“There’s gold in them thar hills!”

Over a century old but Mark Twain’s sentiment remains that there are riches to be found. For thousands of years, gold has been a popular choice of investment and a consumer good. The complexity of gold makes it enormously hard to understand, even for those in the gold mining industry.

As a new investor myself, I am on a steep learning curve to find out as much as I can about investing in gold, so that I can make sensible investments with my own money. So please do join me on my discovery of gold production and the journey I am now on to find out how to make the safest investments, with the biggest returns! Please do feel free to make suggestions and comments below, which will both help me and other potential investors in the gold market. Remember you once stood where I stand now! We all have different needs and goals from our investments and each of us will come at it with different knowledge and expectations.

So how should investors make informed decisions when they don’t understand what drives the price of gold? It appears that it is mainly driven by demand and alterations in reserves, rather than purely from the gold mine supply. As investors, we are looking for a strong return on our investment. Without good management, no asset can be successful. I am looking at company track records, are they flatlining or they making good decisions and producing more gold at lower cost? A profitable company is not necessarily going to make me money… this week I learned about ‘Shorting’… but more of that another time. What I did know walking into this is that I only make money if I sell my shares for more than I bought them for.

Tempting as it would be to go out on a ‘gold rush’, the inexperienced investor must understand the importance of looking at a company’s management experience, the corporate structure, their assets, their financial position and how they promote themselves to the market and investors. The saying goes that “a fool and his money are soon parted.” There is a ‘gold minefield’ of information out there but this often overlooked. Finding out as much as possible about a company, their experience and management structure, assets and financial position is crucial before investing. Lacking gold mining ‘know-how’ makes it notoriously difficult to make sensible decisions on future investments. Some people make money from investing in gold and some lose, so if you have any tips for me on making money and good investments, please do highlight these below. I am grateful for all shared knowledge.

Investing issues and the value of gold

As part of my research, I have found encouraging quotes from the financial markets:

“‘The value of gold hit a six-and-a-half-year high at $1,546/oz at the start of September 2019, driven by investor sentiment and macroeconomic factors,” in its latest ‘GFMS Gold Survey’. Over the third quarter of the year, gold recorded a “spectacular” performance, with its dollar value appreciating by 12%, compared with the prior quarter, and was valued at 22% more year-on-year, at an average of $1 472/oz. (9)

“Further, a visible shift among the world’s key central banks towards a more accommodative monetary policy this year has seen investors flee back to safety, making gold shine even brighter.” (6)

It is estimated that ‘the production globally of gold will break new record levels of between 3,380t and 3,390t this year, which would be an increase from the 3,332t reported in 2018’. (6)

I have discovered that it would be unwise to only invest in gold though, as it can be high risk. Although it should not be dismissed as an investment, as it can be a ‘store of wealth’. It is cited that investors turn to gold, when they are ‘scared’, which in turn boosts the value of gold, when stocks are falling.

Adding to my confusion is whether gold is seen as a commodity or a ‘non-printable’ currency. Experts argue over this endlessly, but many will see it as behaving as both, but nevertheless it is seen as a ‘global monetary asset’. Gold has many uses and purposes and it is in constant world-wide demand, always available for use and not typically consumed like other commodities.

I also identified that investors will often look at the Environmental, Social and Corporate governance (ESG) of an and how it manages risk through environmental, social and governance issues. Sustainable investing! Yes, a company’s organisation when evaluating the financial health of a company, their long-term business performance who promote their business with strong environmental, social, ethical values in accordance with corporate governance seek to generate positive returns. Investors who are socially minded will be encouraged to invest in an organisation which endeavours to manage its carbon footprint and have a positive long-term impact on the local community of the mine, the environment and the company.

The jurisdiction, geopolitical and economic state of the country producing the gold will affect gold production. Is it stable or uncertain? Are there concerns of lower interest rates or a slowdown in economic growth? Are there issues with the government? Trade disputes, access to licences and permits, power supplies, riots and political unrest, difficult climate conditions limiting mining prospects, accessibility of water, transport issues or access to skilled labour, all provide their share of difficulty. These are very real and important issues to consider, as they will all affect the gold production, availability and cost price.

