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MICE - Future bright for gold

IT may surprise some that Australia has never had a Gold Week, but there are no prizes for guessing which State will host the first ever such event, nor for naming the organisation behind the initiative.

The Australian Gold Council is trialling Gold Week in Perth next month in response to renewed interest in gold and gold products as investments.

The event launch comes at a time of improved outlook for the gold industry, and is likely to coincide with another first for the nation.

New gold bullion investment products – the first ever gold bullion securities on the Australian Stock Exchange – will be launched within weeks, Australian Gold Council chief executive officer Tamara Gorrie said in Perth last week.

While not willing to expand further on the new investment opportunity, Ms Gorrie was happy to talk of the aim of the Gold Week initiative.

Simply put, the Australian Gold Council has chosen Perth, and several locations around the city, to “showcase the multidimensional nature of the Australian gold industry”.

Gold Week may also be introduced in other Australian cities, but it makes sense to trial it in WA, where the AGC says the gold industry has the highest profile, and from where 70 per cent of the nation’s gold is produced.

Gold prices have soared in the past year, and the industry is still recovering from setbacks over the past decade.

The precious metal has faced stiff competition in the jewellery market from platinum, gold exploration has declined significantly and, in 1997, the Reserve Bank sold significant quantities of its gold reserves.

But since last year, investment interest has grown to the best it has been in years, Ms Gorrie said, and several no-fee events throughout Gold Week will provide private retail investors and the general public with information on mining companies, gold products and investment.

A Perth Mint open day is aimed at general activity based education for families, while the Sheraton will host a ‘gold prospects investors’ day’, essentially a forum involving 19 gold mining and investment product companies.

The investors’ day is likely to be one of the most popular events, judging by interest in a similar seminar in Melbourne last year, Ms Gorrie said.

Two days of the week will be devoted to north and south-of-the-river shopping centre displays of unique, exotic and original jewellery, some from Africa, courtesy of AngloGold, and other pieces from Gympie Gold’s collection, the metal mined in Australia and the finished product fashioned in the US.

On the last day of Gold Week, the national industry will truly be on show, with gold mines open for public tours in five States.

Industry participants will not miss out during the week, either, with the Sheraton Perth hosting the annual Australian Gold Conference.

The AGC has returned to Perth this year, after a Melbourne debut in 2002.

While 2002 was the first time the conference was held outside of WA, Ms Gorrie says the event is likely to move around from time to time to retain freshness and relevance.

Ms Gorrie rates the level of importance of such an event as “extreme”.

“It’s very beneficial, at least once every 12 months, to discuss what impacts the industry and to address issues and challenges,” she said.

Rapid rationalisation within the Australian industry pushing foreign ownership close to 80 per cent, a halving of exploration in the past five years, and the implications of rising prices for explorers and producers, are just some of the issues impacting on the industry.

Investment is the main focus of the conference.

Getting together as an industry is particularly relevant at a time when fundamental support for the Australian gold sector has been on the increase since last year, and looking unlikely to wane in the near future, Ms Gorrie says.

“The future has not looked this good for years,” she says.

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