Gold mining stocks plummeted Wednesday even though the price of the metal slipped only a bit and the broader equity market, as measured by the S&P 500, declined modestly.

The S&P 500 closed 1.26 percent lower, the Dow Jones Industrial Average settled 0.63 percent off and the Nasdaq Composite ended down 2.01 percent.

Gold for December delivery on the Comex closed down one-third of a percent.

Despite the small declines in stocks and gold, shares of gold mining companies fell hard.

The benchmark NYSE ARCA Gold Bugs Index dropped 5.75 percent.

Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. plunged nearly 19 percent after closing flooding at its Goldex mine in Quebec forced a suspension of operations. 

Barrick Gold Corp. fell 4.9 percent, Goldcorp Inc. was down 5.4 percent, Kinross Gold Corp. declined 7.06 percent, IAMGOLD Corp. was off 7.99 percent, Harmony Gold Mining Co. gave up 6.18 percent and Eldorado Gold Corp. dropped 5.85 percent.

Among those gold mining shares that are approaching their 52-week low are Barrick, Kinross, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., and Harmony.