Despite that optimism, gold miners say they aren’t planning the same sort of megaprojects and acquisition sprees that characterized the last ramp up in prices in the years ahead of 2011. Instead, wary of volatile prices, they plan to pay down debt and return money to shareholders.
Many companies, including the world’s largest gold miner, Newmont Goldcorp Corp., say they will only approve new projects if they can make money with gold at $1,200, about 20% below where the metal currently trades. Gold prices also have spent the majority of the eight years since 2011’s bust trading above that level, underscoring how conservative companies have become.
“We won’t push ahead with investments that would struggle to sustain themselves if the gold price trades lower,” said Kelvin Dushnisky, chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. “This was a common mistake for many gold producers in the previous upcycle.” The South African miner, whose share price has risen 62% in the year to date, is among the companies sticking by the $1,200 threshold for new projects.
In the early part of a mining investment cycle, miners have been so scarred by the depth of the bear market that they run tight ships and eschew debt. However, the higher prices rise and the more pressure they come under to replace reserves and increase supply, the lure of debt, mergers and exploration increases leverage ratios.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top