KITCO NEWS -- As investors shy away from gold given the metal’s continuous decline and imminent U.S. interest rate hike, one senior economist says that there may be a bigger threat to prices: mine supply. 'Those familiar with our research will know that we aren’t especially optimistic about gold in the short term because we think that it’s driven by mining supply to a much greater extent than most people realize, and that mining supply, in our view, is likely to continue growing,' Erik Norland told Kitco News in an interview Tuesday. 'Our perspective on mining supply appears to be in the minority. Many analysts think that gold-mining supply is likely to come down significantly in the next few years. If mining companies begin shutting down production, it would be bullish for gold,' he explained. According to the economist, inflation is also not a major problem ahead and in turn should continue to pressure gold prices. Gold prices saw a modest boost Tuesday morning on safe-haven demand after hitting a 5.5-year low. February comex gold futures were last quoted up $10.50 at $1,077.10 an ounce.