an increased move towards safe haven assets like gold and silver.

Although be warned, if equities markets really do tank as some are predicting, then precious metals prices could suffer too as individuals and funds/institutions struggle to maintain liquidity and are forced to sell off good assets with the bad.  We saw this happen in the 2008 market crash, although it should be noted that gold, in particular, was far quicker to recover than equities and climbed back to pre-crash levels while equities were still falling.

And what of silver?  This has had a pretty torrid time of late as represented by a gold:silver ratio (GSR) at around its highest level for around 20 or more years.  When the GSR has been this high in the past it has tended to precede either an economic crisis or a big stock market turndown, or both.  Is that what we are now experiencing?  We have often said we don’t anticipate a return to the supposed old average GSR of around 15 as the out and out silver bulls will suggest, but a return to the 70 level, or even 60, could be on the cards with a huge positive impact on the price of silver. vis-a-vis that of gold

This morning, gold has already regained the $1,200 level which had previously seen major resistance to an increase coming in.  And once U.S. markets opened the price shot up another $20.  If this level is sustained through the end of the week and equities continue to fall, then we could see a big surge in precious metals prices in the days and weeks ahead.  Chart followers had been pointing to a gold close above $1,215 as being the significant level from which gold might continue to appreciate and, as I update this article gold is sitting comfortably higher than this level.  it obviously remains to be seen whether it will stay there, but we think there is a good chance of it so doing and then move on to get some of its lustre back.

Bitcoin too has been stuttering with BTC down around 5% and the smaller cryptos, like ETH, mostly down more than 10%.  We have long warned that we have no confidence in the stability of a bitcoin investment and this kind of volatility perhaps makes the point for us.  Some observers reckon that BTC will fall to around $2,000 by the year end, or even lower, and some of the lesser cryptos to close to zero.  We wouldn’t be surprised if this were to come about!

 

Latest SGE figures could point to a Chinese gold demand turndown

Perhaps a week later than usual – due to the Golden Week holiday, China’s Shanghai Gold Exchange has just published its gold withdrawal figures for September, and they’ve come in around 12% down on the same month a year ago.  The question is does this represent a downturn in Chinese gold demand, despite the relatively low gold price with lower metal prices usually sparking an upturn in retail gold demand in mainland China and Hong Kong?  – See table below for monthly SGE gold withdrawals for the past couple of years:

Table: SGE Monthly Gold Withdrawals (Tonnes)

Month   2018 2017 2016 % change 2017-2018 % change     2016-2018
January   223.58 184.41 225.08 +21.2%  -0.7%
February*   118.42 148.24 107.60 -20.1% +10.7%
March  192.61  192.25 183.24  +0.2%  +5.1%
April  212.64  165.78 171.40  +28.3% +24.1%
May  150.58  138.08 147.28  +9.1%  +2.2%
June  140.59  155.51 138.51  -9.6%  +1.5%
July 137.41  144.71 117.58  -5.0%  +16.9%
August  190.59  161.41 144.44 +18.1%  +32.0%
September  188.12  214.24 170.90  -12.2%  +10.1%
October*  151.54  153.25
November  189.10  214.72
December  185.21  196.37
Year to date 1,554.55 1504.70 1406.03 +  3.3% +10.6% 
Full Year  2,030.48  1,970.37

Source: Shanghai Gold Exchange.  Lawrieongold.com

* Months include week long New Year and Golden Week holiday periods

A double digit percentage downturn for one month may in reality not be indicative of a downturn – yet – but taken into account with other factors  (not least the initial impact of the trade and tariff ‘war’ with the U.S.) we think it may be time to take note given the huge impact of Chinese gold consumption on global gold trade.

It is actually a somewhat contentious point as to whether SGE gold withdrawals are a real representation of Chinese demand.  The major gold consultancies dispute this and come up with far lower figures for Chinese  consumption, but, in terms of actual gold flows they do seem to be far closer to reality than the consultants’ estimates.  Known gold imports from those countries which break down their gold export figures by national destination, plus China’s own gold production, plus an allowance for scrap come far closer to the SGE withdrawal total than the consultants’ consumption estimates.  If we add in a small allowance for gold imports not detailed in national statistics we do end up with a sum total which equates to SGE withdrawals.  Regardless, though, the SGE figures given they are released monthly, are an easily accessed measure of trends in gold activity in the world’s largest gold consumer.

