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Happy ending

Things that come in threes are, apparently, funnier, more satisfying or more effective than other frequencies, and there is a greater likelihood of our remembering the information. References in threes combine brevity and rhythm with containing the smallest amount of information that can create a pattern.

S&P Global Market Intelligence this week launched its third series of metals reports, a quarterly publication on the mined supply of gold, which joins the existing monthly Commodity Briefing Service, or CBS, reports on copper and nickel. The new report is not intended necessarily to make our metals studies funnier, but it might make them more satisfying and assist their effectiveness.

We plan two more CBS reports in 2017, on iron ore and zinc, but it is hard to ignore the power of three, especially given the Latin phrase "omne trium perfectum," meaning everything that comes in threes is perfect.

The use of three elements is well established in public oratory, being known as hendiatris, from the Greek: hen dia treis, meaning "one through three". Adjectives can be grouped in threes to emphasize a description, and repetitive verbs are also effective. Memorably, Julius Caesar gave us "veni, vidi, vici," and examples from the civil rights activist Martin Luther King include "insult, injustice and exploitation" and "justice, good will and brotherhood." Interestingly, in a famous speech to the House of Commons in May 1940, Winston Churchill offered the nation his "blood, toil, tears and sweat" but this is now popularly remembered as "blood, sweat and tears."

Examples from William Shakespeare include "Cry God for Harry, England and St. George" from Henry V, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" from Julius Caesar and "Be bloody, bold and resolute" from Macbeth. Long before then, triple iterations were used to great effect by the Roman philosopher, politician and famous orator Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC). The words Ciceronian, meaning "eloquent," and cicerone, or "local guide," derive from his name.

In slogans, this technique is known as a tripartite motto. For example, Mars advertised for over 50 years that its confectionery bar helps us "work, rest and play," and safety campaigns have long advised road users to "stop, look and listen." The slogan of the French Republic for over 200 years has been "liberté, egalité, fraternité," and the Olympic motto is "citius, altius, fortius," or faster, higher, stronger.

In fairy stories — "tales" in North America — sets of three characters feature prominently and include bears and their porridge, chairs and beds, little pigs, and billy goats — gruff males.

With the Dec. 20 publication of "Mined Supply Report: Gold," our metals reports also now come in threes. Editor Christopher Galbraith examines the world's gold mines and projects to estimate this year's output and forecast mined gold production over the next five years.

Galbraith expects all but one of the world's 10 largest gold mines to register higher production this year, and the output of the other, Cortez, to be unchanged. S&P Global Market Intelligence expects these operations to yield a combined 12.0 million ounces this year, representing 12.5% of the world total. The next 10 largest gold mines contribute only a further 6.7% to the global total, illustrating the unconcentrated nature of the sector compared with most other metals.

Galbraith expects global gold production this year to rise 0.7% to reach 95.9 Moz and to increase a further 2.1% next year to 97.9 Moz. Grasberg is expected to produce 3.28 Moz in 2017, leapfrogging Muruntau to become the world's largest gold producer. Grasberg is not expected to retain the top spot thereafter, however, as ore grades and tonnages are likely to fall in 2018.

At the national level, "Mined Supply Report: Gold" expects China's gold production to reach 15.4 Moz this year, compared with 15.0 Moz in 2015, but to slip back to 13.1 Moz by 2020. Russia will remain in second place this year, with 9.4 Moz, but is now neck and neck with Australia, which has seen production rise to 9.4 Moz in 2016 from 8.5 Moz in 2015. The U.S. and Canada remain in fourth and fifth place with 6.9 Moz and 5.6 Moz, respectively. These rankings are expected to have reversed by 2020, with Canada producing 6.4 Moz and the U.S. only 5.5 Moz.

The first of our quarterly reports on the mined supply of gold coincides with the last of our weekly blogs, which started in Aug. 2014 (although under a different name), and 12 authors have contributed to the 121 blogs. After more than 28 months, and with many new reports on the horizon, the SNL Metals & Mining team is bringing this irreverent weekly note to an end. Many of the blogs will have been too hot, or too cold, but some, we hope, were just right.