Sep 26, 2008

U.S. Mint suspends sales of 1 oz gold Buffalos

By Frank Tang
Reuters
Thursday, September 25, 2008

NEW YORK -- The U.S Mint said Thursday it was temporarily suspending sales of American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins because strong demand depleted its inventory.

"Demand has exceeded supply for American Buffalo 24-karat gold one-ounce bullion coins, and our inventories have been depleted. We are, therefore, temporarily suspending sales of these coins," the Mint said in a memorandum to authorized American Buffalo dealers.

The Mint also told dealers that it would work to build up its inventory to resume sales shortly.

In mid-August, a shortage of American Eagle one-ounce gold coins due to "unprecedented" demand had also forced the U.S. Mint to temporarily suspend sales of the popular coins.

The Mint said Thursday it would continue to supply the American Eagle 22-karat gold one-ounce and American Eagle silver bullion coins on an allocation basis to coin dealers.

In addition, the half-ounce, quarter-ounce, and 1-10th ounce American Eagle gold coins and American Eagle platinum were also available, the Mint said.

Coin dealers from the United States to Canada have recently reported a surge in buying of bullion coins and other gold products as troubles in the financial markets prompted people to seek a safe haven in precious metals.

On Thursday, the U.S. gold contract for December delivery ended down $13 or 1.5 percent at $882 an ounce on the COMEX division of the NYMEX, while spot gold traded at $873 an ounce.

Bullion hit an all-time high of $1,030.80 an ounce on March 17.

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...and a snippet from BullionVault:


"...Longer-term, says Roland Duss - co-chief investment officer at Gonet & Cie, the Swiss private bank based in Geneva - the price of Gold Bullion could reach $2,000 or more per ounce over the next decade.

"We are still in a commodities bull market," Duss told London's CityWire news service on Wednesday.

"The growth in demand from emerging economies is such that it will exceed supply, so we are bound to have price hikes for another five to 10 years."

Duss says 95% of additional demand for energy, metals and other raw materials is coming from emerging economies. Developed OECD countries simply don't have an impact.

"On the supply side [in contrast] there is a lot of destruction. For metals, there are too many cost increases, which means that some mines are not going to be there."

World gold mining output peaked in 2003. Ian Henderson, head of J.P.Morgan's $5bn Natural Resources Fund, believes we need "a sustained price level of over $1,200 an ounce before we see any significant new mine build."

The CEO of world No.4 gold miner Gold Fields, Nick Holland, says his company's assets would require a market-price of $2,000 and above "if you tried to build these mines today" to justify the investment.

"Already at cost levels between $600-700 an ounce," notes the latest Precious Metals Weekly from Wolfgang Wrzesniok-Rossbach at Heraeus - the German refining group - "many mines will find it difficult to continue production.

"This should put a check on fresh supply. At lower prices, the feasibility of processing 'scrap gold' [meaning old jewelry and electronic bonding wire] will also be severely tested - and at the same time it should significantly encourage jewelry demand.

"As such, in the next 15 months, we do not see the gold price falling for any extended period of time below these levels"

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