Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why India, World's Biggest Gold Consumer, Is Not Much On Production Side

In a term, regime uncertainty. As related by Sreekumar Raghavan, managing editor of Commodity Online, India's decline from major producer a century ago to minor producer today results from government policy.
"...The decline of the Indian gold mining industry can be directly attributed to the nationalistic policies of Independent India, which for several decades prevented private and foreign investment in exploration and mining for gold,” Deccan Gold Mines Ltd noted in its annual report of 2010. Deccan Gold Mines is the only listed gold exploration and mining company in India.

Deccan Gold Mines Ltd has alleged that “lack of investor friendly regulations and the excessive delays and attendant bureaucracy in the grant of mineral concession permits / licenses. This is further aggravated by the lack of security of tenure of mineral concession licences with the Government coming in at the last moment and reserving the areas for state-owned institutions after the private sector has spent time and effort on exploration. As a result, several of the major and junior explorers that entered India with zeal and enthusiasm have walked away from the country in the last few years.”

Deccan Gold Mines Ltd has challenged in Karnataka High Court the State Government move to reserve the North Hutti Block of Karnataka for state owned Hutti Gold Mines Company Ltd as Deccan Mines had earlier applied for prospecting licence.
There seems to be a fair bit of gold properties in the country, particularly in the southern India state of Karnataka, as evidenced by a pickup in exploration efforts. Some of those companies are cutting the state-owned companies in, probably as a meant to euchre out outright nationalization.

Despite that pickup, the Indian situation still shows a fair bit of political risk. The chances of a foreign listed company not being nationalized, even if that company is Australian, don't look very good.

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