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World gold supply trend ‘tragic’ – Barrick founder Munk

May 7, 2008 at 20:30 by Mario

The failure of the gold-mining industry to find and exploit large new deposits of the yellow metal was “tragic”, Barrick Gold chairperson and acting CEO Peter Munk said on Tuesday.
“The supply side is tragic…it is the very challenge that keeps a company like Barrick and the remaining few major gold companies totally preoccupied,” he said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
“We’re running out of major gold deposits, and the deposits we do have become increasingly difficult to come on stream.”
Opposition from nongovernmental organisations, as well as increasing, “yet understandable” demands from host countries that they receive a bigger share of profits from mines, was making it difficult to develop successful new operations.
CEO Greg Wilkins, who attended the meeting although he is on an extended leave of absence owing to a serious illness, agreed that global mine production was “challenged”.
“Existing mines are maturing, have lower grades and are producing less,” Wilkins said.
Further, despite record levels of spending by the industry on exploration, there had been virtually no major new discoveries in recent years.
Richard O’Brien, who heads the third-largest gold producer by volume, Newmont Mining made similar comments earlier this year.
O’Brien said at the time that discovering big new gold deposits was becoming an increasing challenge for the industry.
Global gold production would likely continue to decline, as fewer large, economically mineable deposits are discovered, he predicted.
Barrick, the world’s biggest gold producer, ousted Newmont from the top spot in 2006 when it bought smaller rival Placer Dome.
The company has budgeted $200-million for exploration this year, compared with the $179-million spent in 2007.

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