Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (ABX), Goldcorp Inc. (USA) (GG), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX): This Is How I Would Invest In Gold

I’m not much of a gold investor; however, as someone that likes a good value, the recent sell off in gold has caught my eye. I’ve never really understood why investors are so drawn to the metal, especially when I have concern that market manipulators are really a big problem. That being said, if I were to lay down a chunk of change on that shiny metal, other than to buy my wife a gift, I think I’ve found the investment of choice.

Before I get to that company, bear with me as I dig deeper into what I won’t be buying. Topping the list is gold ETF SPDR Gold Trust (ETF) (NYSEMKT:GLD) . Because its job is to track the price of gold, you’re basically holding paper that’s worth is tied up in the market’s sentiment. That just doesn’t work for me, I’m an investor in businesses and not in ticker symbols.

The problem is, the gold mining business is a risky one, to say the least. The operational risks can really affect the performance of the company relative to its peers. Cost overruns when expanding production can be so severe it can lead to very costly future write-downs. Further, work stoppages are common — just last week Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) was forced to halt construction work on the Chilean side of one of its mines, for the project is causing environmental damage.

Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX)

To alleviate some of these operational risks I could invest in a top-tier gold miner like Goldcorp Inc. (USA) (NYSE:GG) . It’s one of the largest pure-play gold miners. Because of its large scale, it has a very low cost of production. However, you’re still subject to all the risks I previously mentioned which could tarnish the investment.

Another option is to turn to a more diversified miner like Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX) Copper & Gold . As the name would imply, the company has a large copper operation, in fact it’s the second-largest producer of copper in the world. What the name doesn’t imply, is that the company has diversified further, this time into oil and gas production. That diversity could really help to alleviate some of the specific operational risks of mining. However, if you want a pure play on pure gold, then you’d probably not care much for diversification.

With that as a back drop, I’ve found what I think is a better solution to the risks of investing in gold while sticking with a more pure-play investment.