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Vol. 12, No. 47 Week of November 25, 2007
Providing coverage of Alaska and Northwest Canada's mineral industry

MINING NEWS: Shall we count our blessings or our fingers?

J.P. Tangen

For Mining News

The price of gold surged through $800 per ounce recently, headed north; and all gold miners (as well as the producers of many other commodities in the United States) are bound to have a happy Thanksgiving because of it. At the recent Alaska Miners Association Convention the faces of the more than 600 attendees confirmed the good news.

Happy days are here again or are they? The cautionary note, of course, is that currency traders are also hooting and hollering. If the price of gold was going up, and the price of the Canadian dollar was holding fast, or the pound sterling was not moving, or the increase was measured against a static Swiss franc as well, then glee would be warranted. Unfortunately, that is not what is happening. In fact, the greenback is dropping like a rock relative to most other currencies.

Without putting too fine a point on the situation, caution at the moment seems prudent, as it often does. If the U.S. dollar is being devalued, can inflation be far behind? Will it stimulate an increase in exports? Will interest rates have to be adjusted upwards? Will economists ever reach a conclusion?

How does the dollar value of gold play on the global scene? Barrick and NovaGold have recently buried the hatchet with regard to the Donlin Creek Project, but will investing in gold projects in the United States compete favorably for capital with other projects around the world, including those just over the border in Canada?

Small miners may trip happily to the refinery with their production and rake in the credits, but is now the time for them to be hiding a few extra ounces under the mattress? Only time will tell. The United States seems to be bleeding money in the Middle East. The national debt is increasing. Inferentially, the money for the war is coming from borrowing. It would seem to follow that with the current low interest rates, lenders are losing their shirts when the relative value of the U.S. dollar is diminishing.

Ask yourself whether you would invest in a leaking boat. What would you recommend if you were the chief financial officer of a global mining company, even if you were in the game for the long haul?

Now is not the time for pessimism or gloom. Things will work out; they always do. Sound planning calls for considering all of the likely contingencies and the associated implications. In the meantime, celebrate the high price of metals. This is what we have all been praying for. As the saying goes, eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow, we may die.



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