Gold producers are rushing to take advantage of the price gains this month and raise capital to shore up their balance sheets.
Gold companies in North America, where more than half of the industry is based, have announced or completed at least $808.3-million (U.S.) of stock sales since the start of January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That's already the highest monthly total since October, 2013.
While prices dropped Wednesday, they're still up 9.3 per cent so far in 2015. Bullion traded in London on Wednesday at more than $1,300 an ounce for the first time since August as stagnating world economies drive demand for haven assets.
On Wednesday, Toronto-based Romarco Minerals Inc. said it agreed to sell $300-million (Canadian) of shares in a so-called bought deal, in which the underwriters initially buy all the stock being offered.
Earlier the same day, Canada's Detour Gold Corp. agreed to sell $140.8-million of shares and Montreal-based Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. agreed to raise $200-million. Toronto-based Yamana Gold Inc. announced a $260-million offering last week.
It makes sense that miners would "raise money and replenish the treasury" because stock prices have outpaced the gold price this year, said Kerry Smith, a Toronto-based analyst at Haywood Securities Inc.
Globally, gold companies raised $2.36-billion (U.S.) from equity sales last year, the lowest since 2004, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
The metal declined in 2014 and the year before that, putting pressure on producers, who have faced rising mining costs and declining cash balances.
Investors are adding to gold-backed funds at the fastest pace in three years. Open interest in New York futures and options is at the highest in eight weeks, and money managers are the most bullish since August.
After shunning gold for two years, investors are returning to the metal amid concern U.S. growth won't be enough to offset weakness in foreign economies. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank cut outlooks for global growth this month, even as they upgraded estimates for American expansion.
"It's too early to decide if gold is really out of the downtrend," said Lance Roberts, who helps oversee $600-million as chief strategist for STA Wealth in Houston. "What has changed over the past few months is that fear is coming back. Some investors are buying gold to hedge against uncertainties."