This week, Chuck Jeannes told The Wall Street Journal that either this year or next, miners will have reached “peak gold.” Peak gold means that the amount of gold being pulled out of the earth will begin to shrink every year, rather than increase, which has been the case since the 1970s. Jeannes is the chief executive of the world’s largest gold mining company, Goldcorp, so it’s probably safe to assume he knows a thing or two about mining the yellow metal.
Let’s put this into context. Central banks continue to stockpile gold (even Scotland is wondering how much of the United Kingdom’s gold it will get if it becomes an independent country). Nobody knows how much gold China is hoarding, but pretty much everyone assumes it’s a lot more than the official reports. Smart economists like Peter Schiff and Jim Rickards have been pointing out for a year now that gold buyers throughout Asia are accumulating more and more gold from Western investors, and they have almost no intention of selling it.
For physical precious metals investors, all of this news should hit home. What happens when this robust demand for gold runs up against the hard limits of the mining industry? This is simple supply and demand – prices go up.
“As gold production declines, the miner’s job becomes harder, as companies compete for increasingly rare deposits. Discoveries have already tapered off. In 1995, 22 gold deposits with at least two million ounces of gold each were discovered, according to SNL Metals Economics Group. In 2010, there were six such discoveries, and in 2011 there was one. In 2012: nothing.”
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