Bullion traders bought gold in heavy volumes Thursday, running the spot gold price up to $1,323.20 as of 1:04 pm in New York, an increase of $40.50 since yesterday’s close of $1282.70. On the Comex market, December gold futures were changing hands at $1,321,50, up $39 from yesterday. MINING.com reported that by 1 pm EST, the number of December gold contracts traded had exceeded 180,000, already 10 percent more than average daily volumes. Comex attributed gold’s rise to technical short covering. The US dollar also stumbled on Thursday, boosting gold’s appeal.
The major gold miners followed suit, with several experiencing gains in their share prices. At the close of trading in New York, Barrick Gold (NYSE:ABX, TSX:ABX), was up 4.9 percent, Goldcorp (NYSE:GG, TSX:G) surged 3.7 percent, Newmont (NYSE:NEM) gained 4.5 percent, and African Barrick Gold (LSE:ABG) added 2.7 percent.
Reuters said the deal, under which Republicans and Democrats agreed to fund the federal government through January 15, and allowed the Treasury to increase the nation’s borrowing authority through February 7, essentially kicked the can down the road as far as any “taper” of quantitative easing.
Gold has been buffeted in recent months over statements by the US Federal Reserve that it may scale back its $85 billion a month bond-purchase program, but Wednesday’s debt deal now makes it unlikely the Fed will decrease the purchases until at least the beginning of the new year.
“The U.S. debt deal is seen (as) positive for gold by market participants, for good reason, since the whole mess is just being postponed by 3-4 months, which makes a reduction of Fed asset purchases rather unlikely for the time being,” Reuters quoted Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch, as saying.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, gold did not benefit much from the two-week-old crisis. The precious metal is a safe-haven asset and usually appreciates in times of economic uncertainty. However gold actually dropped to a three-month low earlier this week, to $1,251.66 an ounce. Traders explained that markets had not priced in a default because investors expected the United States to come up with a last-minute agreement, according to Reuters.
Barrick Gold is heading back to court over its Pascua Lama gold mine debacle in Chile. The Financial Post reported that a Chilean appeals court will examine a fresh appeal against the mine, that argues it will negatively impact the environment and local people. The Chilean Supreme Court froze construction of the mine earlier this year, pending the completion of a water management system by Barrick. The $8.5 billion mine was expected to begin producing in 2014 but has been delayed by two years. Barrick took a $5.5 billion writedown on the project in July.
Harmony Gold (NYSE:HMY) produced 12 percent more gold from its underground mines than the previous quarter, despite recent labor disruptions. The South African gold producer said that an increase in tonnage and grades were responsible for the higher output, as well as lower cash costs quarter to quarter.
Junior company news
MINING.com reported that stock in Edgewater Exploration (TSXV:EDW), exploring for gold in Spain, was halved this week, due to local media reports expressing doubts the company could clear certain hurdles. These include whether Edgewater has the technical expertise and funding to develop its Corcoesto gold project. Edgewater said in a press release that it is still seeeking clarification from the Galician government. The company has spent over $20 million on the project thus far and last month filed a resource estimate showing over a million ounces, measured and indicated.
Richmont Mines (TSX:RIC) achieved commercial production on October 1 at its W Zone Gold Project, an underground operation on the company’s Beaufor mine, near Val d’Or, Quebec. The W Zone is expected to produce about 3,000 ounces of year in the fourth quarter and 12,000 oz in 2014.
“We are very pleased to announce that the W Zone Mine has been transitioned into our producing asset portfolio, and that our capital investment over the past several years will now begin to generate cash flow for the Corporation,” Richmont President and CEO Paul Carmel said in a statement.
Barkerville Gold Mines (TSXV:BGM), the beleaguered BC gold junior that was recently reinstated on the TSX Venture, this week released an update on its Cariboo gold project including the Cow Mountain prospect, for which Barkerville put out a resource estimate last year. The estimate of more than 10.6 million ounces was questioned by the BC Securities Commission which later halted the stock, until it began trading again on October 9. On Wednesday, Barkerville reported that 7,499 infill core samples have been collected at the Gold Quartz Mine/Cow Mountain, from 155 drill holes, since 2007. Of those samples, 7,000 have been cut and 4,802 analyzed. Rejected core sample assays from previously drilled holes have been sent to the lab for analysis.
Securities Disclosure: I, Andrew Topf, own stock in Goldcorp.