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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Today’s low gold prices guarantee a supply shortage by the end of the decade, the FT says

Gold bugs, take heart: Today’s low price could guarantee “a supply shortage by the end of the decade,” the Financial Times (paywall) writes. “Bullion’s only modest price recovery this year compared with other commodities has led the industry to cut spending on exploration dramatically … [a] supply shortage will be inevitable unless some major discoveries of large, high-grade ore bodies are suddenly made. ‘Which frankly seems a remote possibility.’” The piece notes that major players have been tepid on M&A, focusing instead on efficiencies at existing asset as well as “free-cash flow generation and dividends.” Fresh debt is in short supply, the paper says, and capital spending “has fallen to less than half its USD 25 bn peak in 2012.” Oh, and mine production? It has plateaued.

With production “falling off a cliff in a few years” (as one industry veteran put it, “analysts at BMO Capital markets predicting a peak of gold supply in 2019,” make it likely that acquisitions “may not be the focus now, but will be required longer-term.”

Bonus: Egypt’s Centamin gets a shout-out as the piece notes that part of the focus going forward will be on new territories such as Egypt and Iran.

Elsewhere, the dream of a natural gas market the functions like the one for oil just won’t die, with the Wall Street Journal (paywall) reporting that “Two U.S. exchanges plan to launch derivatives that could make it easier to trade a type of natural gas, potentially revolutionizing this market in the way that the Brent and West Texas Intermediate benchmarks did for crude oil.” With more and more natural gas moving around the world by ship instead of pipeline, there’s now an embryonic spot market, making it “easier to launch futures contracts, which will attract a wider pool of investors while offering the sort of real-time prices currently available in oil, gold and many other major commodities. Companies and investors use commodities-futures markets to speculate on the price of a commodity and to hedge its risk against turns in the market. … Currently, buyers and sellers mainly agree to yearslong LNG contracts priced off oil, gas that is piped, and price reporting agencies’ data. There is no global price benchmark for LNG.”

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