 

So we await future months’ SGE figures with particular interest given they will include demand leading up to the next Chinese New Year which falls on February 5th (a year of the pig), around 10 days earlier than the 2018 New Year.

Those with sharper eyes may note that this year’s February SGE gold withdrawal figures were some 20% lower than the previous year without prompting the kind of comment we are seeing here, but this is explainable by the comparative dates of the Chinese New Year, which fell mid-February this year and end-January in 2017 with much more of the corresponding holiday period, when the SGE is closed, falling within February this year.

I have added additional comment on the state of the Chinese economy and the impact of the SGE gold withdrawals in a post on sharpspixley.com which may be accessed directly by clicking here.

Suffice it to say that if the latest SGE gold withdrawal figures do presage a turndown in Chinese gold demand, this could have an important impact on global demand fundamentals given that China is the world’s largest gold consumer.

Two connected gold posts from me on Sharps Pixley

This past week I have published a couple of gold-relevant posts on the info.sharpspixley.com website which look at the current price pattern for gold and whether it has bottomed yet.

The first was:

Gold battles to hold $1,200

The first couple of paras  follow – to read the full article click on the linked title  above:

The past few trading days have seen the gold price hovering above and below the $1,200 mark in the light of a stronger dollar and a lack of Chinese data due to the nation’s Golden Week holiday this week.  Every time the gold price has nosed above $1,200 it has been taken down a few dollars again.

The hard right wing gold fraternity generally put this down to manipulation by the powers that be on the futures markets where at key times remarkable amounts of paper gold are offered for sale – although spoofing, where massive sales or purchase orders are placed on the futures markets, but with an intent to cancel orders before they can be implemented, may well be a prevalent cause. For example, the U.S. CFTC regulator has just fined Canada’s Scotiabank a paltry $800,000 for doing this on the COMEX futures markets for gold and silver from at least June 2013 to June 2016.  It makes one wonder how common this kind of market manipulation is among the other major bullion banks.  The profits that can be gained from playing the markets to their advantage in this manner far exceed any fines that may be imposed by the regulators and the banks may view the prospect of being caught out and fined just as a cost of doing business.  After all an $800,000 dollar fine is just peanuts to a major banking entity.  Who knows what huge profits were made by playing the markets in this manner ?

The Chinese Golden Week holiday suggests………….  To read full article click on the title above.

The second article looked at the weekend close above the $1,200 level, looks at the short term headwinds facing gold, and then the long term positives.  To read the full article click on the link below:

Gold ends week above $1,200. Is the bottom in yet?

The gold price managed to end the past week above the $1,200 level, but still a little below its 50 day moving average, although it did manage to breach that line intra-day, so it is close. But the big question is is it there to stay, or will it turn down again and test its recent low of around $1,183 again?

We have read a number of gold commentaries suggesting the bottom is in on numerous occasions during gold’s decline from above $1,350 earlier in the year, with most such forecasts being overtaken by further declines within a very short space of time. But this time around it does look like there may have been a firm bottom in the low $1,180s. But as we noted in an earlier article this past week, gold has been struggling to remain consistently above the $1,200 level, despite continuing buying pressure.

Gold has been range bound for most of the past few days between around $1,190 and $1,210 being unable to break out in either direction so far. There are certainly short term headwinds………

To read full article click on the title above

 

Culture Clash In Barrick/Randgold Merger Could Be Hugely Beneficial For Both

Link to my latest article on Seeking Alpha on the proposed Barrick/randgold merger
Summary

Top gold miners Barrick Gold and Randgold Resources are planning to merge in an US$18 billion plus all-share deal.

Key operating management positions will be held by Randgold executives with the intent of applying Randgold’s leaner and meaner ethos to Barrick’s management and operations.

The merged company will majority own and operate five of the top ten Tier One global gold mining assets and will again become the world’s biggest gold mining company.

