The head of global miner Goldcorp has predicted a "peak gold" scenario next year in which gold output will start to decline.
The well-known “peak oil” theory has arguably been discredited, but Goldcorp chief executive Chuck Jeannes said he is confident he is right.
The Canada-based miner is currently the world’s largest gold producer by market capitalisation.
Mr Jeannes told a Melbourne Mining Club lunch he believed a steady reduction in supply after 2015 and increasing demand driven by Chinese buyers and their cultural affiliation with gold would lift the price.
He hopes that scenario will convince investors to start backing struggling gold stocks again, with Australia’s largest producer Newcrest Mining having been dumped by shareholders in the last two-to-three years as the price of the precious commodity tumbled.
Gold discoveries peaked in 1995 but had fallen ever since despite the fact that dramatically higher amounts of money was spent on exploration.
The average amount of time from discovery of gold deposit to production had blown out to 20 years, he said.
“I don’t think it is a coincidence that peak gold production is expected next year, coinciding with that 20 year development time when most gold ounces were discovered in our business,” Mr Jeannes said.
“I believe the gold price is going to rise significantly over the next five-10 years.”
For the moment he predicts it to stay within a band of $US1,150-$US1,400 an ounce.
He has been lobbying investors to start thinking of gold stocks as being growth investments not leveraged to the whims of the gold price or the US Federal Reserve’s plans for interest rates.
“If it (the gold miner) is run right,” he said as a qualification.
Goldcorp pays a monthly dividend as other major producers including Australia’s Newcrest, which have been posting multi-billion dollar losses for two years, have suspended them.