BENGALURU – Gold prices rose for a second straight day on Thursday as risk averse sentiment amid weaker oil prices drove up the demand for the metal, with a softer dollar and weakness in US Treasury yields also lending support.
Spot gold rose 0.5% to $1 252.41/oz at 0812 GMT. It rose 0.3% in the previous session, its largest intraday percentage change since June 6.
US gold futures for August delivery rose 0.6% to $1 253.30/oz.
“A softer US dollar and a risk-off bias following the recent declines to crude saw gold turn higher during Asian hours on Thursday,” MKS PAMP trader Sam Laughlin said in a note.
Oil turned lower on Thursday after posting gains earlier in the session as traders look ready to test new lows for crude prices with worries persisting over a global glut. [O/R]
“The uncontrolled oil price spill in the futures markets may have seen some traders pushing the risk aversion button and buying gold,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda.
“The primary driver appears to be the flattening of the longer-dated US Treasury curve.”
The US Treasury yield curve flattened to almost ten-year lows on Wednesday as investors evaluated the impact of hawkish Federal Reserve policy on the economy even as inflation measures are deteriorating.
US home resales unexpectedly rose in May to the third highest monthly level in a decade and a chronic inventory shortage pushed the median home price to an all-time high.
Gold is highly sensitive to rising rates and yields, which increase the opportunity cost of holding nonyielding assets such as bullion while boosting the dollar, in which it is priced.
“Investors are waiting for any clues on whether the timing of the next rate hike is September or December,” said Ronald Leung, chief dealer at Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.
Spot gold may bounce more into a range of $1 257 to $1 261/oz, as it has cleared a resistance at $1 251 according to Reuters technical analyst Wang Tao.
The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six currencies, retreated from a one-month high of 97.871 set on Tuesday.
Holdings in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.04% to 853.98 tonnes on Wednesday.
Among other precious metals, silver gained 1% to $16.61/oz. Platinum touched its highest in a week during the session and was up 0.6% to $929.20/oz, while palladium slipped 0.8% to $880.99/oz.
The Portuguese set foot in South Africa in the 15th century, and the Dutch settled at the “Cape of Storms” in 1652. But the noses of the first interlopers into southern Africa were not sharp enough to fore-smell Kimberley’s hidden diamonds or the Witwatersrand’s entombed gold.
Diamonds were only discovered in 1867 at Kimberley, and, 19 years later, gold on the Witwatersrand.
The group – of mainly Englishmen and Jews – that descended on Kimberley, following the discovery of diamonds was largely the same bunch of money-mongers who flocked to the Witwatersrand when news of gold broke.
By the time the Witwatersrand became the new Mecca of wealth seekers, Kimberley had already produced a diamond cartel led by Cecil John Rhodes – including such outstanding figures as Alfred Beit, Charles Rudd, Barney Barnato, Julius Wernher, J. B. Robinson, Jules Porgès, H. L. Eckstein, Lionel Phillips, and others.
In Kimberley, Rhodes persuaded most of these men – some of whom were initially his arch-enemies, such as Barnato – to form a cartel to control the price of diamonds in London, then the centre of the global diamond trade. De Beers became the cartelised company, named after brothers Johannes and Diederik De Beer, who had sold the land on which the diamonds were discovered.
On the Witwatersrand, these men formed many gold companies financed by money they had made at Kimberley and through investments from London, Paris, Berlin, and the US.
Although Rhodes was by no means the richest his company, the Goldfields Company, was among the giants.
The wage negotiations in the gold mining sector will start in two weeks, the Chamber of Mines said on Tuesday.
“The industry is at a crossroad. We need a measured and strategic conversation between partners with the aim of jointly considering ways to achieve a sustainable industry that attracts investment and offers a level of employment security within realistic parameters,” said Chamber of Mines chief negotiator, Elize Strydom.
“This clearly requires a different approach to negotiations – an approach that provides for in-depth, focused engagements and joint solution-seeking discussions. The gold companies will be tabling a proposal on an economic and social sustainability compact for the long-term benefit of all the stakeholders.”
Representatives from AngloGold Ashanti, Evander Gold Mines, Harmony, Sibanye Gold and Village Main Reef met on Tuesday with representatives from the Association of Mining and Construction Workers Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mine workers (NUM), Solidarity and Uasa to discuss the parties’ approach to the 2015 wage negotiations and the process to be followed.
The gold producers proposed to the unions that engagement be conducted at a venue that provided for both large plenary and focused meetings that could not be provided for in the Chamber of Mines’ building, as well as an independent chairperson.
