This maneuver could force gold prices screaming higher as hordes of new Chinese gold investors come clamoring into the market.
For investors today, the new measures promise at least two things:
- The gold bull market is secure with prices expected to continue marching higher.
- Companies with Chinese gold assets may be well leveraged to take advantage of soaring domestic demand.
Gold: The China Impact
The Chinese government just announced that it will allow more of its domestic commercial banks to import and export gold.
Up until now, the international trading of gold was restricted to only five of China's largest commercial banks. These include the Chinese divisions of HSBC and Standard Chartered.
But new regulations will allow smaller financial institutions to freely trade on the Shanghai Gold Exchange and internationally.
The liberalized trading rules will eventually give hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens new access to gold-linked investment products.
And this creates the perfect scenario for gold's price to finally soar over its inflation-adjusted record high of $2,500 an ounce.
China’s gold market liberalization sends a strong demand signal and it's very positive for the price of gold. It is a structural demand shift which must result in higher gold prices as the global equation has changed now significantly with more gold consumers and investors. -LGT Capital Management, voted "Private Equity Manager of the Year" 2007–2009.
The international gold market is now paying a lot more attention to China's gold demand, not just from an official reserve asset perspective, but also private demand. Behind India, China is the second-largest physical consumer. Therefore any step to integrate, liberalize, and expand this market should, in time, foster a rising appetite for gold.– UBS, the world's second largest manager of private wealth assets.The demand for gold in China has already increased during the first half of this year as concerns over the global economic recovery spurred investment.
China National Gold Group Corp.—the country's largest state-owned gold producer—even reported a 40% increase of gold bar and coin sales over the past six months.
The total volume of gold traded on the Shanghai Gold Exchange jumped 59% in H110 to a stoutly 102.1 Moz. (3,175 tons).
China's gold investment demand market is strong. But only 0.00197 ounces of gold are currently bought annually per person for investment.
But rising personal incomes and a higher standard of living for hundreds of millions of Chinese will continue to encourage legions of new investors into the gold market.
The New Chinese "Golden" Class
The Chinese people are well known to be earnest savers. The average savings rate in China is 30%–40%. Compare this to the average 6% savings rate in the United States. But according to the World Gold Council, U.S. gold investment demand per capita is 5.6x higher.
The people of the United States are not the biggest investors of gold. That title belongs to the Indians. But if the Chinese began buying gold for investment purposes on the same level as Americans, total world gold demand would shoot 10.2% higher.
World Gold Investment Demand
- World investment demand for gold has increased 250% in the past 10 years.
- Sales of official gold coins like the American Gold Eagle have increased 618% since 2007.
- Gold demand for ETFs has increased 20,470% since 2002.
Right now, China is the world's largest gold producer. The country is expected to increase mine production by 5% this year to 330 tons, again solidifying the nation's position as the world's #1 producer.
But despite the country's position among global gold production leaders, nationwide output will not be able to satisfy China's ravenously growing demand for gold as a safe-haven investment.
And this is exactly why the Chinese Government recently decided to "increase the number of commercial banks who are qualified to import and export gold" and warm up to foreign investment. It allows the country to more effectively balance the supply and demand of gold.
In the past, the Chinese government has specifically encouraged its citizens to own gold and silver.
Last summer, the Chinese government introduced the state's first ever opportunity to invest in official silver bullion. (Video.)
Recent deregulation of China's mining sector and the streamlining of permitting and approval processes has created a premier investment environment for mineral exploration, development and production companies.
Dozens of companies are already working to quickly develop gold projects to supply the Chinese feeding frenzy for the yellow metal. Following are two companies that are quickly developing gold projects in China.
Mundoro Capital is a well-financed and debt-free exploration and development company focused on the advanced-stage Maoling Gold Project in Northeast China.
The company was invited into the country by the government in 1999 to help develop the Maoling gold deposit.
A Chinese joint venture company, Liaoning Tianli Mining Company Ltd., was formed to develop Maoling into a national model for large-scale, environmentally friendly and economically sustainable gold mining operations. The JV company left Mundoro with a 79% interest in Tianli.
After three years of extensive exploration, which included the drilling of 176 holes totaling over 46,000m, the Maoling Gold Project is now a multimillion-ounce, feasibility-stage gold project.
An official resource statement (published February 2006) estimated the Maoling gold deposit to contain 4.8 Moz. gold in the M&I mineral resource category and an additional 4.4M. contained gold ounces in the Inferred category.
For the past few years, Mundoro has been planning the development of a large-scale, open-pit mining and milling operation at Maoling. However, the company has recently received letters from its Chinese JV partner suggesting the termination the Maoling gold project.
Without regard to its JV partner's suggestion, Mundoro says it does not intend to end the JV and believes the work completed at the project proves it could be developed and sustained.
Inter-Citic Minerals Inc. (TSX:ICI) is a gold exploration and development company that is rapidly advancing its 83%-owned Dachang Gold Project, a newly discovered high-grade gold deposit in Western China.
A recently published NI 43-101-compliant update estimates that the Dachang Gold Project contains 1.88 Moz. gold in the M&I resource category and 1.51 Moz. in the Inferred category.
Last year, a Preliminary Economic Assessment estimated that total capital expenditures for the construction of a mine at Dachang would be just over $100M. The assessment estimated production costs of about $400/oz. with a total capital payback in less than two years. Overall, the Dachang gold deposit is modeled to produce 165 Koz. gold annually for nine years.
Inter-Citic is currently drilling 25,000m into several new gold exploration targets. This year's exploration program is geared to expand the company's resource base and firm up final production models. Meanwhile, Inter-Citic continues to advance the feasibility and permitting processes for Dachang.
The company's success has already attracted the attention of major mining investment firms, including the Zijin Mining Group—China's largest gold producer with over 2.5 Moz. annual output. With a market cap of over $20B, Zijin recently acquired 19.15% of Inter-Citic.
Other investors include two Hong Kong tycoon families, which own approximately 30% of the company.
So, in a Nutshell
Gold prices will be bolstered by the liberalization of China's new international trading rules that will give hundreds of millions of savings-smart citizens access to gold—the universal safe-haven.
New measures will also continue to strongly support foreign investment. And companies with well-established positions in Chinese gold assets may be leveraged to take advantage of sharp increases in local demand.
Editor, Wealth Daily
Investment Director, Hard Money Millionaire and Underground Profits
P.S. To learn more about China's rapidly developing precious metal industry, check out my recent Wealth Daily article, China's Silver Bull Market