Copper Bottom for Global Gold Mining


". . .the world is currently mining [gold] faster than it is finding it."

Finding gold, or at least large quantities of gold, seems to be the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment. Over the past 15 years we have seen a migration of gold production away from the traditional 'big four' of South Africa, Australia, the US and Canada as mature deposits become exhausted and new territories open up as their political/economic system changes and their mining laws become more attractive to inward investors.

But while some of these developing regions of the world are prospective and still relatively under-explored, they are generally not offering up the big deposits that the industry thrived on in earlier years when South Africa's Witwatersrand, Nevada' Carlin Trend, Australia's Kalgoorlie and Canada's Timmins camps underpinned the growth of the mining industry. These camps proved to be vast treasure houses containing tens of millions of ounces of gold, which have supported many mining operations to this day.

But it is a characteristic of a mature industry that such multi-million ounce gold deposits are relatively scarce these days. Few have been found in recent years and that is despite record gold prices which have spurred an unprecedented investment in exploration. The easy deposits have been found already it seems.

As Richard Schodde, Managing Director of MinEx Consulting, told an audience at the industry's exploration event of the year, PDAC in Toronto in early March, "In the case of gold, the world is currently mining it faster than it is finding it. Furthermore the average size and grade of gold discoveries continues to decline."

So if the industry is not finding enough of the gold giants, what's the solution? Do the gold companies bow to the inevitable and allow themselves to shrink? Ever resourceful, some gold miners are changing tack in a bid to secure multi-million ounces in the ground. There is a discernable trend towards the acquisition and exploitation of copper/gold deposits.

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