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TheStreet Open House

Franco-Nevada Chair Urges Gold Miners To Invest In Technology

Investors are fed up and Lassonde seems to empathize with them. He said that in the 1960s and 1970s, when gold was about $35 per ounce, $1 in exploration spending would yield $100 in return. Despite record gold prices during this bull run, over the last 10 years $1 in exploration spending has returned only $11.

“Investors are voting with their money. They are out of the deal,” he said during his presentation in Denver.

Lassonde placed much of the blame for the current state of affairs on the lack of new technology. To drive home his point, he compared the gold and oil industries, commenting on game-changing oil-related developments such as 3D seismic technology, fracking and horizontal drilling.

Responding to a question at last week's Roundup, he said “[w]e're nowhere. I mean give me a new technology that has really shaken our world in the last 30 years. I mean we're still using the same stupid drill rigs that we've used for 100 years. Maybe they're a little faster. The oil is better. But there's nothing dramatically new.”

Challenging times lie ahead if the gold industry — especially senior companies — fails to invest in technology that will create a paradigm shift, Lassonde warned.

He is a firm believer that gold's bull run is not over and could continue for another five to 10 years.

With gold demand sitting at $220 billion, growth is ten-fold higher than it was a decade ago, Lassonde pointed out. He questioned if any other industry can make such a claim. Furthermore, he projected that inflation and demand from India and China will drive further growth.

Cash is trash and central banks are realizing that all currency is suspect, he said. He foresees a growing trend of central bank gold purchases and he thinks money managers will return to a tendency of holding five to 10 percent of their portfolios in gold.

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