The Global Precious Monthly Metals Index (MMI) dropped 1.7% this month.
Gold prices steady around $1,700/ounce
With some states beginning to reopen and ease restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, interest in gold as a safe-haven asset has picked up.
After falling below $1,500 per ounce in March, the gold price eventually surged ahead of the $1,700 per ounce threshold, around which it has settled since mid-April.
As Kitco News reported, the gold price did not react in any significant way to the recent stretch of historic unemployment claims in the U.S. — nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April alone, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported — because the news was largely expected.
It remains to be seen how various states’ plans to “reopen” their economies will progress given the still-elevated number of cases and deaths in some regions of the country.
This week, however, Bloomberg reported the VIX, or volatility index, fell to a nine-week low. The VIX dropped below 30 for the first time since March 3, Bloomberg reported.
Meanwhile, CBOE’s Gold ETF Volatility Index (GVZ) was down Friday, falling to 25.62 as of Friday afternoon after opening today at 26.76. The GVZ reached as high as 54.37 this year (March 18).
Elsewhere in the precious metals basket, MetalMiner’s Stuart Burns delved into the recent surge in the gap between gold and silver prices.
In short? Investor interest in silver ETFs has gotten a boost.
“The Financial Times reports on the dramatic rise in silver ETF holdings as investors bet on a rally in silver after the gap between gold and the industrial metal soared to its widest level in more than three centuries,” Burns wrote.
“The article states that in March the price of an ounce of gold was 125 times higher than the same amount of silver — a record going back to at least 1687.
“Since then, the gap has closed to about 113 times, as silver rose to $15 per ounce; Bank of America is reported as predicting silver could top $20 over the next year.”
Top gold miners post strong Q1
Miner Newmont Corporation reported first-quarter gold production of 1.48 million ounces, up 20% from Q1 2019, “primarily due to new production from the Goldcorp assets, partially offset by the sale of Kalgoorlie in Australia and lower ore grade milled at Ahafo, Yanacocha and Merian.”
Newmont benefited from rising gold prices (gold is up approximately 12% since the start of this year).
“Average realized price for gold was $1,591, an increase of $291 per ounce over the prior year quarter; average realized price for copper was $1.56, a decrease of $1.33 per pound over the prior year quarter; average realized price for silver, lead and zinc were $14.13 per ounce, $0.64 per pound and $0.62 per pound, respectively,” Newmont said in its Q1 earnings report.
Meanwhile, Barrick Gold Corporation posted Q1 net earnings of $400 million, up from $111 million in Q1 2019.
In operational news, Barrick is currently in a dispute with the government of Papua New Guinea over its decision not to extend the lease for the Porgera gold mine. The open pit, underground gold mine is a joint venture operated by Barrick (47.5% stake), Zijin Mining Group (47.5%) and Mineral Resources Enga (5%).
“Since the end of the quarter, the government of Papua New Guinea has announced that it will not renew Barrick Niugini Limited’s 20-year Special Mining Lease for the Porgera gold mine,” Barrick said in its earnings report. “Barrick has said it will contest the move, which it regards as tantamount to nationalization without due process. In the meantime, BNL has placed Porgera on temporary care and maintenance. In addition, due to the uncertainty related to the timing and scope of future developments on the mine’s operating outlook, we are withdrawing our full year 2020 guidance for Porgera at this time.”
Reuters: BAML forecasts platinum, palladium deficits
Reuters reported Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts forecast a global deficit in platinum and palladium this year as a result of mine closures in top platinum producer South Africa.
Last month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension through the end of April of lockdown measures aimed at curbing the coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this month, however, the government began to ease restrictions, allowing for some stores to reopen (mines had already been permitted to operate at 50% as of late last month).
“Yet, while a nation-wide lockdown is probably the most effective means to contain the spread of the coronavirus, it cannot be sustained indefinitely,” Ramaphosa said April 25.
“Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living. Companies need to be able to produce and to trade, they need to generate revenue and keep their employees in employment.
“We have accordingly decided that beyond Thursday 30 April, we should begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity.”
Anglo American Platinum reported a 7% decline in PGM production in Q1, down to 954,800 ounces, citing South Africa’s COVID-19 mitigation measures.
Meanwhile, Impala Platinum reported a 6% drop in production for the first quarter of calendar year 2020.
“The implementation of the lockdown is estimated to have resulted in a 6% reduction in reported milled tonnage from each of Impala, Marula and Two Rivers, equivalent to approximately 26,000 ounces of 6E mine-to-market concentrate production during the quarter,” Impala said in its quarterly report.
Actual metals prices and trends
The U.S. silver ingot/bars price rose 9.7% month over month to $15.27/ounce as of May 1.
The U.S. platinum bar price rose 7.6% to $778/ounce, while palladium fell 17.9% to $1,870/ounce.
Chinese gold bullion rose 6.3% to $53.63/gram, while U.S. gold bullion surged 8.7% to $1,714.10/ounce.