Gold miners in Utah are losing their confidence amid a government shutdown and fears of a steep drop in demand.
“It’s been a bad week,” said Mike Gannett, who owns about 15 million ounces of gold and silver bullion.
“We’ve been on a downward slide.
We’re looking at an average of about 10 percent drop in sales.”
Gannett is one of about a dozen investors in Utah’s mining industry that are buying back shares in the precious metal industry.
He said his investments in gold and other metals are now at about $4 billion, down from $6 billion last year.
For now, he said he is “pretty happy” and “getting back to basics.”
The silver bull market is in a tailspin, and prices have fallen in recent weeks.
That means more money is going to the miners, who are struggling to sell their shares.
In the first quarter, silver futures traded at a three-year low, according to the silver contract data provider FactSet.
The price of a pound of silver has declined about 12 percent since June, and gold has lost about 15 percent since last year, according, FactSet data.
Gold miners say that the stock market has turned into a game of “poker chips,” with investors betting that demand for the precious metals will rise after a shutdown.
There are fears the shutdown will slow demand for precious metals, which are used in jewelry, jewelry-making and jewelry-related businesses.
If precious metals become a big part of demand, it could push prices down further.
Utah, home to the largest gold and precious metals reserves in the world, has been trying to keep miners in business after a 2011 federal mine ban.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to block Utah’s decision to open a second gold mine at the old Gold King Mine, a project that had been proposed by a consortium of companies including the Utah Gold Association.
U.S., the U.K. and Canada have all shut down gold mining operations.
More than 100 Utah mining companies are listed on the London-based precious metals exchange BullionStar.