• By The Financial District


Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway took a surprise stake in Barrick Gold earlier this year, Theron Mohamed wrote for BusinessInsider.

The famed investor's endorsement could spur more investors to bet on the metal, NovaGold chairman Thomas Kaplan said on an earnings call this week. "He's made it safe for anyone interested in gold to be looking at the gold narrative," he added. Kaplan previously benefited from Buffett's unexpected purchase of 130 million ounces of silver in the late 1990s, as it legitimized the metal as an investment.

Buffett "effectively detoxified gold" when his Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate revealed a $564 million stake in the gold miner in August, the NovaGold chairman said. Berkshire's Barrick Gold bet was unexpected as Buffett previously dismissed gold as a worse investment than businesses, farms, and other productive assets. The metal is "neither of much use nor procreative," he said in his 2011 shareholder letter.

Barrick and NovaGold are 50-50 owners of the Donlin Gold project in Alaska, making Kaplan a major beneficiary of a Buffett bet for the second time. Buffett disclosed his purchase of 130 million ounces of silver in February 1998, legitimizing the metal as an investment shortly before Kaplan took his silver-mining company public. Kaplan personally thanked the investor at a dinner several years later.