When investing, it appears that market downs can often boost investment demand for gold. Competing assets, such as bonds can also influence gold attitudes and price trends and capital flow can affect the performance of gold. Some questions we should be asking ourselves are: Is there enough investment in infrastructure? Is it a well-trodden path? Is there potential for global expansion? Are there restrictions on cash?

So much to learn and take in, it makes it even more complicated when I think about parting with my money.

The streets of London are paved with gold

Initially, I have decided to look at two gold mining producers who have many similarities but who also who have differences. One is a large producer and one is a small to medium producer.

I feel that the similarities are that they are both are UK based companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. They are both honest companies and successful in mining high-grade gold from two underground mines, with strong management teams. Both offer steady growth and dividends to shareholders and both make money when the share price goes up. Both face operational issues within the jurisdictions that they work in. I shall give some background detail about each company and invite you to ‘dig deeper’ through the links!

The two companies are Pan African Resources (large) (AIM: PAF) in South Africa and Serabi Gold (small and soon to become medium) (AIM: SRB) in South America.

Serabi Gold is listed on the London Stock Exchange https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/prices-and-markets/stocks/summary/company-summary/GB00BG5NDX91GBGBXASX1.html

An aerial photo of Palito Gold Mine.
Palito Gold Mine

Mike Hodgson is the CEO at Serabi Gold. He had interview recently with Matthew Gordon of Ptolemy Capital and Crux Investor https://cruxinvestor.com/opinions/serabi-gold-lse-srb-tsx-sbi-steady-growth-for-shareholders-at-last/.  

I like www.cruxinvestor.com as they have an easy style and less technical of interviewing but get in to the important detail with the CEO. The CEO has a chance to explain the strategy and story as the interviews tend to be 30-50mins.

As a gold exploration and production company, Serabi Gold is based in North-central Brazil and is involved in the development of gold deposits in the area.

They own the Palito Mining Complex, which is currently producing approximately 40,000 ounces per annum. While this is deemed as relatively small, their gold production should double when their recently acquired Coringa Gold Project goes fully into production. This should increase their standing to a medium size producer and could make this a less risky investment.

We got the right team in and the formula for success has been the mining. My saying always is ‘grade pays, tonnes cost

Mike Hodgson

Serabi Gold has a very long and successful history of operation in this area of Brazil and takes its relationships with local communities seriously.  They are keen to ensure their long-term impact on society; the environment and that business holds strong.

During the above-mentioned interview Mike was asked about the team around him and their level of experience and this was his response:

“We got the right team in and the formula for success has been the mining. My saying always is ‘grade pays, tonnes cost’”. (3)

Some of the difficulties that are faced by Serabi Gold are maintaining the supply of power, internet communication, together with conditions such as water filling trenches. They also come up against difficult climate and terrain with a tropical high humidity climate, tropical jungle tree canopy and a wet season between October and April. These factors play their part, but the company does state that work can still be carried our year-round.

Other risk factors that play a role include political changes in Brazil, regulatory issues, changes in law together with social unrest, currency exchange fluctuation and the changes in the gold price. All these factors have made me think about how difficult gold production is.  Serabi Gold is overcoming these issues, with excellent results.

The share price has risen this year following a period of 3-4 years of being relatively static. This move in share price would appear to be because investors see the acquisition of Coringa as an indication of the company’s growth ambitions as a gold producer.

Pan African Resources is also listed on the London Stock Exchange https://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/prices-and-markets/stocks/summary/company-summary/GB0004300496GBGBXAMSM.html

A photo of two maintenance workers checking mining equipment.
Pan African Maintenance Workers

Cobus Loots is the CEO and he also had a recent interview with Crux Investor https://cruxinvestor.com/opinions/pan-african-resources-aim-paf-a-dividend-paying-gold-producer/

Pan African is based in South Africa. They are a mid-tier African-focussed gold producer with a production capacity in excess of 170,000oz of gold per annum. They own and operate a portfolio of high-quality, low-cost operations and projects and they like to grow business in a value-accretive manner to benefit stakeholders and that meet their stringent investment criteria.

