Gold may be a shelter from the storms but when everyone and his dog jump in first and ask questions afterwards there may be a few problems. Such as when bullion heavy crowds, suffering equity selling fatigue, start eyeing up the financial crocks of the night and thinking, gee, in this light that one looks pretty good for a crock.

Fear and the blind stampede back into gold will return but, for now, feedback buying has moved on. Still, spare a thought for the diggers in the trenches who suffer through these things.

Gold producers tend at times like this to lie back and cite various bewildering costs per ounce ranging from $200 - $370 (Goldcorp and Barrick) to $530 - $612 (La Mancha Resources and New Gold). On the face of it, then, nothing to worry about.

Yet careful reading of the notes to the accounts is often needed to work out who is including capital expenditure or, for example, the start up costs of new mines. Nick Holland, the CEO of South African miner Gold Fields, puts his firm's operating plus capex costs at about $800/ounce. He also sees this number as a price-floor. But, economically speaking, that depends a teeny weeny bit on market demand (and, of course, momentum chappies).

With production costs rising and gold sitting at $805.25 (off $57.25) that level is about to be tested.

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