Gold retreated to below $1,670 per ounce Wednesday, but rebounded to as high as $1,682.10 Thursday as bullion traders snapped up bargains on a price dip that occurred after ECB President Mario Draghi announced that European economies are on an upswing. Precious metals generally move in inverse relation to good economic news. However, Draghi also hinted that he is worried about the European currency appreciating, and that sunk the euro and hiked the US dollar. The dollar was also helped by news that US jobless claims fell by 5,000; unfortunately, that caused gold to sputter.
At the close of trading on Thursday, spot gold was down $6.20 and finished at $1,671.10. COMEX gold futures for April dropped $7, to $1,671.80.
Reuters quoted Deutsche Bank analyst Daniel Brebner as saying that gold has struggled to build upward momentum this year due to better economic data boosting the appeal of stocks and industrial commodities. “Certainly the stronger performance of more conventional assets, certainly equity markets, has taken the shine off gold,” he said.
“Safe-haven assets have performed fairly poorly as expectations of growth have improved … and a lot of those debt-related risks have for the time being faded into the background. In that kind of environment, there is no significant motivation for gold prices to rise on the basis of investment demand,” he continued.
The big news this week was Silver Wheaton’s (TSX:SLW,NYSE:SLW) announcement that it will acquire a gold stream worth US$1.9 billion from two of Vale’s (NYSE:VALE) mines in Brazil and Canada. Silver Wheaton said it will buy 25 percent of the gold by-product from Vale’s Salobo copper mine for the life of the mine, as well as 70 percent of the gold produced from its Sudbury nickel mines for 20 years.
The world’s largest precious metals streaming company will pay Brazil-based Vale an initial cash payment of $1.9 billion plus warrants; that includes $1.3 billion for the Salobo stream and $570 million for the Sudbury stream. Vale will also receive future cash payments for each ounce of gold delivered under the agreement.
Adding Vale’s streams will hike Silver Wheaton’s revenue generated from gold production from 12 percent to a peak of 25 percent over the next five years, the company stated.
Vale also said this this week that it will invest up to $16 million in a copper-gold project in Mexico owned by Canadian junior Corex Gold (TSXV:CGE). The mining giant will acquire up to a 65-percent stake in the Santana copper-gold porphyry deposit by funding exploration expenditures over an initial three-year period. The earn-in agreement is between Corex and Vale’s Mexican subsidiary, Vale Exploraciones Mexico.
Intermediate producer New Gold (TSX:NGD,AMEX:NGD) will pour 40,000 more ounces of gold this year, bringing 2013 production to 480,000 ounces, the company stated in its guidance report this week. The increase will come mainly from a full year of production at the New Afton mine in British Columbia, along with increases in gold ounces from its Cerro San Pedro and Peak mines.
Gold companies in Mali have escaped disruptions due to violence in the African country because almost all (98 percent) operations are in the south and away from the fighting, Bloomberg reported. French and West African troops have been battling Islamic insurgents in the north for nearly a month.
The country’s mining minister, quoted by Bloomberg, said that despite the political upheaval, gold production grew to 50 metric tons in 2012 compared to 46 tons in 2011. One of Mali’s key gold miners, Randgold Resources, (LSE:RRS) said it hit record production in 2012 — 794,844 ounces of gold — and notched a profit of $511 million for the year.
Junior company news
Chesapeake Gold (TSXV:CKG) dropped almost 6 percent on Monday after the results of a prefeasibility study on its Mexican gold and silver mine showed costs considerably higher than originally anticipated. The Metates mine — which is expected to annually produce 659,000 gold ounces along with silver and zinc — was costed at a whopping $4.36 billion, $1.2 billion higher than the capex released in a 2011 report.
Tarsis Resources (TSXV:TCC) has optioned its Erika gold project in Mexico to Osisko Mining (TSX:OSK). The joint venture allows Osisko to earn up to a 75-percent interest in the property by funding up to $5 million in exploration expenditures over a period of four years. A feasibility study must also be delivered within two years of the 51-percent earn in.
TomaGold (TSXV:LOT) and Quinto Real Capital (TSXV:QIT) launched a 2,500-meter drilling program on the Monster Lake gold property in Chibougamau, Quebec. The main goal is to test the extension of the 325 Zone at a depth of 125 to 300 meters.
Seabridge Gold (TSX:SEA,NYSE:SA) announced that it has filed an application for an environmental assessment certificate and a federal environmental impact statement for its KSM gold-copper-silver-moly project. The prospective mine, located in Northwestern BC, is massive, with proven and probable reserves totalling 38.2 million ounces of gold, 9.9 billion pounds of copper, 191 million ounces of silver and 213 million pounds of molybdenum.
Securities Disclosure: I, Andrew Topf, do not hold equity interests in any of the companies mentioned in this article.