Most analysts agree that political uncertainty, increased interest rates and the state of the US dollar will continue to be key drivers for the gold price, and subsequently demand for, and production of, the yellow metal.

Our feature on gold focuses on trends, analysis and the movers within this space.

But let’s face it. Trying to pin a gold trend in the current market is like trying to pin water to a wall. Despite rising interest rates, monetary policy normalisation, and a still solidly performing stock market, gold managed to hold its ground in 2017. Yet, in 2018, gold demand had a soft start to the year, reaching 973 tonnes (t), the lowest first quarter since 2008. The World Gold Council attributes this decline to a fall in investment demand for gold bars and gold backed ETFs, partly due to range-bound gold prices. The gold price itself appears to not to go anywhere in particular either.

Yet, despite this, a number of companies are ramping up gold exploration or entering the space anew across Australia, Asia and Indonesia.

Albeit differing geographical, operational and regulatory challenges, a number of gold mining companies are also working towards cleaner and more sustainable operations.

This appears to be reflected (slowly) across the industry as a whole. The continued mounting pressure from investors and society on the mining sector to become better “corporate citizens”, is pushing cleaner and more environmentally accountable practices up the corporate agenda of many mining companies.

In this issue we explore the current shifts driven by ASEAN in tackling the serious issue of sustainable mine closures across the region. With more than 600 million consumers, ASEAN has a large industry base with a vast potential for investor opportunities, with mineral development recognised as being pivotal in strengthening ASEAN unity and solidarity.

As evidenced through the mounting pressure on Nautilus Minerals and their proposed deep-sea mining project in Papua New Guinea (see page 21), mounting environmental and social pressure on operational accountability can bring a project into turmoil.

Consequently, an increasing number of industry bodies are releasing good practice guidelines to steer the sector – albeit still at times rather stubbornly – towards more sustainable practices across all operations – starting at “the hole” and ending with “the end product”.

We are also witnessing more mining companies collaborate directly with researchers in the development of more efficient and environmentally friendly mining equipment, technologies, waste management and alternative energy productions. Developments that, in a long run, are proving to be good not only for the environment but also for the bottom line.

In this edition of the magazine we also look at what is happening across our region, with a focus on Papua New Guinea (PNG).

In the aftermath of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck on 26 February of this year in the Southern Highlands and Hela regions, PNG’s lucrative mining and LNG sectors are beginning to return to full operations, but continued local disquiet in some parts of the region threaten the fragile conditions.