TGR: When I talk to people about mining in the United States, it's not all one thing. Depending on the state, the country risk can be very different.
JG: It does vary by state. Nevada is a key one for the gold miners. But together, the United States delivered 231 tons in 2012.
TGR: Russia, at 230 tons, is also a net consumer of gold.
JG: Some Canadian companies have done an excellent job of navigating the environment there and being successful investing there, but the government has been inconsistent toward mining and most foreign investors are a little worried about what the government may do, for example, with their licenses. It's always been a higher-risk jurisdiction.
TGR: Overall, do you see that the price of gold fluctuates based on actual supply and demand factors or just macroeconomic headlines that might indicate a change in demand factors in the future, for instance if people lost confidence in the dollar and bought gold as a store of value?
JG: Speculation as to whether the U.S. Fed will continue to taper can have an impact. because if the money supply increases that's positive for gold. We do see people buying based on what governments are doing.
The other factor that is interesting about gold is current-year demand is simply current-year demand. Full stop. Current-year supply, however, is not simply just the gold that was produced in that year, because unlike other commodities, gold isn't consumed; sometimes gold produced in prior years comes on to the market. For example, if sentiment toward holding gold decreases, ETFs that hold physical gold can get flooded with redemption requests, so they need to sell their physical gold, thereby decreasing the price of gold. Demand can go up and down a bit based on the price of gold, but often the factors are external. I think going forward we are looking at a favorable market for gold.
Current-year demand is very high compared to current-year supply coming from current-year production. China will continue to be a net importer. Those economies are getting richer and they're growing a lot faster than the rest of the world. As those countries grow there's going to be more demand for gold. The gold producers have had a very difficult time getting more production operational in this funding climate. If we don't have prior year supply coming on to the market, I think it's a positive supply/demand story for gold.
TGR: Thank you for your time.
Eric Sprott has more than 40 years of experience in the investment industry. In 1981, he founded Sprott Securities (now called Cormark Securities Inc.), which today is one of Canada's largest independently owned securities firms. After establishing Sprott Asset Management Inc. in December 2001 as a separate entity, Sprott divested his entire ownership of Sprott Securities to its employees. Sprott's predictions on the state of the North American financial markets have been captured throughout the last several years in an investment strategy article that he authors titled "Markets At A Glance." Sprott has been widely recognized for his strategic insights and his accurate market predictions over the years. His newest ventures are Sprott Money Ltd., one of Canada's largest owners of gold and silver bullion, and the recently launched Sprott Physical Platinum and Palladium Trust.
John Gravelle is the global and Canadian mining leader for PwC, based in Toronto. Gravelle assists several large mining companies with operations in the Americas address their business issues. He is also a tax services partner and provides tax advice to numerous large- and medium-size producers as well as junior exploration companies.