Major gold miners face a dilemma - robust demand for their product, but question marks over how they will meet demand. Annual gold production is currently running at record levels, but will it be able to sustain itself - given slashed exploration budgets, falling levels of new discoveries and declining reserves? It's little wonder that market watchers like BMO Capital Markets anticipate that mine supply will peak during 2019, then keep falling through to at least 2025. Randgold Resources' CEO Mark Bristow, an industry veteran, is of a similar view. In the past, new technologies were able to keep old deposits going longer and make previously uneconomic ones viable. However the industry is not finding as many new deposits as they need to in order to maintain current production levels. Although we can expect incremental technological improvements in processing, mining, and exploration, there is nothing revolutionary on the horizon. Reserves from aging deposits are not being replaced by new discoveries, a situation exacerbated by rising exploration and development costs, as well as development hurdles like sovereign risk and project financing.
I have been a senior resources analyst following the fortunes of the mining and energy sectors for the past 25 years - previously working with stockbroker Intersuisse and financial group Fat Prophets. I am also Executive Director, Mining & Metals...
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