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August 01 2018

moneymetals

Top Gold Miners Production Declined 15% While Costs Escalate

Even though the gold price increased in 2018, the top gold miners production declined while costs continue to escalate. Output at three of the top gold miners in the world fell in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period last year. With rising costs due to higher energy prices, on top of decreasing production, the top gold miners free cash flow declined precipitously in 2018.

While many analysts focus on the company’s profits or net income, I like to pay attention to its free cash flow. Free cash flow is nothing more than subtracting capital expenditures from the company’s cash from operations. Because the gold mining industry is very capital intensive, the company’s free cash flow is a better indicator of financial health rather than the net income.

As mentioned, all of the top three gold miners suffered production declines in the first half (1H) of 2018 versus the same period last year. The biggest loser was Barrick, whose production declined over 20% by falling to 2.1 million oz in 1H 2018 compared to 2.7 Moz in the previous year. Goldcorp’s production fell 10%, while Newmont’s output dropped by nearly 9%:

Top miners gold production 1h 2017 vs 1h 2018

Altogether, the top three gold mining companies’ production fell 15% or approximately 1 Moz in the first six months of 2018 versus last year. Even though Goldcorp isn’t the third largest gold miner in the world, the company has already posted its second-quarter results. AngloGold is the third largest gold miner, but it won’t publish its financial statements until August 20th. Also, Kinross is likely ranked number four ahead of Goldcorp, but the company posts its production figures in “gold equivalent ounces.” If a company has to publish its gold or silver production in “equivalent ounces,” then the analysis is a bit flawed in my opinion.

Regardless, these top three gold miners all experienced declines in production which impacted their financial balance sheets. To get a better idea of the true cost of production and the health of the gold mining industry, I have come up with an “Adjusted Earnings Breakeven” price as well as a “Free Cash Flow” breakeven price.

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