Monday, 17 May 2010

The price of gold

Goal 3: To save enough to be able to retire

Did anyone watch BBC3's: Blood, Sweat and Luxuries last week? It is on iPlayer for those in the UK.

I currently own a few shares in one gold mining company in Azerbijan and one exploration company with rights to a region in Ghana. All part of my plan to invest and eventually save enough to be able to retire.

The BBC documentary made for fascinating but disturbing watching. Dozens of local people carrying kilos of earth up a hill for hours on end. After two days, almost dying through heat exhaustion, the poor Britons with them had carried 400 baskets which netted only a few grams of gold!

I've read dozens of company reports over the past year, trying to get my head round statements such as this:

Tonnage Grade Contained Gold
Measured 3,032,617 1.61(g/t) 157,298 (ozs)

The headline figure is what I've concentrated on: gold at $1,200 per oz times 157 thousand ounces is a lot of money.

But, if it takes ten people two days to shift a ton of earth to get 1.61 grams of gold...

It really puts it in perspective. 

I know many mining companies will use machinery as they intend to extract the gold in quantities to make it worthwhile as a business and I also know this has its own potential downside as intensive mining has greater potential to disrupt the environment.

I missed the beginning and haven't had time to watch it online, but I gathered that one of the supervisors or possibly owners of the mine supports 17 family members with the small amount of gold mined.

The documentary raised a lot of questions for me. What can I do to encourage the companies I invest in to protect and benefit the local population? Is it better not to invest in these companies? Or is it better to be involved and try and make a difference through that involvement?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. If you can make a difference through that involvement then I would say go for it. Not sure how you would do that though?

    Try searching the internet and see if you can find any campaigning organisations that try to work through shareholders. I stumbled across a group called Fair Pensions who try to put pressure on companies to behave responsibly by getting pension holders to email their pension providers, asking them to vote on shareholder resolutions. Don't know if there's anything similar out there that might be of use to you...?