Billions wiped off gold mining stocks

The gold price fell by as much as $73 in morning trade on Friday crashing through the $1,500 an ounce level and causing mayhem among gold mining stocks.

The gold price is down 10% this year and Friday's sharp decline dragged it into official bear territory, defined as a 20% decline from a high ($1,909 intra-day in August 2011).

After the initial drop June gold futures regained some of its footing settling at $1,501.40 an ounce in New York, a 21-month low.

After hours renewed selling set in with gold giving up $88.80 an ounce to trade at $1,476.10 late Friday.

The retreat in the price of the yellow metal led to a bloodbath for mining stocks with gold counters dropping across the board.

Barrick Gold Corp (TSX:ABX) lost 8.2% bringing the week's decline for the Toronto-based global number one gold miner to over 15% following a steep sell-off on Wednesday when a court in Chile ordered a halt to work at its massive Pascua-Lama project. Barrick is worth just under $23 billion on the TSX, less than half it was worth in 2011.

Denver-based Newmont Mining Corp (NYSE:NEM) with a market value of $18 billion down from $30 billion last year shed 5.9%, while the world's third largest gold producer behind Newmont, AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE:AU) gave up 5.6%. The Johannesburg-based company's ADRs listed in New York is down a staggering 34% year to date.

Fellow South African miner Gold Fields (NYSE:GFI) traded down 5.9%. Canadian gold counters Goldcorp (TSX:G) and Kinross Gold (TSX:K) – which this year overtook Goldcorp as the world fifth largest gold miner in terms of output – lost 4.5% and 6.5% respectively. Goldcorp's market value peaked in 2011 when it was worth $30 billion, $6 billion more than today.

Australia's Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) was spared the carnage and ended unchanged on the Sydney bourse ahead of the metal sell-off in New York, while London-listed Polyus Gold also emerged relatively unscathed down 1%.

Rounding out the world's top 10 listed gold producers Johannesburg-based Harmony Gold Mining was also hard hit, down 8.3% in New York, while Peru's Compania de Minas Buenaventura (NYSE:BVN), which just edges out Canada's Yamana Gold (TSX:YRI) in terms of annual gold production, but is not so reliant on the precious metal for earnings shed 1.7%.

Yamana, which produces just over 1 million ounces per year was hammered down 6.7% on the Toronto big board.