There have been a number of commentators out there telling us that the global gold mining industry has already reached peak output (Peak Gold), but according to Jeff Christian, one of the most astute gold analysts out there, we have not actually reached this yet. Jeff runs the New York based CPM Group metals analysis consultancy which is due to release its Gold Yearbook 2017 later this week.
Jeff differentiates between what he calls Peak Gold and Peaking Gold. The former he describes as the concept that the world is running out of mineable gold deposits, which he refers to as ‘hokum’. There are many well known projects and deposits, he says, and also estimates and geologically based scientifically supported views that there is plenty of gold in mineable deposits yet to be discovered around the world.
Some are in remote places that have not been adequately explored, like eastern Russia and much of China, the Tibetan plateau, the inner Amazon. Some are likely in plain sight, but may be uneconomic to mine, or too costly to develop, with current technology and at current metal prices.
He goes on to comment that any failure to find new gold orebodies reflects human missteps, not a lack of geological deposits. When you take current exploration expenditures and (a) deflate them for inflation and (b) adjust them for fluctuations in the quality and quantity of data parsing, you find that the amount of real money being spent on exploration for metals in general and gold in particular actually is a fraction of what it was in the glory days of discoveries in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Furthermore, an increasing proportion of ‘exploration’ expenditures is being sucked up in costly computer modeling programs. Computer models are based on past discoveries. Just as the pharmaceuticals industry is suffering from a dearth of new drug discoveries because it has shifted from laboratory work to computer generated concepts and models, so too the mining exploration industry is consigning itself to only discovering deposits similar to ones discovered in the past.
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