“These proposals were accepted by all four unions. On this basis, the companies advise that gold wage negotiations will commence on 22 June 2015, and are scheduled for three days,” said Strydom.
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The biggest mining super-cycle in recent memory, beginning in the early 2000s and fueled by unprecedented emerging market growth, is now history: Head-counts have been slashed, fleets parked and exploration budgets flattened, with profits falling by 71 percent to $20 billion by 2013. This year, with the plunge of copper – and most base metals – the bottom fell out completely.
In the background, a different type of erosion has long since begun: Wholesale sustainability cutbacks – the timing of which could hardly be worse. A 2014 Harvard study crystallized the urgency, reporting projects worth between $3 billion and $5 billion posting $20 million losses from weekly delays. Embedded ever-deeper in frontier nations amid resource depletion, moreover, the true price for community conflicts is increasingly impossible to calculate – not least after production resumes at major operations.
Recognized as crucial to risk, reputation, access to capital and, increasingly, financial performance, sustainability is no stranger to the mainstream – with 72 percent of the S&P 500 and trillions of “responsibly-managed” assets in agreement. In mining, one of the world’s most balance-sheet driven, upstream sectors, meanwhile, the cost-benefit is often far less clear – yielding a unique opening for impact investors and others attuned to shared value in a circular economy.
On a planet hosting more than 2,000 mechanized mines, “writ-large” potential lies in the balance, according to people like Gavin Power, deputy director of the United Nations Global Compact, a partner to the U.N. Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI) which represents more than $34 trillion in assets under management.
“The industry has an historic opportunity to be the solution to global problems,” he said. “It covers labor, the environment, anti-corruption; it’s all-encompassing” – as are the UNPRI’s 1,250 signatories which represent 20 percent of global capital markets.
With its massive gold and platinum reserves – and more than 90 major protests over basic services through 2014 – South Africa provides an ecosystem of case studies. Top miner Anglo American, for one, has transformed operations wastewater into potable water for 80,000 villagers east of Johannesburg in a reverse-osmosis project now doubling in size – and being replicated nearby by giants BHP Billiton and Glencore. Other local Anglo initiatives address poverty through business grants in addition to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
Participation by non-traditional investors in such endeavors is emblematic of a true triple bottom line: ensuring lasting positive impacts and maintenance of a social license to operate – ahead of a resurgence in commodities growth. Despite a weak global economy and a stockpiling of metals on the Chinese mainland, prospects for mining have seldom been better for long-term investors – and economic inclusiveness at its best.
Social impact entrepreneurs, whose cross-industry activities advance social performance before financial returns, can make a decisive difference. “Your company may be the first into a market where structures are weak, talent scarce and customers suspicious – while your trial-and-error may develop health care providers that can touch tens of millions of lives,” Matt Bannick, managing partner of Omidyar Network, wrote in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) in mineral extraction itself is relatively new – even newer is the risk mitigation that drives institutional investment decisions, particularly among larger European banks, insurers and pension funds. Yet despite its dire need, systematic, proactive financial engagement remains elusive – even as successful examples abound worldwide.
As a nation, Chile, the world’s leading copper producer, is an innovator: In 2011, for instance, Santiago’s Mining Ministry joined 250 Chilean businesses to transforming them into world-class suppliers. Through $54 billion in investment, the World Bank now forecasts the 709,000 jobs servicing and supplying the mining industry to grow “substantially” – generating across-the-board prosperity any financier could wish for.
Owing to its vast mining industry, Chile is further energizing extractive firms across the continent – and Africa, Australia and beyond – to economize through renewable power. Here, too, opportunities for synergy are limitless – especially given the recent announcement of a global investor coalition committing $600 billion to carbon tracking and reduction by December.
One of the biggest challenges to aligning mining with the impact investing community in institutional terms is purely practical: In recent years, sustainability reporting has made impressive progress, yet beyond voluntary frameworks, categorically concrete and enforceable benchmarks remain elusive – despite extensive global efforts.
But the greatest gap is a socio-cultural one. Impact investors and miners inhabit separate worlds: One is often high-profile and cause-focused with deep commitments to change; miners, on the other hand, are introverted, hardworking and usually stubborn – their data-driven calculations, often bound by convention and legacy, lie almost exclusively below ground.
Yet both are united where it matters most – by a relentless, can-do attitude. And while standards and metrics mature, possibilities stand to resonate amid undeniably cyclical opportunities – and prospects for investment-driven change by the mining sector continues to swell.
Source: Triple Pundit
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