Though 2009 is slated to be another challenging year for gold, most gold producing companies are securely placed to benefit from gold’s continued strength. Take the case of Randgold Resources Ltd, (NASDAQ:GOLD, LON:RRS) the owner of gold mines in West Africa, which has announced upgrades.

The company said Thursday that at the attributable level, measured, indicated and inferred resources rose to 16.13 million ounces at the end of 2008, from 13.50 million ounces at the end of 2007 - an increase of 20 per cent.

The increases in the former categories resources are mainly attributable to the delineation of 3.39 million ounce inferred resource at its 83 per cent owned Massawa project in Senegal. The company also plans to transfer resources to reserves at the Massawa project, which is planned to be moved to pre feasibility by the end of 2009, and feasibility by end of 2010.

“The continuing growth in the company’s reserves and resources provides a solid foundation to beat our forecast of a 50 per cent growth in production by 2011 and beyond,” chief executive Mark Bristow said. Its robust balance sheet, with available cash of more than US$250 million, gives it the capacity to self-fund its growth projects.

Similarly, Temex Resources Corp. (CVE:TME) has announced that drilling on the Whitney Township Property is continuing to intersect high grade gold values on the Hallnor deep targets with all holes drilled to date having intersected visible gold. The Property occurs within 4 kilometre and includes the former Broulan Reef and Hallnor Mines. The Hallnor Mine was one of the highest grade gold mines in the 65 million ounce Timmins Gold Camp, with historic production totalling more than 1.65 million ounces of gold.

All holes drilled have intersected visible gold and significant results obtained to date by Temex on the 19 Vein include 21.10 g/t gold over 6.55 metres and 21.02 g/t gold over 2.30 metres. Several other high grade veins have been intersected within the broad 19 Vein alteration halo. Meanwhile drilling is underway on a significant new target recently identified in the Upper Hallnor area of the Mine block of the Property. This new target became evident through ongoing evaluation of the historical drill results in combination with current drilling.

The Property is owned by Porcupine Gold Mines which is a joint venture between Goldcorp Inc. (TSE:G) and Goldcorp Canada Ltd., and Temex has the option to earn a 60 per cent interest. Temex expects to complete the $4.0 million expenditure commitment in May 2009.

Volta Resources Inc. (TSE:VTR) too has announced that 30 copper-gold porphyry targets have been highlighted from three dimensional processing and interpretation of high resolution airborne magnetic data recently obtained on the company’s Gaoua copper-gold porphyry project in southern Burkina Faso, West Africa. A total of 30 targets, including the known mineralisation at Gongondy, Dienemera, Mont Biri and Boussera, have been identified for follow-up geochemical sampling.

Not to be outdone, Minera IRL Limited (LON:MIRL) announced that recent drilling results at the Ollachea Project in the Puno district of southern Peru have confirmed a substantial new gold discovery. Since October last year, 26 diamond drill holes have been completed.

The major focus of the drill program has been to better understand the significance of the highly encouraging gold intersections. Chairman Courtney Chamberlain said: “The results of the ongoing drilling program at Ollachea using 2 diamond rigs are very exciting. The central zone is shaping up well. As a result, management is currently developing an expanded work program so that the project can be progressed more aggressively.”

G20 Meet

Even as firms stock up on their positions, Britain wants an agreement from the Group of 20 nations to improve the way the International Monetary Fund uses its cash, including freeing up money for lending by selling gold reserves. International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said: “Among the measures we hope we can affect is the commitment to provide more and better funds for the IMF and World Bank including by using profits from the sale of IMF gold reserves. There have already been conversations with the South Africans and others in terms of whether the gold market can bear a phased and appropriate sale in a way that makes sense commercially.”

The IMF’s board approved in April 2008 to sell 403.3 tons of bullion as part of a plan to close the Washington-based lender’s annual deficit. The Obama administration soon will push Congress for legislation that allows the IMF to “mobilize” its stockpile of gold to boost its funds, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner had said on March 11.

A decision to sell gold requires the backing of 85 per cent of the IMF’s executive board, and the board representative from the U.S. need the approval of Congress to vote in favor of sales.

Gold for immediate delivery traded at $911.77 an ounce in London, by 12 pm. The metal gained the past eight years and is up 3.3 per cent in 2009.

However, in New York, gold futures fell over 3 per cent to below $900 an ounce Thursday, after comments from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown further raised optimism about a global economic recovery and reduced gold’s appeal as a safe asset. Gold for April delivery fell $30.50, to $895.60 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.