Long term gold price to defy past fortnight, says Sharps Pixley

South Africa’s gold output has fallen to the same level as 1922, which is why the long term gold price is still supported by supply fundamentals, says precious metals trader Sharps Pixley.

London Gold AM fixing price fell 3.1% during the week as of 15 March, the second worst week since the week of 16 December. This fall has been largely attributed to the worry that the Fed would not embark on further quantitative easing and the strength in dollar against the Euro (0.3%) and Yen (+1.3%) this week. Analyst such as Dennis Gartman called the fear trade is over as global activity is getting better, bond yield surging and money is moving away from gold.

At the close of New York trading on Thursday, Comex April futures rebounded 1%, spurred by physical gold demand from India and the surge in sales in American Eagle gold coins to 23,500 ounces March-to-date which exceeded February’s sales, reported Bloomberg.

One piece of data particularly struck us this week. This relates to the South African January gold production volume which fell a whopping 11.3%. South Africa Chamber of Mines expected this year’s production to be 220 tonnes which is back to the level achieved in 1922. South Africa used to be the world’s largest gold producer, producing 80% of the world’s share back in 1970 or about 1,000 tonnes of gold per year, according to Goldseek. Now, because of maturing old mines, rising costs and mining safety problems due to deeper and deeper deposits need to be mined, South Africa produces only about 15% of world’s production. Declining South African production largely contributes to the supply constraint in gold.

In last week’s PDAC conference, a mineral industry-renowned conference annually held since 1932, miners complained of rising costs and financing difficulty which means headwind in gold production. The Metals Economics Group (MEG) highlighted that both the size of new deposits and quality/grade are declining. The gestation period between discovery and first production has now extended to 14 years, according to JP Morgan.

Therefore, the long-term supply outlook will continue be constrained which is a key fundamental support factor for gold price.

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