Gold mining industry faces reserve crisis, Kinross CEO says


By Rob Delaney
Bloomberg News
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TORONTO -- Kinross Gold Corp., Canada's third-largest producer of the precious metal, said the gold industry is facing a crisis of declining reserves as investor demand outpaces supply.

"We may be in the midst of a perfect storm in terms of price and industry dynamics," Tye Burt, chief executive officer of the Toronto-based company, said at a conference in Denver today. "Globally production has been in decline since the peak of 81 million ounces in 2001 to 77 million ounces last year, and we see that decline continuing long term."

Gold climbed to an 18-month high in New York and London today on concern that a global economic recovery may stoke inflation and on a drop by the dollar that boosted demand for the metal as an alternative investment. Gold for December delivery advanced as much as $17 to $1,023.30 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Comex division. The precious metal reached a record $1,033.90 an ounce on March 21, 2008.

Kinross said in June that it's considering as many as 50 investments in all countries where the company has operations, including Russia. The company wants to acquire "development- stage" or "active" projects and is likely to take on local partners for any investments in Russia, Vice President James Crossland said in a June 4 interview.

Kinross rose 14 cents to C$24.74 at 4:15 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading. The shares have gained 10 percent this year.

Kinross sold shares valued at $414.6 million in the first quarter to pay for acquisitions and take advantage of investors' interest in gold as a haven from economic turmoil.

The company's producing assets are distributed evenly in the U.S., Russia and South America, and the company wants to maintain that geographical balance, Crossland said in June.

Kinross and Barrick Gold Corp., the world's largest gold producer, will conclude a study "very soon" on their Cerro Casale deposit, Burt said today. Cerro Casale may produce about 400,000 ounces a year if put into production, he said. Kinross assumed 50 percent control as part of its $3 billion acquisition of Bema Gold Corp. in 2007. Barrick owns the remainder.

In the first half of this year, gold-equivalent production, which includes silver output, rose 47 percent to 1.09 million ounces. For the full year, Kinross predicts 2.3 million to 2.4 million ounces of gold equivalent production, Burt said today.

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