Gold Is Flying High, but Getting Harder to Mine – by Alistair MacDonald (Wall Street Journal – August 2020)

Gold miners are riding high as the metal trades at record prices, but digging it out of the ground is getting harder.

Gold is among the rarest metals in the earth’s crust and much of the easier-to-get ore has already been mined. What is left is harder to find and more expensive to extract, miners say.

While that isn’t an immediate worry, with gold prices hitting $2,000 an ounce for the first time this month, miners face the longer-term prospect of higher costs and drilling in less hospitable places. A sharp selloff in gold this week also reminded companies that high prices can’t be taken for granted.

Gold prices are up around 28% this year. Miners have used the rally to pay down debt and increase dividends, rather than start new projects, with executives wary of repeating their costly overexpansion during the last big run-up in prices.

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