China’s gold miners continue to look overseas to feed rising local demand following bullion’s best quarter in almost three decades. Their quest for more gold is helping drive up the prices of gold assets around the globe.
The country’s leading producers say they want to build on their efforts in 2015, when China spent the most on overseas gold assets since 2011. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, overseas deals by mainland Chinese companies, including Zijin Mining Group, Zhaojin Mining Industry and Shandong Gold Group, quadrupled in 2015 to $483 million compared to 2014.
China is the world’s biggest gold producer and consumer and recently started a price fixing in Shanghai as it attempts to establish a regional benchmark and boost its global influence. The country’s central bank is also boosting its bullion holdings.
The growing demand and increasing gold price are pushing Chinese companies to seek overseas assets. Gold has rallied 17% this year after three years of losses and has been one of the best performing commodities amid a downturn that has seen many miners cut costs and sell assets.
Zijin Mining, China’s biggest gold company by market value, sees more opportunities in the current cycle while Zhaojin, China’s fourth biggest producer by domestic output, believes the gold price is at the bottom of the current cycle, opening a window of opportunity for acquisitions.
“Now the price is at the bottom, we want to perform some financial investments,” Zhaojin chairman Weng Zhanbin told the Mines and Money conference in Hong Kong. “When it comes to international M&A, we still have a long way to go, but now is the time for us to plant our seeds.”
Shandong Gold Group is targeting assets in countries that have good legal systems and stable political environments. “Going overseas will allow Chinese companies to have more say in global resource exploration and influence pricing,” general manager Li Guohong said. “We have trained our eyes on the global market.”
In 2015 gold output in China gained 0.6% to 515.9 tonnes, according to the China Gold Association while the World Gold Council estimates that local consumer demand in China, excluding central bank purchases, totalled 984.5 tonnes in 2015. The People’s Bank of China is believed to be expanding its reserves by about 15.6 tonnes a month.