Hedging Gold Production: An Analysis Of Historical South African Gains And Losses

Minnitt, R. C. A.
Organization: The Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 11
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2007
South Africa remains the largest global producer of gold, accounting for 11.3 per cent of total world mine production, which amounted to 2520.2 t in 2005. The benefits and disadvantages associated with hedging practices in general, and among South African gold producers is examined. The wide variety and unique nature of risks faced by the mining industries provide a strong case for hedging. Only the principles of hedging, such as selling ounces of gold in the ground at a pre-agreed price for delivery at a future date as a cost-effective mechanism for price risk management, is discussed. Progressive and cumulative increases in the volume of forward sales in the major producing countries are considered by many to be the cause of the declining gold price over the past decade. In spite of negative publicity, forward selling continued as an industry-wide practice until recently (2002) when the global hedge book contracted by 352 t; contraction amounted to 158.6 t in first quarter of 2006. The objectives and benefits of hedging include continuity and stability of cash flows, stability in price achieved, reduction of frictional costs, and creating an effective management tool. The importance of a defined hedging strategy in reducing uncertainty about the hedging objectives is essential to a successful hedging policy. Historical patterns in hedging revenues at an industry level indicate five distinct periods during which the fortunes of hedgers have fluctuated. Finally, since 2001 the rising gold price and reduced price volatility through the consolidation in the global price means that the need to stabilize revenue flows is less urgent. This has meant that hedging is becoming progressively less important for the mining industry at large.
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