If I were a Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX) shareholder, I would be enthused about the proposed merger of the company with Randgold Resources (GOLD). Not only would Barrick be merging with one of the most successful companies in the gold mining universe over the past several years, it will return it to being the world’s largest gold miner (eclipsing Newmont Mining (NEM) – which has only just become the current No.1) – but also by effectively buying new management with a totally different approach to the top tier gold mining sector. While Barrick’s current Chairman, ex-Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton, will be Executive Chairman of the combined company, two key executive management positions will be held by Randgold executives Mark Bristow as President and CEO and Graham Shuttleworth as Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In some respects, the merger could thus almost be seen as a reverse take-over. According to a quote in the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the Randgold execs will have the brief to “implement the Randgold way” across the enlarged company…….

To read full article click here

Hong Kong an also-ran in latest Swiss gold export figures

Another of my articles on Sharpspixley.com emphasising the reduction in importance of Hong Kong as a conduit for gold flows into mainland China.  The latest gold export figures from Switzerland demonstrate this well.  For many year gold flows through Hong Kong were considered a proxy for those into China at which time ups and downs in the Hong Kong figures were indeed significant – but the Territory has for several years now been of diminishing importance in this respect but still some of the media considers them as the proxy for ups and downs in Chinese demand.  Such articles should thus be ignored as not presenting the true picture.

An excerpt from my Sharps Pixley article follows – and a link to the full article is available by clicking here:

Perhaps then biggest surprise was the enormous fall in gold exports to Hong Kong in the Ausuts Swiss gold export figures. The Chinese semi-autonomous administrative state imported only 3.4 tonnes of gold from Switzerland in August demonstrating in no uncertain terms that the Territory is being sidelined as an import routing for mainland Chinese gold imports in favour of mainland ports of entry like Beijing and Shanghai. Hong Kong gold imports can definitely no longer be considered a proxy for Chinese gold demand as we have been saying for some time, although global media still gives undue importance to the level of Hong Kong gold imports and to the Territory’s exposts to the Chinese mainland.

Mainland China was again the biggest recipient of Swiss gold in August at 45.2 tonnes, closely followed by India with 40 tonnes (see chart from Nick Laird’s www.goldchartsrus.com website below.), suggesting that gold demand in the two biggest gold consumers is holding up reasonably well, but perhaps the biggest surprises were the big rise in Swiss gold exports to Singapore (12.6 tonnes) and even more so Thailand (21.6 tonnes). Interestingly Turkey apparently imported no gold at all from Switzerland in August, but actually exported 12.8 tonnes to the small European nation at the centre of the global gold refining trade.

As usual, the Swiss figures show an ever-continuing flow of gold from West to East with Asia and the Middle East accounting for over 88% of the total export figures…..

To read the rest of the article and view a graphic of the latest country-by-country Swiss gold exports please click on this link

Could proposed Barrick/Randgold merger kick off new era for top gold miners?

My latest article on Sharps Pixley website

Where the leader goes, others will follow! Arguably Barrick Gold is the company other top gold miners aspire to emulate, so will its proposed merger with Randgold Resources to buy in an alternative management strategy see other top gold miners follow suit in terms of management direction? If the proposed merger goes ahead and the ‘Randgold way’ is successfully implemented at what will again be the world’s top gold miner, the answer is probably yes!

Barrick was very much at the forefront of the production growth at any cost strategy which worked well in a continuing rising gold price scenario, but once gold peaked in 2011 and started to come down from its highs, the company was left with some hugely expensive capital projects on its books and a mountainous debt position. Most of its capital projects were too far advanced to be halted, although the horrendously costly, and technically complex Pascua Lama development straddling the Chile/Argentina border was able to be stopped, but only after expenditures of around $6 billion had already been sunk into the project. When gold was strong and rising mega producers like Barrick could handle costs like this and the banks were still falling over themselves to lend money accordingly.

But when the gold price plateaued and started to fall it was another story altogether. Profits and any free cashflow were substantially reduced and big institutional shareholders who had been perfectly happy with the growth at almost any cost strategy pressured Barrick into top management changes and some fairly drastic cost cutting and debt reduction programmes. So it was with other major god miners too. They had been pursuing similar strategies to Barrick and found them selves in similar predicaments. In that period from 2012 to 2015 virtually all the gold major CEOs were ousted and replaced as were many others in exec management positions. The miners entered a period of unmatched austerity from which few have recovered to any meaningful extent. The industry as a whole has substantially reduced debt, has cut back drastically on capital projects and has cut, or reduced, various management tiers. But with a lacklustre gold price stock p[rices have continued to slip and shareholders with clout are not happy…..

