Bruised gold miners start hedging output, in a limited way

Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:34pm EDT
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* Gold miners sell production up to a year forward

* Long-term hedging still seen with suspicion

* Hochschild, Detour, Petropavlovsk among the hedgers

By Silvia Antonioli and Clara Denina

LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) - Increasing numbers of gold miners, battered by last year's drop in bullion prices, are selling planned output forward to help shore up their finances for stormy times, but these hedges are only for the short term.

Large miners and their shareholders typically rail against the practice of forward sales because locking in prices ahead of production closes off opportunities to benefit from a rise in the metal's value.

That was particularly pertinent during the 2001-2012 gold bull run, when prices swept from around $260 an ounce to a record $1,920.30 in late 2011.

But last year, a 28 percent dive in bullion prices caught producers by surprise, putting balance sheets under stress.

Now some miners are warming up to the idea of selling a portion of their gold a few months forward at a fixed price, banking and industry sources said, and investors seem to agree.   Continued...