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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Australia’s 2016 Gold Output Highest This Century

According to Melbourne based consultancy, Surbiton Associates, which specialises in analysis of the Australian gold sector, the country’s 2016 new mined gold output came out at 298 tonnes, the highest annual production total since 1999.  This would seem to confirm Australia’s position as the world’s second largest gold producer after China (ca 455 tonnes according to latest USGS figures) and still ahead of Russia in third place which the USGS estimates produced 250 tonnes.  In fairness we should point out that the USGS estimate for Australian gold output for 2016 is a rather lower 270 tonnes, but we would take the Surbiton Associates figure as being locally analysed, and more up to date and thus the more accurate.  However this means that the USGS estimates for other countries may be equally under- or over- stated and we await more definitive figures as the year progresses.

One of the key factors in the rise in Australian gold output has been the strength of the gold price in Australian dollars – currently close to Aus$1,640 according to Kitco.com. “This has encouraged the redevelopment of previously mined areas and the refurbishment of mothballed plants, thereby pushing Australian gold output higher.” Reports Surbiton Director, Dr Sandra Close

“It was a good year for Australia’s gold miners,” she says. “We are getting very close to the 300 tonne a year mark but we still have a way to go to break the all-time annual record of 314 tonnes set in 1997.” Dr Close went on to say that from its all-time high some twenty years ago, Australian gold production had fallen to 220 tonnes by 2008 but since then has been trending upwards.

Australia’s largest gold producers in 2016 year were: 

Operation

Ounces

Owner

Boddington

800,000

Newmont Mining Corp

Super Pit – JV

754,000

Newmont Mining Corp 50%, Barrick Gold Corp 50%

Cadia East

732,288

Newcrest Mining Ltd

Tanami

459,000

Newmont Mining Corp

Telfer

440,519

Newcrest Mining Ltd

     

Note:  Newmont is the world’s second largest gold miner and Newcrest sixth.  Barrick – the world’s No. 1 gold miner in production terms, has been trying to sell its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit to China’s Minjar Gold, a subsidiary of Shandong Tianye Group, for a reported US$1.3 billion, as part of its debt reduction exercise to dispose of non-core holdings, but this process seems to have stalled according to Dr. Close.

Assuming the Australian gold price holds up there does seem to be a reasonable chance that the country's 2017 gold output exceeds the 300 tonne mark.  There are several potential new projects in the pipeline and, Surbiton notes, production also continues to increase from some of the junior gold mining companies which either sell parcels of gold ore to the larger producers with spare milling capacity, or enter into toll treatment agreements and sell the gold on their own account. 

So much for Peak Gold - at least as far as Australia is concerned!

26 Feb 2017 | Categories: Gold, Mining

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