Gold miners tout metals prospects as bull awakens in 2016

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Golds fortunes have turned around in 2016, and likewise, the miners that produce the yellow metal also are seeing their stocks rise.

BMO Capital Markets this week hosted the 25th Global Metals and Mining Conference in Hollywood, Fla., where several top industry executives weighed in on golds prospects going forward.

The fundamentals which keep the price of gold up havent changed, whether its jewelry demand, whether its fear about uncertainty and also potentially negative interest rates, which are what people are talking about, and thats given the good support to the gold price, Anglogold Ashanti CEO Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan told CNBC on Monday.

A lot of people moving into gold: Negative interest rates, which are currently in force in Japan and several parts of Europe, will continue to boost gold, especially if the Federal Reserve follows suit. Gold will go up simply because youre actually getting benefit by keeping physical gold or gold equities, he said. They appreciate, as compared to the other classes of investments. And thats the thesis behind it. And youre starting to see a lot of people moving in that direction and funds coming into gold funds.

From the supply standpoint, companies have been pulling back on their expansion and exploration plans, he noted. What you will certainly see is a decline in gold production coming, and it takes about 10 to 13 years for a new gold project to take off. So you will see that supply being squeezed, he said.

For Venkatakrishnan, the cycle is now turning in golds favor, though it wont always be smooth sailing. The four-year bear run in the gold market has to unwind at some stage, and youre starting to see gold position itself very well to basically get the uptick, so Im not convinced its a short-term trend which youre seeing, but there could be volatility, certainly through 2016.

Mine supply to drop by 17%: And Newmont Mining chief Gary Goldberg also outlined a bullish case for gold, concentrating on simple supply-and-demand fundamentals. Fundamentals for the medium to long term are good for gold when you look at both the supply and the demand side, he told CNBC.

On the supply side, people havent been investing in new gold mines. You havent had the investment in exploration. You expect new mine supply to drop by about 17% over the next five years. Demand is still strong. Asia is still the major place where gold goes. Half the gold is consumed in China and India. With the middle class in China going from 300 million to 500 million, India moving to 500 million by 2025 thats all good for gold.

Very positive thanks to negative rates: The Fed will continue to play a key role as well in golds direction, especially if it backs off its plans to raise interest rates as many as four times this year. Over the last couple of weeks, whats happened? Youve had a lot of uncertainty; youve had the Fed finally raise interest rates, which I think dampened the price of gold last year youve finally seen that come off over the last couple of months.

And if the Fed caves and goes negative on rates, I think thats a very positive thing for gold, Goldberg commented.

The grim outlook that miners were facing a year ago has dissipated somewhat for now thanks to the tailwind of higher bullion prices. Playing the mining stocks can add alpha to your gold bets, but like most any investments, dont bet the whole hog. Endless variables from energy and labor costs to disease, war, and environmental regulations can disrupt mining operations and gouge stock values. Therefore, make sure your core gold holding is in the metal itself: physical, tangible gold, plus silver bullion and rare coins.