Grant Bradley

Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Precious metal's plunge rattles investors

Some twitchy New Zealand holders of gold were rattled by the plunge in price and sold out early in the week although most inquiries were about buying bullion.

And one analyst says gold appears to be heading into bear market territory and high-cost producers may have to mothball some mines.

Head of sales and marketing at New Zealand Mint Brent Hindman said: "There were some folk getting a bit gun-shy about gold, thinking they would take their loss and move on and others saw the opportunity to increase their holdings when the price went down."

He said as the price recovered people were more comfortable buying gold again.

"I think people are feeling more comfortable that it's hit the bottom and it's on the way back up again."

Hindman said his firm did not offer financial advice but it warned anyone buying gold or silver to do their homework.

"Anyone who is making an investment decision on a whim is probably doing so a bit dangerously. But if they've decided to put their money into hard bullion the New Zealand dollar is high and the price of gold is low."

He said a few people who bought when the price of gold was near its peak had sold early in the week.

"People may have a change in circumstances, sometimes we scratch our heads about why people are selling. [What] we're saying to people is that nothing much has changed in the last couple of weeks - there hasn't been anything to suggest that gold is a bad thing to own."

Louis Boulanger, who offers bullion services to anyone interested in owning bars, said the drop had been significant.

Boulanger believes there should be a portion of wealth in gold ownership.

"I say to all of my clients that holding gold is not an investment - it comes down to the decision of whether you think the system is not under stress or do you want to take money out and convert money into gold and forget about it until we have a more sensible or normal environment."

He warns against trading.

"There's big boys in there. It's a lot different from holding or hoarding."

Listed gold miner OceanaGold's share price was hit early in the week.

Craigs Investment adviser Peter McIntyre said the company had the advantage of diversity with copper as well as gold at its Didipo mine in the Philippines.

"Effectively their cost of gold production will move to zero which can't come quick enough in this sort of market."

Other high-cost producers would put mines in mothballs and larger players could put off mining until the price recovered. Nearly all gold miners were now unhedged.

"If you go back nine or 10 years they were all hedged to protect their position. They all turned very bullish on gold and sold down their hedging contracts," McIntyre said. "I think gold's in a bear market now - it's happened very quickly and there'll be a number of gold mining CEOs globally shivering at night."

- NZ Herald

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