Venezuela: We are Serious About Our Gold

Last month, Hugo Chavez announced that he is nationalizing the entire gold (NYSE:GLD) industry of Venezuela.  In addition to the nationalization, Bloomberg reported the central bank of Venezuela sent a statement via email requesting its 99 tons of gold holdings from the Bank of England by sea.  Now, Venezuela is taking its gold bug status to a new level.

Venezuela will extend its nationalization movement by banning the export of gold (NYSE:PHYS) out of its country.  On Monday, new guidelines laid out by the Official Gazette said, ” All gold that is obtained through mining activity within national territory will be handed over to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.  The government will have a monopoly of production and sales.” The decree also states that the government will hold at least 55% of any joint ventures, and sets a royalty rate of 10% to 13%.  The rate could fall to as low as 3% for small community based operations in the country’s southeast region. Companies will have 90 days to form joint ventures and all gold production will be sold to the state.

More Gold Insight:  European Central Banks Are Hungry for Gold

In order to enforce the gold nationalization, Venezuela will establish military zones using the National Guard to reduce illegal mining operations.  In May, Hugo Chavez claimed that Venezuela produces 11 metric tons of gold a year, but illegal miners extract another 10 to 11 tons a year.

Investors looking to hold precious metals in their portfolio may want to consider gold plays such as AngloGold (NYSE:AU), Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM), or Market Vectors Jr Gold Miners ETF (NYSE:GDXJ). Silver plays include First Majestic Silver (NYSE:AG),Endeavour Silver (NYSE:EXK), and Global X Silver Miners ETF (NYSE:SIL).

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Disclosure: Long AGO, AG