Exchange traded funds backed by physical holdings of gold, including the group’s largest fund, the SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD), have rebounded with a vengeance. In the past month, GLD is up nearly 8%, but even that performance pales in comparison to what various equity-based mining ETFs have offered.

Nearly left for dead just a few months, ETFs such as the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSE: GDX) have surged. In the past month, GDX is up nearly 12% and since the start of July, the ETF has gained almost 10%. Since its June lows, GDX has raked in more than $100 million in net asset flows via creations, according to Paul Weisbruch of Street One Financial. [ETF Chart of the Day: Gold Miners]

Miners’ recent out-performance of gold futures is a departure from what investors saw over the past few years. Gold futures and ETFs such as GLD rose, but GDX and other mining ETFs spent more time in the red than in the green. Over the past five years, GDX is still down more than 30%. [Technical Outlook Improving for Gold Miners ETF]

So when gold futures started declining earlier this year, it was not surprising that mining ETFs were subjected to significant pain. That pain grew worse as gold fell below $1,300 an ounce, stoking speculation that even large-cap miners would lose money if gold languished below that price area for too long. Newmont Mining (NYSE: NEM) recently announced a significant write-down to reflect falling gold prices. Barrick (NYSE: ABX) has looked to sell assets to generate cash. Those stocks combine for almost 20% of GDX’s weight.

With gold back above $1,300 per troy ounce, some miners could see some relief. Yamana Gold (NYSE: AUY), Barrick and Kinross Gold (NYSE: KGC) have all-in cash costs of $856 to $1,038 per ounce, writes James Brumley for InvestorPlace.

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