But all the while one tier one gold mining company with operations all in the unfavoured regions of West and Central Africa continued to grow without incurring massive debt and managing at the same time to sharply increase its dividend payments by sticking to strict new mine investment parameters…..

To Read Full article click here

Could gold and bitcoin be headed for parity?

Here’s a lightly edited version of an article I published on the http://www.sharpspixley.com website.  To read the original article click here.

At current prices with gold closing last week back over $1,200 and the bitcoin BTC token at around $6,600, the idea of gold and bitcoin regaining parity they last saw a year and a half ago might seem a little far fetched. But Bloomberg Intelligence’s Mike McGlone seems to think otherwise. In a report earlier this week, he painted a scenario of the BTC price falling and gold rising which could bring the two back into parity.

McGlone’s hypothesis is that market volatility, particularly in the bitcoin price, is an important indicator which investors need to watch. After all, bitcoin has already fallen from its peak of almost $20,000 achieved only seven months ago, to its current levels – a fall of nearly 70% – and he sees another similar fall, coupled with a possible pick-up in the gold price as being a distinct, but perhaps arguable, possibility.

As readers will be aware, this commentator is no believer in bitcoin. We feel there is no substance behind it. It is only worth what people are prepared to pay for it. It has no real inherent value having been purely a computer creation. I read somewhere that one observer (Richard Bernstein) likened it to a Candy Crush token which struck me as being extremely apposite. As people fall out of love with bitcoin – and it will have lost a lot of adherents with its fall from last December’s peak – the potential for it to fall back towards zero is, to my mind, a strong one. Bitcoin itself (BTC) is currently struggling to stay above the $6,000 mark despite a concerted campaign by pro-bitcoin commentators to drive it back up – many will probably have a vested interest in high crypto-currency prices. If it does come back down to the $5,000s or below this could signify a stronger fall ahead.

We tend to watch some of the other less costly cryptos as a guide and the fall of these from their respective peaks has been immense. Ethereum, probably the second highest market cap cryptocurrency, for example is nowadays comfortably below the $300 mark. It peaked in January at just under $1,400, so it has seen a fall of over 80% in around seven months. Monero, reputedly the crypto of choice for ransomware scammers and the criminal element wishing to keep transactions out of sight of the law and the tax collectors, is also down over 80% from its December 2017 peak and most of the other minor cryptocurrencies are also down by similar percentages or more.

Gold, on the other hand, despite it having been having a particularly torrid time of late is only down by 12% from its peak this year in U.S. dollars and beginning to pick up again as the dollar turns weaker. Unlike the cryptocurrencies, gold has stood the test of time as a store of value and does at least have substance behind it.  The recent price fall has been all about dollar strength after a period of sustained decline, and perhaps we are due a reversal again as the real ramifications of the confrontational U.S. trade tariff impositions begin to sink in in terms of raised prices, and thus inflation, in the U.S. domestic economy.

We see gold’s long term fundamentals as strong. Even if we are not quite yet at peak gold we are there or thereabouts and global new mined production will start to decline – and once the decline starts it will accelerate as there has been a huge drop in gold exploration and new mega-project construction necessary to replace depleting older assets. Meanwhile global incomes in the emerging gold buying nations are rising and the longer term increase in demand likely to be thus generated, coupled with eventually declining output, will put the gold price under some strong positive pressure.

Gold at the moment is being squeezed by the strong dollar brought on by President Trump’s tariff war and the prospect of rising U.S. Fed interest rates. But Trump is beginning to recognise that the strong dollar is putting U.S. exporters at risk while mitigating the pricing effects of the tariffs and is unhappy with this. How long before he initiates steps, perhaps behind the scenes, to start to bring the dollar down with a corresponding uplift in the gold price?

Back to Bloomberg’s McGlone: he comments that “Bitcoin is down to about 5x the price of gold after stretching toward 15x. There’s little to prevent another four-turn reduction to get it back toward 1-to-1, in our view”.

