June 16th, 2020 | 11:34 CEST
Barrick, Desert Gold, Endeavour Mining - Who benefits from the gold shortage?
Table of contents:
"[...] We knew the world was rapidly electrifying and urbanising and needing significant amounts of copper to do so. [...]" Nick Mather, CEO, SolGold PLC
Born and raised in Hannover, Lower Saxony follows social and economic developments around the globe. As a passionate entrepreneur and columnist he explains and compares the most diverse business models as well as markets for interested stock traders.
No production without exploration
Anyone who wants to mine gold has to find it first. The origin of all gold production is exploration. Once the gold is discovered in the ground, the next step is to determine the size of the reserves. The goal of exploration companies is usually to discover quantities of gold in the ground that will allow the project to develop into an economically attractive production.
Replacement for mined reserves
Without success in exploration, mining will not be possible. For this reason, the big gold producers often keep an eye on the exploration scene, especially if they are located in the vicinity of producing mines. Everything that has been mined in the gold mine is logically gone. Conversely, the producers' reserves decrease with every ounce sold. This scenario is not abstract, but already reality. Since 2012, the reserves of the biggest producers have dropped 34% from 967 million ounces to 584 million ounces in 2019. The level of reserves is now less than in 2007 - before the first gold boom in conjunction with the financial crisis.
Quality has its price
Increased requirements and quality demands in connection with image building are also a major burden on production. As a result of accidents and environmental damage, producers and authorities have increased requirements and standards. In 2000, it took ten years before a discovery could go into production and ten years later the duration has increased to 20 years. In the meantime, it is expected to take 30 years before a discovery goes into production.
Exploration benefits from rising prices
The declining reserves of the producers let the prices for the take-overs of exploration companies rise as the gold price rises. The pressure on producers to act is constantly increasing. The exploration company Desert Gold Ventures has projects covering an area of 400 km2 in Mali. The company is surrounded by the following large mines: Fekola 7 million ounces, Gounkoto 4.4 million ounces, Loulo 9.8 million ounces, Sadiola 8.1 million ounces, Takakoto & Segala 3.3 million ounces and Yatela with 3.5 million ounces.
Attractive takeover prices in Africa
Desert Gold's prominent neighbors include B2Gold, Barrick Gold, Endeavour Mining and Resolute. As the exploration company has already discovered several gold prospects (2.04 g/t Au over 30 m, 3.03 g/t Au over 8 m and 6.28 g/t Au over 13 m), it stands to reason that the likelihood of an investment or acquisition by a producer from the region increases with further success from drilling programs. In 2018, takeovers in Africa averaged USD 200.33 per ounce in the ground. According to the presentation on the website, management is aiming for the discovery of up to six million ounces.
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