Gordon Chang: China will buy gold to pay for Iranian oil

Section:

The Best Reason in the World to Buy Gold

By Gordon Chang
Forbes.com
Sunday, April 22, 2012

http://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonchang/2012/04/22/the-best-reason-in-th...

Beijing is planning to avoid U.S. financial sanctions on Iran by paying for oil with gold. China's imports of the metal are already large, and you can guess what additional purchases are going to do to prices.

On the last day of 2011 President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012. The NDAA, as it is called, attempts to reduce Iran's revenue from the sale of petroleum by imposing sanctions on foreign financial institutions conducting transactions with Iranian financial institutions in connection with those sales. This provision, which essentially cuts off sanctioned institutions from the U.S. financial system, takes effect on June 28.

The NDAA gives the president the power to waive the sanctions depending on the availability and price of supplies from non-Iranian sources. He can also exempt financial institutions from countries that have significantly cut back purchases of Iranian petroleum. Last month the State Department announced waivers for Japan and 10 European countries. China, which has received American waivers in the past under other Iran legislation, is now Tehran's largest oil customer and investor as well as its largest trading partner. Given the new mood in Washington, Beijing cannot count on getting more exceptions in the future.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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Prophecy Platinum (TSXV: NKL) and Ursa Major Minerals
Sign Combination Agreement

Company Press Release
Friday, March 2, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada -- Prophecy Platinum Corp. (TSX-V: NKL, OTC-QX: PNIKF, Frankfurt: P94P) and Ursa Major Minerals Inc. have signed a binding letter of agreement for a business combination through a proposed all-share transaction. In doing so Prophecy and Ursa have acted at arm's length and the transaction has been negotiated at arm's length.

Prophecy will issue one common share in exchange for every 25 outstanding common shares of Ursa. Ursa options and warrants will be exchanged for options and warrants of Prophecy on an agreed schedule.

Prophecy's offer represents a value of about $0.15 per each common share of Ursa based on Prophecy's share price of $3.70 as at March 1, representing a premium of 130 percent to Ursa's March 1 closing price of $0.065.

Prophecy is to subscribe for $1 million common shares of Ursa by way of private placement financing at $0.06 per share, subject to regulatory approval. Upon placement completion, John Lee and Greg Hall, current Prophecy directors, will be appointed to Ursa's board.

Prophecy thus will become a mid-tier resource company with a robust and diversified pipeline of platinum nickel projects, including:

-- The fully permitted open-pit Shakespeare PGM-Ni-Cu mine close to Sudbury, Ontario, infrastructure with near-term production capabilities.

-- The flagship Wellgreen (Yukon) PGM-Ni-Cu project with more than 10 million ounces of Pt-Pd-Au inferred resource. Drilling is under way and a preliminary economic assessment study is pending.

-- Manitoba's Lynn Lake Ni-Cu project with more than 262 million pounds Ni and 138 million pounds Cu measured and indicated.

For the complete announcement, please visit Prophecy Platinum's Internet site here:

http://www.prophecyplat.com/news_2012_mar02_prophecy_platinum_ursa_major...



As The Wall Street Journal noted in early January, the sanctions are "an attempt to force other countries to choose between buying oil from Iran or being blocked from any dealings with the U.S. economy." The strict measures put Chinese officials in a bind. They apparently believe their geopolitical interests align with those of Tehran, but their economy is becoming increasingly reliant on America's.

So how can Beijing keep both Iran’s ayatollahs and President Obama happy at the same time?

Simple, the Chinese can avoid the U.S. sanctions through barter. China has already been trading its produce for Iran's petroleum, but there is only so much gai lan and bok choy the Iranians can eat. That's why Iran is also accepting, among other goods, Chinese washing machines, refrigerators, toys, clothes, cosmetics, and toiletries.

The barter trade works, but Iran needs cash too. As it is being cut off from the global financial system, the next best thing is gold. So we should not be surprised that in late February the Iranian central bank said it would accept that metal as payment for oil. Last year China imported $21.7 billion in Iranian oil and exported $14.8 billion in goods and services. As the NDAA goes into effect, look for Beijing to ship gold to Iran to make up the difference.

Gold bugs, however, shouldn't get too happy about Iran's plight. There are five principal factors that will depress anticipated demand for gold used to buy Iranian oil. First, other countries will also be bartering agricultural and manufactured goods. Russia and Pakistan, for instance, will undoubtedly continue wheat-for-petroleum arrangements.

Second, Tehran, out of apparent desperation, in February said it would also accept local currencies, thereby avoiding the U.S. financial system. As a result the Indians announced in January that they would not request a waiver from the Obama administration, and they began opening rupee accounts to pay for as much as 45% of their oil purchases with their currency. In 2011 India exported only $2.7 billion to Iran while buying $9.5 billion in oil. Similarly, the Chinese, smelling blood in the water, will surely press the Iranians to accept the non-convertible renminbi.

Third, the result of sanctions is that Iran's oil exports could be cut by as much as 700,000 barrels a day. China, for instance, is increasing its oil purchases from Saudi Arabia, its largest foreign supplier. The Chinese are also buying more from the Persian Gulf emirates as well as Vietnam, Russia, and Africa. Of course, every drop of other crude decreases China's demand for Iran's.

Fourth, China and other countries are taking advantage of Iran's plight by negotiating large price reductions.

Fifth, if the Iranians are willing to accept wheat and non-tradable currencies in payment for oil, there is nothing to say they won't start agreeing to silver too.

But nothing shines like gold. And there is one other reason to be bullish on the yellow metal. "This isn’t the end of the road," noted an unnamed senior administration official to The Wall Street Journal days after the enactment of the NDAA. "There are many other sanctions we can put in place and that our multilateral partners around the world can put in place and will." As Washington tightens financial measures against Iran, the mullahs will have less access to hard currency and therefore more need for gold.

Unless, of course, they want to accumulate more Chinese washing machines.

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Sona Discovers Potential High-Grade Gold Mineralization
at Blackdome in British Columbia -- 13.6g over 1.5 Meters

From a Company Press Release
November 22, 2011

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- With its latest surface diamond drilling program at its 100-percent-owned, formerly producing Blackdome gold mine in southern British Columbia, Sona Resources Corp. has discovered a potentially high-grade gold-mineralized area, with one hole intersecting 13.6 grams of gold in 1.5 meters of core drilling.

"We intersected a promising new mineralized zone, and we feel optimistic about the assay results," says Sona's president and CEO, John P. Thompson. "We have undertaken an aggressive exploration program that has tested a number of target zones. Our discovery of this new gold-bearing structure is significant, and it represents a positive development for the company."

Sona aims to bring its permitted Blackdome mill back into production over the next year and a half, at a rate of 200 tonnes per day, with feed from the formerly producing Blackdome mine and the nearby Elizabeth gold deposit property. A positive preliminary economic assessment by Micon International Ltd., based on a gold price of $950 per ounce over eight years, has estimated a cash cost of $208 per tonne milled, or $686 per gold ounce recovered.

For the company's complete press release, please visit:

http://www.sonaresources.com/_resources/news/SONA_NR18_2011-opt.pdf