He also feels that the gold market is about to start picking up again. He pointed out that gold’s 90-day volatility is at its lowest level since 1999, at the same time its 60-day volatility is at its lowest level since 1997 and that the last time volatility was this low, the price entered a three-week rally which saw it pick up 34%. A similar increase now would put the price back to close to $1,600 and that it only needs a minor spark to ignite such a change in perception. There are plenty of geopolitical uncertainties out there which could initiate such a spark. Gold investors will hope McGlone is at least halfway correct in his analysis. Bitcoin investors will be less enamoured!

Gold News from Russia and China

My latest articles published on http://www.sharpspixley.com website looking at the latest gold related news from China and Russia – two real believers in the future of the precious metal.  Click on the titles to read full articles

Russia’s largest gold miners sees H1 gold output rise substantially

Both Polyus Gold and Polymetal – Russia’s two largest gold producers have seen substantial output increases in H1 making suggestions that Russia’s gold output this year might rise by 3% look distinctly conservative.

China’s H1 gold output falls 7.9%, but demand rises

China, the world’s largest gold consumer, appears to be seeing its own gold production fall – down 7.9% in H1 2018

China imports 400 tonnes of Swiss gold in H1

Greater China (mainland plus Hong Kong) remained the principal destination for Swiss gold exports again in June. So far this year Greater China has imported around 400 tonnes of gold from Switzerland alone.

Russia continues to add to its gold reserves

Russia, which has been running down its holdings of U.S. Treasuries, is continuing to increase its gold reserves at a rate of over 200 tonnes a year. At the current rate of increase the nation’s holdings will exceed 2,000 tonnes by the end of 2018.

 

UPDATE: Gold, Silver, Platinum, Palladium – Price And Stock Forecasts/Recommendations For 2018

My latest article on Seeking Alpha looks at changes to my precious metals price predictions for 2018 and recommended stocks given the underperformance in the precious metals space so far this year

Summary

Our precious metals-related stock selections of late December last year have underperformed along with the corresponding metals prices.

We anticipate an improvement in precious metals prices in the remaining months of 2018.

We have re-worked our tabulation of stock and metal price predictions and look for growth over the remainder of the year.

To read the full article click on: Gold And Silver Now And Forecast Target Price Adjustments For End 2018

China, South Africa, Trump trade moves and the Dollar – My recent SP articles

Here are links to four recent articles published by me on the Sharps Pixley website.  Sharps Pixley is probably about the best consolidator of links to pertinent articles on precious metals globally so should be on every gold investor’s list of go-to places for precious metals news and comment.

China’s gold reserves – fact or fiction?

China has again reported a zero increase in its official gold reserves to the IMF for the 20th successive month increasing speculation that it is building up its gold holdings in other non-reported accounts.

How the mighty are fallen. RSA gold on the decline

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) used to be by far the world’s biggest gold producer but output there peaked nearly 50 years ago and has been on the decline ever since.

Markets nervous as Trump trade rhetoric escalates

The U.S.-China trade (tariff) war appears to be escalating and markets are reacting nervously accordingly.

Gold held back by dollar index upturn

Gold looked as though it might be about to break out from its recent weak trading range, but has been brought back down to earth by a stronger dollar

Polymetal’s big new gold mine on stream ahead of schedule, under budget

Russia’s No. 2 gold miner, and world No. 5 silver miner, Polymetal, has announced that its big new precious metals mine – Kyzyl in north-eastern Kazakhstan – poured its first gold on June 25th a month ahead of schedule.  What is more, start-up has been achieved under budget.  Polymetal is London Stock Exchange quoted (ticker POLY).

As we noted when writing about the Russian miner a month or so ago, Kyzyl is a key element in the company’s long term production growth strategy and now that it appears to have started up successfully Polymetal can concentrate on the next major project in its production pipeline – the Nezhda mine.

According to Polymetal, Nezhda is Russia’s fourth largest gold property based in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) with a resource inventory of 55.9 million tonnes of mineralised material containing 8.9 million ounces of gold equivalent with an average grade of 5.0 g/tonne gold equivalent based on the latest resource estimate.

Currently, the Company envisions the construction of an open-pit mine at Nezhda and a conventional on-site concentrator followed by concentrate processing at the Amursk POX or 3rd-party off-take. This ensures low capital intensity for the project, making it an excellent fit for Polymetal’s core capabilities. Total capital costs for Nezhda are estimated at US$249 million, including $15 million capitalised pre-stripping costs, with approximately $30 million to be invested in 2018 into project design, permitting and exploration.

