Banks withdrawal opens doors for niche financiers in gold sector

Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:10am EST
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* Data shows increases in number of royalty, streaming deals

* Critics say such deals damage the mining industry

* Gold sector holds best opportunities in mining - QKR

By Silvia Antonioli and Clara Denina

LONDON, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Struggling gold miners are turning increasingly to alternative sources of finance for funds as banks and equity investors shy away.

Stream financing and royalty deals and investments by private individuals are throwing a lifeline to some bullion miners but critics say it comes at the expense of future returns, damaging the industry's longer-term appeal for more conventional investors.

They may also be keeping alive production that would not be viable at current spot prices, delaying a rebalancing of supply and demand. Gold shed around a quarter of its value in the last two years after a more than decade-long bull run.

"We have never been busier," said David Harquail, chief executive of royalty and streaming company Franco-Nevada . "Our office is now full and we spend all our time trying to juggle which projects we can devote resources too."

Large European banks, which have withdrawn en masse from commodity trading, have also tightened gold mine financing and equity investors have lost confidence in a sector that squandered money on costly expansion during boom times but failed to control costs. Gold companies have underperformed the price in the last four years.   Continued...