What: Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE:NEM) saw its shares advance just about 11% last month. But the big gains didn't come until the middle of the month, which makes complete sense.

So what: Newmont is one of the world's largest gold and silver miners. That's been a pretty ugly business since commodity prices started to shift lower around 2011. In fact, the shares are down more than 60% over the past five years. But something changed in mid-January.

Mr. Market has, basically, been spooked, and investors appear to be shifting to "safe haven" assets. That means gold. The price of gold hit about $1,073 an ounce on Jan. 14, but advanced from there through the end of the month to finish off at around $1,123. Newmont's share price has basically tracked gold higher. But Newmont is hardly alone: Barrick Gold (NYSE:GOLD) advanced along with Newmont, and ended the month up an even more impressive 34%. So this sentiment shift is benefiting more than just Newmont.

Now what: So is now the time to jump aboard the gold train by buying Newmont or Barrick? The answer really depends on your perspective of the market and gold prices. Most investors would do well to have some gold exposure for diversification purposes. If you don't, now could be a good time to consider a company like Newmont. But unless you feel strongly about a gold rally or stock market crash, don't back the truck up because of the swift share price move. Newmont is still reliant on a volatile commodity for its top- and bottom-line results. A price jump on a gold rally only makes that point, and the potential risk it poses, more obvious.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.