Polymetal currently has been operating eight producing mines – six in Russia and one each in Kazakhstan and Armenia and has other projects in the pipeline as well as Kyzyl.  However it has a policy of only managing two new projects at any given time and the current concentration, now that Kyzyl is in production, will be on de-bottlenecking its state-of-the-art pressure oxidation (POX) facility at Amursk in Russia’s Far East, and can now take the decision to progress Nezhda. Then in the prospective pipeline it has a second POX line which could be installed at  Amursk, but won’t take the decision on that until the current POX debottlenecking programme is also seen to be successfully implemented – due to be in early 2019.

At Kyzyl Polymetal has achieved the start-up of the concentrator one quarter ahead of the original schedule that had been announced in 2014, and one month earlier compared with the January 2018 updated plan. Project Capex is expected to be approximately 3% below the original US$325 million budget, inclusive of 62 million tonnes of pre-stripping.

Mining activities at Kyzyl have already reached full design capacity with 315,000 tonnes of ore stockpiled ahead of start-up. The grade control programme demonstrated robust reconciliation with the reserve model with both ore grade and gold contained tracking slightly above plan.   Kyzyl is, in today’s terms, a high grade operation with a reserve grade of over 7g/tonne gold.  First concentrate deliveries to off-takers are scheduled for the end of July with shipments to the Amursk POX facility expected to commence in September.

The Kyzyl concentrator will now be entering a 3-month ramp-up period, after which it is expected to reach nameplate capacity of 150,000 tonne/month mand recoveries of 86% by October 2018. This year Polymetal plans to produce 80,000 ounces (around 2.5 tonnes) of payable gold at Kyzyl, ramping up production to 280,000 ounces (8.7 tonnes) in 2019 and nameplate capacity of 330,000 ounces (10 tonnes plus) thereafter at a very low AISC of approximately US$ 500-550/ounce.

At Kyzyl, the JORC compliant gold reserve is estimated at 7.3 million ounces at 7.7 g/t of gold. This would support a life-of-mine of 10 years for the open pit followed by further 14 years of underground mining. Additional JORC-compliant gold resources comprise 3.1 million ounces at 6.8 g/t indicating strong potential to further extend operations.

“Polymetal is delighted and proud to successfully complete the largest development project in the company’s history ahead of time and below budget”, said Vitaly Nesis, Group CEO of Polymetal who we interviewed back in April (see: Polymetal CEO, Vitaly Nesis, very bullish on silver) “Significant cash flow and net income contributions from Kyzyl should start in Q4 2018.”

Russia is the world’s third largest producer of gold after China and Australia but is expanding output and aiming for the No. 2 spot.  Kazakhstan is currently the world’s 15th largest gold miner and Kyzyl’s output could help move it up a couple of slots by the end of the decade.  Its central bank currently buys most of the gold produced by the country’s mines as it aggressively builds its gold reserve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

China gold – positive news on all fronts

Linked below are two articles I have posted recently on the Sharp Pixley website – both on the latest state of play in the Chinese gold markets.  The first of these looks at gold withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), which some observers equate to the real level of Chinese gold demand being somewhat higher than that suggested by the major Western consultancies which have perhaps more limited criteria on what should actually be included in the demand figure.  We have noted beforehand, quite frequently in fact, that SGE gold withdrawal figures equate far more closely to the total of known gold imports from countries/areas which break down their gold export statistics by country of destination, plus China’s own gold output plus an allowance for scrap and from unpublished import data than the estimated Chinese consumption figures by the consultancies.

Be this as it may, for the first five months of the year, SGE withdrawals are up by 8.55% on the figure at the same time a year ago and up 7.79% on the first five months of 2016 .  We speculate further that if we add Hong Kong consumption to that of the Chinese mainland this account for around 70% of all new mined gold, and with the continuing growth in numbers of the Chinese middle classes, and the continually rising national GDP, gold demand is likely to be on the increase given the propensity of the Chinese middle class population to buy precious metals as a hedge Ginat difficult financial times.  A link to that article is as follows:

Chinese gold demand continues to rise yoy

My second article in the past week on Sharps Pixley noted that the total reported amount of gold in China’s forex reserves, as reported monthly to the IMF, remains unchanged as it has done now for nineteen successive months – indeed ever since the Chinese yuan, or renminbi, has been accepted as an integral part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Right.  We think this situation is highly unlikely given indications over the years from Chinese politicians and academics that the country is aiming to at least match the gold reserves of the Big Western national gold holders.

