Majors Maintain Gold Reserves

At the end of 2015, the top 20 gold-producing companies held more than 760 million ounces (oz) of gold reserves— sufficient for 16 years of production at 2015 rates, according to SNL Metals & Mining. They accomplished this while increasing their combined production 7% over the previous 10 years, from 39.7 million oz in 2006 to 42.5 million oz in 2015, and producing a total of 403 million oz of gold.

At the same time, the 20 major gold companies replaced an average of 151% of their production over the period through a combination of acquisitions and exploration. They added 670.9 million oz of reserves through acquisition and exploration with costs totaling $77.7 billion between 2006 and 2015, for an average cost of $115.81/oz of gold.

Among the 20 companies, 16 had positive reserves growth, net of production, and four had negative net growth, with Polyus Gold and Newcrest Mining leading with the highest growth. In terms of reserves-replacement rate, China National Gold topped the list, replacing 400% of its 9.4 million oz of production, and Polyus Gold and Zijin Mining shared second place, each with a replacement rate of 370%.

Nineteen of the 20 companies made acquisitions during the period, buying more than 253 million oz of gold reserves for $61.02 billion, for an average cost of $241/oz. Barrick Gold topped the list, having acquired more than 60.4 million oz of gold reserves between 2006 and 2015 at an average cost of $177.25/oz. Gold Fields took second place with the acquisition of 37.4 million oz.

The group developed 417.7 million oz of gold reserves by budgeting $16.68 billion, or $39.93/oz, for gold exploration. Polyus added 55.8 million oz by budgeting $567 million, or $10.17/oz, followed by AngloGold Ashanti, which added 44.2 million oz with exploration budgets totaling $2.53 billion, an average of $57.29/oz. Only 11 of the 20 major gold producers reported shares in large discoveries, either alone or in joint ventures, AngloGold being the most successful with 73.3 million oz of gold in reserves and resources found in 7.1 attributable discoveries. Barrick was next with 31.6 million oz in 3.3 attributable discoveries. Polyus had three attributable discoveries containing 22.7 million oz.

As featured in Womp 2017 Vol 12 -