Gold production is way up in the last four years at Kinross Gold (KGC). But so is political risk. Gold production will climb to a projected 2.4 million ounces in 2009 from 1.5 million ounces in 2006. One key to that increase has been the Kupol gold mine in northeast Russia, which produced its first gold in May 2008. With a production cost of just $220 an ounce, Kupol is one of the lowest cost mines in the world. Which would be great—except that the Russian government has a history of reallocating ownership of lucrative mines and oil and gas fields from foreign companies to Russian champions. So far, Kinross, which owns 75% of the venture at Kupol, has had only the usual problems of permitting, but the company’s exposure to Russia makes the shares a little less useful as a hedge against economic uncertainty since when the world wobbles Russia lurches. Kinross doesn’t have all its new gold production in one basket, however. Expansion at the company’s Paracatu mine in Brazil and the startup of its Kettle River-Buckhorn mine in the United States have been big contributors to increased production. As of July 1, I’m leaving my target price for these shares at $21 by December 2009.
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