China has a track record of announcing big gold reserve increases only at multi-year intervals and putting this down to gold being purchased and held in non-reportable accounts until moved into its official forex figures.  Again, we speculate that this gold may be being purchased and held by the state-owned commercial banks on behalf of the People’s Bank of China and only moved into the PBoC reportable accounts at say five or six year intervals.  A link to this article is:

China official gold reserves unchanged again as forex holdings dip

Another piece of positive news on Chinese gold demand came from the World Gold Council which reported a return to growth in Chinese gold jewellery demand.

Market Update: China’s jewellery market – quietly improving

Trump opens Pandora’s box. Global trade war very positive for gold.

Article first published on Sharps Pixley website

Well we’ll soon see if President Trump’s imposition of steel and aluminium tariffs on the EU, Canada and Mexico is for real – or just another negotiating tactic.  He is very much a believer in promising the worst as a tactic for generating concessions in his business dealings, but will this work in global geopolitics?  Tit for tat tariffs are already being promised by those affected – they can play at that game too! – and if they all come about they could cost far more in American jobs than any possible regeneration that might be seen in the U.S. steel and aluminium sectors.  Those are too far down the line of closures and write-offs to see any kind of short term recovery.  And U.S. manufacturers currently relying on imported aluminium and steel for their products will see costs rise which, no doubt, will see them having to increase prices for their goods making them less competitive in both domestic and global markets.

And, of course, such a trade tariff war could easily escalate dragging in more products and countries.  A global trade war does nobody any good as noted by top economist Martin Murenbeeld (www.murenbeeld.com) in his latest weekly Gold Monitor newsletter for his subscribers.

Martin is renowned for his comprehensive, but conservative, analyses of the gold market.  As we have noted before he is mildly bullish, but circumspect, on his stated outlook for precious metals.  He is not a predictor of a rapid rise to a $5,000 or $10,000 metal price but, in our view is a much more realistic observer of metal price trends in looking for steadily rising medium to long term price levels in line with a perhaps weakening dollar index.

As he states: “a global trade war would be catastrophic for the world economy – and would be a big issue for the gold market! A global trade war would seriously alter central bank policies – more loosening/less tightening – which is a plus for gold! And the dollar’s reserve-currency role would be damaged, and accelerate the move to a multiple reserve-currency world (with the dollar playing a much-reduced role).   Central bank gold reserves around the world would likely rise accordingly.”  If he is correct in his analysis and President Trump does not reverse course, the global economy could be in for some very uncomfortable years as /a tariff war stutters and possibly escalates.

What is puzzling about the Trump tariffs so far is the countries which have been targeted – all supposedly allies of the U.S. – while China, which most see as the biggest culprit in terms of what are seen as unfair trade practices, seems to be attracting less immediate attention, although talks with the Chinese are ongoing.  However, one suspects that China, and some other Asian nations will become targets too and again tit-for-tat  tariff increases will result with damaging results for the sectors so chosen.  While President Trump has described the tariff increases as a national security issue given steel and aluminium are used in weapons manufacture, others see the moves as pure protectionism of the worst kind.  Such trading issues usually end up as economically disadvantageous to all parties – hence the likely benefits to the gold market as investors look to so-called safe havens.

My posts on Sharpspixley.com so far this month

Readers of lawrieongold.com will be aware that I also write articles for the Sharps Pixley website.  In case you’ve missed these and would like to read them links to those I’ve published there so far this month are set out below:

Further thoughts on peak gold

18 May 2018 – Additional thoughts on peak gold following a couple of emails from Jeff Christian of the CPM Group which agree that Ian Telfer’s assertion that all major gold deposits have been found already is, at best, premature.

Lawrence Williams

Peak gold according to Ian (Telfer)

17 May 2018 – Goldcorp chairman and industry doyen, Ian Telfer, reckons we are at peak gold – or thereabouts – a view with which we would agree, but also says allthe mega gold deposites to be found already have been – with which we would take issue.

