Gold bullion ETFs are in positive territory for 2012, however, the mining stocks have failed to keep pace. Some gold miners are blaming this problem on exchange traded funds, the investment tool that has allowed easy access to this area of the market.

“Although gold miners obviously depend on high gold prices, investing in mining stocks is a lot different from buying bullion, either directly or through bullion ETFs. For miners to shine, they have to demonstrate not only that high gold prices will create profits but also that they’ll do everything they can to operate efficiently and maximize profits. If that happens, then mining companies won’t have to worry about attracting capital — investors will flood them with it,” Dan Caplinger wrote on The Motley Fool. [Gold ETFs: Miners Vs. Bullion]

Kirkland Lake Gold CEO Brain Hinchcliff says that ETFs are becoming competitors for investors’ capital. Over the past two years there has been about $100 billion in mergers and acquisitions within the industry, however, Hinchcliff argues that overpriced takeover bids and profit squandering have led investors to choose bullion holding ETFs instead of miners. [Gold Miner ETFs Eye Dividends]

A theory is that the billions of dollars that went into gold-backed funds such as the $67 billion SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) in essence has attracted assets that could have ended up in mining stocks.

Miner ETFs include Market Vectors Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDX) and Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners (NYSEArca: GDXJ).

In response, some point out that if the gold ETFs are out of the picture, gold prices may have never risen in the first place, leaving mining stocks even worse off.