One Year Of Losses Erases Eight Years Of Miner Profits

Just as the financial crisis was for banks, so too was the recent commodity drop for miners and miner profits.

It has been a tough year for miner profits. While the price of gold has not fallen as fast as it did in 2012, miners have had significant difficulty. Losses from mining operations were so severe in 2015, the eclipsed all profits generated over the past eight years — but a turnaround could be in store for the miners.

Commodity producers particularly hard hit recently as miner profits falter

It has been a difficult period of time for commodity producers. In 2014, with the price of oil over $100 per barrel, a dramatic price drop that rivaled the 2008 price drop occurred. While several producers hedged their price exposure in 2014, in 2015 those hedges started to roll off, exposing them to significant price risk as $40 per barrel oil became the new normal.

Mining enterprises experienced a similar fate, with miner profits particularly hard hit. A nasty price drop in 2013 was followed by a down trending market in 2014 and 2015. Mining companies, many of whom are considered to have sophisticated hedging operations, nonetheless witnessed their 2013 price hedges roll off as gold, which was as high as $1,800 per ounce, traded in a range between $1,400 and $1,100. On a percentage basis it was not as serious as the oil market, but during the fourth quarter of 2015, it finally caught up to gold miners.

As a result, mining revenues fell 38% during the fourth quarter of 2015, The Wall Street Journal noted. Mining corporations with assets of $50 million posted a collective $227 billion after-tax loss in 2015, according to Commerce Department statistics released Monday, erasing all profits the industry had made since 2007 – when gold was trading near $600 per ounce.

Gold miners have been hard hit, but picture could be turning around

While gold prices have rebounded lately – along with the price of oil – gold miners have seen relative improvement. Which is a better investment, a direct investment in gold or the gold miners?

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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