Mining sector sheltered from Brexit shock by gold and dollar strength
* Mining sector falls less than blue-chip FTSE 100 index
* Uncertainty complicates debt and M&A activity
* Large mining companies had opposed British exit from EU
BRUSSELS, June 24 (Reuters) - Big mining companies found some shelter from the shock of Britain's decision to leave the European Union from Friday's rare combination of stronger gold and a relatively strong dollar.
The overall mining sector fell 2.5 percent while the blue-chip FTSE 100 index was down 4.6 percent by 1230 GMT.
Top gainers were gold producers Randgold Resources and Fresnillo, whose share prices climbed by 19.4 percent and 12.5 percent respectively while Gold rose by about 5 percent as traders sought a store of value and sterling sank to its lowest in decades.
"It's a vote for the unknown, but the miners are mostly dollar earners. It doesn't make much difference," Investec analyst Jeremy Wrathall said.
For the longer term, however, the uncertainty resulting from a so-called Brexit could also thwart miners' efforts to sell assets to reduce debt. Merger and acquisition activity had already slowed to the lowest since records began during the run up to the referendum.
Among the miners, one of the weakest performers was Glencore , down 7 percent. Analysts said the company's high level of debt makes it vulnerable in uncertain times, though the upheaval could create arbitrage opportunities for its trading operations. Continuación...