Gold is down nearly five percent so far this year and if the losses continue, the metal faces the first back-to-back quarterly loss since 2001, which would mark a gold market "recession" according to the conventional definition of two subsequent quarters of negative growth, Mining.com points out.On Thursday, amid a re-opening of Cypriot banks after a two-week hiatus due to the island's financial woes, gold continued to splutter, and by the end of the trading session the overall trend was down. April COMEX gold futures last traded down $11.80 an ounce at $1,594.40 an ounce, while spot gold was last quoted down $10.60 at $1,595.25. Friday is expected to be a quiet day for precious metals with North American markets closed for the Easter holiday. Company news Barrick Gold (TSX:ABX,NYSE:ABX) founder Peter Munk is resigning from his position as chairman, prompting the world's largest gold miner to initiate a search for his successor. In a letter to shareholders released on Tuesday, Munk said it is time for the company to "consider a path to new leadership at our board level." Munk singled out John Thornton, who was made Barrick co-chair in 2012, as a likely successor. Barrick, whose stock has floundered to its lowest point since 2008 on cost-overruns and delays on key projects, replaced CEO Aaront Regent with Jamie Sokalsky last June. The Bachelor Gold Mine in Quebec is due to start commercial production, according to a report from The Montreal Gazette. The mine, owned by Metanor Resources (TSXV:MTO), will produce 50,000 to 60,000 ounces a year from an underground operation. The newspaper said the mine "has overcome long permitting delays and labour shortages" after an investment of $100 million. The company has been pouring gold non-commercially since last summer. Randgold Resources (LSE:RRS) has a kitty full of cash and is exploring joint venture opportunities, the Africa-focused gold producer announced on Thursday. Writing in the company's 2012 annual report, CEO Mark Bristow said Randgold's top priority is to pour gold at its Kibali project in the DRC before the end of the year. Despite dropping $562 million on capital expenditures last year, Randgold had $403 million in the bank at the close of 2012, according to Bristow, putting the company in a good position to make acquisitions: “Our exploration teams are hunting for additional resources for our mines as well as fresh targets that will produce our next big discovery."
Toronto-based Aurico Gold (TSX:AUQ,NYSE:AUQ) reported a fourth-quarter loss of $134.4 million after taking a $127 million impairment charge related to stripping costs at its El Chanate mine in Mexico. The loss compares to net income of $23 million during the fourth quarter of 2011.Polyus Gold (LSE:POLG), Russia's largest gold miner, saw its share price drop this week after it announced delays to its Natalka project. Reuters reported that the large gold mine in the Russian Far East will begin operations in summer 2014, not by the end of this year as was previously planned. Junior company news GoldQuest Mining (TSXV:GQC) spiked 30.9 percent on Wednesday after the company announced discovery of a new trend about two kilometers west of its Romero project in Dominican Republic. Samples taken from the kilometer-long trend returned grades over 1 percent copper, with five samples over 10 percent and 13 samples grading between 5 and 10 percent. GoldQuest had a spectacular run last year, with the stock price gaining an eye-popping 726 percent, earning it the top spot among Gold Investing News' Top 10 Gold Juniors of 2012. Northern Vertex Mining (TSXV:NEE), exploring for gold and silver in Arizona, has demonstrated positive economics for its Moss Mine project. The Moss Mine shows a net present value of $110 million based on a 5-percent discount rate, and would yield investors a 117.9-percent (pre-tax) internal rate of return on a quick payback of 15 months, according to its preliminary economic assessment (PEA) released Thursday. Premium Exploration (TSXV:PEM) announced the signing of an Option and Joint Venture Agreement with Logan Resources Ltd. (TSXV:LGR) Under the terms of the agreement, Logan has an option to acquire a 75-percent interest in the Idaho Gold property. Colombian Mines (TSXV:CMJ) announced that reconnaissance work identified additional high grade mineralization up to 2.3 grams of gold per tonne, 203 grams silver per tonne and 10.1-percent copper in grab samples from outcropping mineralization in a new area in the Mercedes property.