Lawrence Williams

Mixed forecasts on platinum

16 May 2018 – Two detailed reports on platinum at the start of London Platinum Week come up with differing opinions on some aspects of the market, although have broadly similar conclusions overall.

Lawrence Williams

Gold ETF inflows up sharply in April – WGC

14 May 2018 – While equity markets and the gold price have remained flat so far this year one area of encouragement for gold investors may be a reportedly high level of gold inflows into gold ETFs in April.

Lawrence Williams

China’s official gold reserves unchanged – again

08 May 2018 – The Chinese central bank has yet again released an unchanged gold reserve tonnage for the end of April, while its overall forex reserves have hit a five-month low, due – so officials say – to dollar strength against other leading currencies.

Lawrence Williams

Chinese gold demand way up in April

05 May 2018 – Using the latest Shanghai Gold Exchange gold withdrawal figures as a guide to demand, the latter is picking up nicely with April withdrawals well up on those of the past few years.

Lawrence Williams

Q1 gold demand lowest for 10 years

03 May 2018 – The latest Gold Demand Trends report from the World Gold Council sees Q1 gold demand at its lowest for 10 years due almost entirely to a fall in investment demand in key markets. Other demand sectors are somewhat similar or up on a year ago.

Lawrence Williams

Chinese gold demand looks to have risen sharply in April

An edited version of an article first written for the Sharps Pixley website – to see original click here

Despite the latest analysis from the World Gold Council (WGC) which suggested a poorish start to the year for gold demand (See:  Q1 gold demand lowest for 10 years), Chinese demand as represented by gold withdrawals out of the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) appears to have picked up well in April coming out at 28% higher than in 2017 and 24% higher than in 2016 (see table below).  They are still around 9% down on the record 2015 figure for the first four months of the year, but at least the trend appears positive when some other demand statistics appear to be slipping.

Indeed April 2018 gold withdrawals were actually comfortably higher than those in April 2015 too, but in the latter year gold withdrawals out of the SGE were particularly strong in the second half and totalled almost 2,600 tonnes for the full year – around 80% of total global new mined production.  We don’t expect this figure to be matched in the current year, but the latest Chinese figures look to be off to a good start and we could be heading for the best demand figures since 2015.

Table: SGE Monthly Gold Withdrawals (Tonnes)

Month   2018 2017 2016 % change 2017-2018 % change 2016-2018
January   223.58 184.41 225.08 +21.2%  -0.7%
February*   118.42 148.24 107.60 -20.1% +10.7%
March  192.61  192.25 183.24  +0.2%  +5.1%
April  212.65  165.78 171.40  +28.3% +24.07%
May  138.08 147.28
June  155.51 138.51
July  144.71 117.58
August  161.41 144.44
September  214.24 170.90
October*  151.54  153.25
November  189.10  214.72
December  185.21  196.37
Year to date   749.07 690.68 687.32 +  8.45% +8.98%
Full Year  2,030.48  1,970.37

Source: Shanghai Gold Exchange.  Lawrieongold.com

*February and October tend to be anomalous months because of week long holidays when the SGE is closed

Of course, as we have pointed out here previously it is a contentious issue as to whether SGE withdrawal figures are truly an accurate indicator of total Chinese gold demand.  The major precious metals consultancies come up with all kinds of differing reasons why this is not the case.  But in support of our views on this we should point out that SGE gold withdrawal figures seem to relate far better to the sum of China’s own gold production plus known gold imports, plus a reasonable figure for scrap supply and unquantified imports, than these same consultancies’ rather narrower estimates of Chinese annual gold demand.

The latest SGE figures thus do suggest that Chinese investment demand for gold bars and coins may be picking up – particularly as the gold price will have appeared weak at times which could have appealed to bargain hunters.  The prospects of a trade tariff war developing with the USA may also be driving Chinese citizens with disposable income (a part of the populace which is increasing all the time) to safe haven investment.  Furthermore,the huge falls in the value of cryptocurrencies will also have diminished interest in these as a safe investment asset which again may have turned the gold-loving Chinese back to the yellow metal.

The WGC Q1 report noted above does suggest that gold jewellery demand in China is picking up too and points to a continuing sharp global growth in technological demand – and China is at the forefront of the latter in that its high tech industries are becoming world dominant.