China's exhaustive efforts to secure supplies of strategic resources from around the globe have just taken a most precious turn. After concluding that China's unquenchable resource blitz collectively constituted one of 2009's most overlooked events, I now submit that the nation's swiftly growing demand for gold comprises a new wave of fundamental support for rising gold prices.
U.S. miner Coeur d'Alene Mines
Let's get to the heart of the matter
Coeur d'Alene Mines is named after a town in Idaho whose native inhabitants were described -- by French-speaking fur traders -- as possessing hearts as sharp as an awl. By getting a leg up on what I have forecast will become an acute shortage of physical gold supply in the years to come, China exhibits a sharp heart for procuring strategic assets while the Western world appears to be procuring little more than additional debt.
China became the world's leading producer of gold in 2007. Although this new contract covers only about 750,000 ounces (23.3 tonnes), the very fact that the world's leading producer is looking outside its own borders to secure additional gold supplies speaks both to the robust nature of domestic demand, and to expectations for that to continue over time.
Not only is China's central bank expected to continue increasing official gold holdings to hedge against its heavy U.S. dollar exposure, but Chinese citizens continue to increase their consumption of gold both for investment and for adornment. Although India has long been the world capital of gold jewelry demand, recent figures suggest that China may already have surpassed India's hunger for jewelry.
Last year, China's mined supply of 314 tonnes fell more than 100 tonnes short of satisfying domestic investment and jewelry demand. The World Gold Council forecasts, incredibly, that China's overall demand for gold will double over the coming decade.
Indeed, The China Post reports that trade volume on the Shanghai Gold Exchange surged 22.6% last year -- trading $162 billion in gold -- to become the world's largest spot market for gold. Hong Kong commissioned a large new bullion vault, and began repatriating gold that had been stored in London.
Although Eldorado Gold