Pan African has two large underground gold mining complexes, one at Barberton, one at Evander. Cobus Loots said “Operationally we exceeded our production guidance for the year past. That’s obviously quite a positive. Actually, from all operations we had an improved performance. Pan African has emerged at year-end as a safe, low-cost and long-life gold producer, following the successful execution of our strategy.” Asked whether he plans to raise any more money for capital expansion programmes, he responded “We are funded as far as the existing projects are concerned. So, there’s no need for us to go to market. I think the shareholders want to see us deliver on what we said we would do. 2019 was a first or second step in doing that and 2020 should be more of the same.” So, to me this says no more dilution of investors shares. That’s a good thing”. (4)

Pan African has emerged at year-end as a safe, low-cost and long-life gold producer

Cobus Loots

The South African Government has established targets for the mining industry in terms of social development and community upliftment that are laid out in the Mining Charter. President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined the “steady, but sure” progress being made to make South Africa a “more competitive investment destination”. An Investment Fund being set up to attract both public and private finance. (6)

With a large focus on seeking sustainable growth, Pan African invest in their time and efforts in ESG. They understand that this can positively affect their long-term business performance and health of their company through strong risk management. There is a chequered history in South Africa, and they are operating in an environment fraught with risk because of unionisation issues, artisanal miners, high unemployment in the country which has led to rioting.  With all these factors to deal with, Pan African strives to be a low all-in sustaining cost (AISAC) producer of gold in South Africa.

I have to say I admired the way both CEO’s talked honestly about the difficulty of mining and didn’t appear to be trying hide anything or mislead me.

So, to invest or not to invest, that is the question?

Please look at the Crux Investor website and the company profile pages https://cruxinvestor.com/companies/. I found it useful. I included the links for both Serabi Gold and Pan African Resources in my short company summaries. The company pages will give insight and provide you with more detailed information about the issues each company is facing. You will also find a profile, financials and a stock chart for each company listed. There is a magnitude of opportunity, when you know what you are doing. Read and learn!

After this initial research, I am personally still not ready to invest yet and will continue to research and do my homework. I know that there are deals to be done, but there will always be deals to be done in the future too. So, I won’t rush into anything, neither will I miss out. My money is valuable to me and before I part with my money, I also need to consider investing my money into other sectors, such as technology, manufacturing or healthcare. All these sectors are cyclical, sometimes going up and sometimes on a downward trend.

Your thoughts on this will really benefit me and other readers. Maybe you can help me understand what makes a good company to invest in and I welcome your thoughts on this. Some people make money, some people loose money. Should I keep my money in my pocket?

Sources:

  1. Crux Investor https://cruxinvestor.com/about-us/index.php
  2. London Stock Exchange https://www.londonstockexchange.com/home/homepage.htm
  3. Serabi Gold https://www.serabigold.com/
  4. Pan African Resources https://www.panafricanresources.com/
  5. World Gold Council https://www.gold.org/ and https://www.gold.org/goldhub/data/production-costs  
  6. Mining Weekly https://www.miningweekly.com/page/latest-news
  7. Wealth Simple https://www.wealthsimple.com/en-us/learn/esg-investing
  8. Gold  https://www.gold.co.uk/info/gold-market/
  9. http://solutions.refinitiv.com/MetalsResearch

Company page: www.cruxinvestor.com

If you see something in this article that you agree with, or even disagree with, please let us know in the comments below.

Any advice contained in this website is general advice only and has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situations or needs. You should not rely on any advice and / or information contained in this website or via any digital Crux Investor communications. Before making any investment decision we recommend that you consider whether it is appropriate for your situation and seek appropriate financial, taxation and legal advice.

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