Stats from the US Department of Labor showed that the US economy created 114,000 new jobs in September, above the 110,000 that analysts were expecting. The department also revised the August figure up to 142,000 from 96,000 and July’s result to 181,000 from 141,000.
The country’s unemployment rate fell to 7.8 percent from 8.1 percent, its lowest level since January 2009.
The price of gold, always a contrarian investment bet, turned negative on the news, with bullion slipping to $1,782.50 an ounce on Friday and dropping $12.50 to $1,770 on Monday, its largest two-week fall since August. The positive economic news put upward pressure on the US dollar and caused bullion buyers to take a breather (investors using non-US dollars pay more for bullion when the dollar rises), though the longer-term gold picture remains bullish, analysts said.
Reuters noted that this claim is evidenced by continued inflows of metals into exchange-traded products. Holdings of gold ETFs reached a new record of 74.725 million ounces last Friday.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, gold continued to decline, falling 2 percent over the four-day stretch, coinciding with a falling euro and rising dollar after Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain’s debt to near-junk status. The downgrade makes it more expensive for the Spanish government to borrow money and increases the likelihood that Spain will ask for bailout money from its Eurozone partners.
By Thursday, the dollar had weakened and gold ticked back up. Spot gold was last quoted at $1,767.20/oz and COMEX gold for December delivery rose $4.50 to $1,769.50, according to numbers sourced by Kitco. US economic data released Thursday morning showed a sharp decline in weekly jobless gains, which knocked gold off its daily high of $1,773.40.
Workers reject pay raise; Gold One fires 75 percent of mine workforce
Labor unrest continued to plague the gold sector in South Africa this week.
South African media is reporting that Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI), which last week faced 2,000 striking miners who occupied a hill at the KDC West Mine to protest against being evicted from company housing, is no longer applying for an eviction order to remove 5,000 miners from its hostels.
“We reached the agreement with [the National Union of Mineworkers] that the miners should disarm. That was the reason for the eviction and now that the majority have been disarmed we feel that it is fair enough to halt the legal process,” company spokesman Sven Lunsche was quoted as saying. The workers have been on strike for 29 days and are seeking a net pay increase of R12,500 (US$1,441) per month.
Meanwhile, Gold One International (ASX:GD) dropped the hammer on 1,900 striking employees at is Ezulwini mine, firing 1,435 workers after a week-long illegal strike. Gold One said in a statement that the firings resulted when “a large number of employees at Ezulwini failed to report for work” and that police are maintaining a strong presence at the operation. The dismissals followed a similar move by Amplats (Anglo American Platinum), which fired 12,000 workers taking part in a three-week illegal strike.
There appears to be no end to the labor disruptions that have plagued the South African mining sector for weeks and reached a tragic nadir with the deaths of 46 striking platinum miners. On Thursday, the nation’s three largest gold miners, AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU), Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI) and Harmony Gold Mining (NYSE:HMY) offered to raise the entry-level pay for miners, give an allowance for rock drill operators and improve pay packets for other job categories, but the offer was rejected, said the National Union of Mineworkers.
A company controlled by the world’s richest man, billionaire Carlos Slim, will acquire the Ocampo mine and two properties in Mexico owned by AuRico Gold (TSX:AUQ,NYSE:AUQ). The news caused AuRico’s stock to rocket 21 percent Wednesday on double average trading volumes.
Minera Frisco, a company spun from Slim’s holding company, Grupo Carso (OTC Pink:GPOVY), will pay US$750 million to acquire the Ocampo mine and the Venus and Los Jarros exploration properties, all in Chihuahua State, and a 50 percent interest in the Orion project, located in Nayarit State.
Mineweb noted that the announcement comes less than a month after AuRico said it would lose 40,000 to 50,000 ounces of gold production this year and up to 50,000 gold-equivalent ounces in 2013.
Canadian gold miner Osisko Mining (TSX:OSK) achieved record gold production from its Malarctic mine in Quebec, pouring 103,753 ounces in the third quarter, a 12.7 percent increase from Q3 last year. The mine has produced 487,072 ounces since it began operations in April 2011. Meanwhile, the Montreal-based producer wasn’t saying much about an announcement that it has staked one million hectares of ground in an as yet unnamed “emerging gold rich mineral belt” in Mexico.
“A systematic greenfields exploration program was initiated in late 2011, starting with a high-density stream sediment survey comprising over 4,000 samples,” states the press release. ”Detailed mapping, geochemistry and geophysics were subsequently completed over identified anomalous areas.”
Canada’s third-largest gold producer, Kinross Gold (TSX:K,NYSE:KGC), said Thursday that its CFO, Paul Barry, is leaving the company. Barry’s departure follows the departure two months ago of Kinross CEO Tye Burt. In February, Kinross took a $2.49 billion writedown on its Tasiast mine in Mauritania. The asset was acquired by Kinross when it took over Red Back Mining almost two years ago.
Junior company news
Comstock Metals (TSXV:CSL) reported the results of the first two drill holes at is QV project in the White Gold district of the Canadian Yukon. The intersections included 1.02 grams per tonne over 82 meters and 1.28 g/t over 56 meters. The company says the results demonstrate the discovery of a new gold zone, meaning the project is amenable to both open-pit and underground mining:
“The broad, near surface gold zones, along with a shallow dip of 30 degree to the northwest, make an ideal open-pitable mining scenario at the VG zone,” commented President and CEO Rasool Mohammad. “We are also very encouraged by our high-grade gold zones in the broader low grade near surface mineralization, indicating underground mining potential as well.”
Toronto-based Dalradian Resources (TSX:DNA,OTCQX:DRLDF) announced a new discovery at its Curraghinalt gold deposit in Northern Ireland. “Not only have we just hit two of the best main vein intercepts in the history of the project, including a 120 m step-out,” said CEO Patrick F. N. Anderson , “but as well, our new discovery shows that the hanging wall and footwall zones are also gold bearing. While it is early days in understanding this new vein set, it has the potential to be a game changer by adding grade to areas previously considered to be barren.”