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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: World Top 20 Gold Miners and Mines

More from the Metals Focus Gold Focus 2017 report released earlier this week, and this article probably should be viewed in conjunction with the previous onee on last year’s Top 20 gold producing countries – See:  Top 20 Gold Producing Nations See Small Gain in Output in 2016.  Herewith tabulations of the world’s biggest gold mining companies of last year and the world’s biggest operating mines according to Metals Focus’ team of analysts.

As will be seen from the tables, although overall global gold production rose last year some of the major producers – notably Barrick, AngloGold and Goldcorp all showed sharp reductions.  In Barrick’s case though this will largely have been due to divestments of non-core properties, but most of these will have continued production under their new ownerships.  Indeed some will have increased their outputs.  Barrick, though, is now in danger of being overtaken by Newmont as the world’s largest gold producer as its programme of divestment continues.  If it manages to sell its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit in Australia, which will have contributed 11 tonnes plus to Barrick’s total in 2016, that alone could bring the company’s annual total below that of Newmont.  The proposed sale of the Super Pit stake, which had been almost agreed with China’s Minjar Gold for $1.3 billion, appears to have stalled for the moment, but Barrick is still keen to sell, it is reported.

Newmont, on the other hand, having sold its stake in Batu Hijau in Indonesia (the world’s 9th largest gold mine – see Table 2. below) in 2016 is in the throes of an aggressive expansion programme, much of which comes to fruition this year.  It has been using the $1.3 billion it received for the stake in Batu Hijau to invest in the Cripple Creek and Victor properties in Colorado acquired from AngloGold and the development of Merian in Suriname and Long Canyon in Nevada.  While Newmont’s 2017 guidance of between 4.9 and 5.4 million ounces of gold is still well below that of Barrick’s 5.6-5.9 million ounces, the latter presumably includes the Kalgoorlie Super Pit share and if a sale occurs that will bring Barrick’s attributable output down sharply.

Table 1.  Top 20 Gold Producing Companies 2015/2016 (Tonnes) (1 tonne= 32150.7 troy ounces)

Rank

Country

2015 Output

2016 Output

%  Change

1

Barrick Gold

190.3

171.6

-10%

2

Newmont Mining

156.6

162.9

+4%

3

AngloGold Ashanti

122.8

112.8

-8%

4

Goldcorp

107.8

89.4

-17%

5

Kinross Gold

78.9

83.3

+6%

6

Newcrest Mining

77.4

76.7

-1%

7

Gold Fields

67.2

66.7

-1%

8

Polyus Gold

54.8

61.2

+12%

9

Navoi MMC (est)

61.0

61.0

-

10

Agnico Eagle Mines

52.0

51.7

-1%

11

Sibanye Gold

47.8

47.0

-2%

12

China National Gold

41.5

42.1

+1%

13

Yamana Gold

38.9

39.5

+2%

14

Randgold Resources

37.7

39.0

+3%

15

Shandong Gold

36.0

37.1

+3%

16

Zijin Mining

37.2

36.1

-3%

17

Harmony Gold

33.3

33.2

-

18

Glencore

30.0

31.9

+7%

19

Freeport McMoran

35.5

30.8

-13%

20

Fresnillo

23.7

29.1

+23%

Source: Metals Focus

The listing of the world’s biggest mines has seen some changes as the ebb and flow of gold production due to technical and political issues.  Of particular note perhaps is that there are no South African gold mines in the Top 20 gold mines below despite South Africa, once hugely the world’s biggest gold producing nation, managing to halt its seemingly inexorable year on year output decline in 2016. 

Table 2.  World’s 20 Largest Producing Gold Mines 2016 (tonnes of gold)

Rank

Mine Name

Country

Operator

2015 Output

2016 Output

%  Change

1

Muruntau

Uzbekistan

Uzbek Govt.

61.0

61.0

-

2

Pueblo Viejo

Dominican Rep

Barrick

29.7

36.3

+22%

3

Goldstrike

USA

Barrick

32.8

34.1

+4%

4

Grasberg

Indonesia

Freeport

38.3

33.0

-14%

5

Cortez

USA

Barrick

31.1

32.9

+6%

6

Carlin

USA

Newmont

27.6

29.4

+7%

7

Olimpiada

Russia

Polyus

23.6

29.3

+24%

8

Lihir

PNG

Newcrest

25.0

28.1

+12%

9

Batu Hijau

Indonesia

Amman Mineral

21.0

26.7

+27%

10

Boddington

Australia

Newmont

24.7

24.9

+1%

11

Cadia Valley

Australia

Newcrest

19.8

23.5

+19%

12

Super Pit

Australia

Newmont

19.9

23.3

+18%

13

Loulo-Gounkoto

Mali

Randgold

19.6

22.0

+12%

14

Kupol

Russia

Kinross

21.6

20.7

-4%

15

Yanacocha

Peru

Newmont

28.6

20.4

-29%

16

Kibali

DRC

Randgold

20.0

18.2

-9%

17

Canadian Malartic

Canada

Osisko

17.8

18.2

+2%

18

Tarkwa

Ghana

Gold Fields

18.2

17.7

-3%

19

Kumtor

Kyrgyzstan

Centerra

16.2

17.1

+6%

20

Sukari

Egypt

Centamin

13.7

17.1

+26%

Source: Metals Focus, Lawrieongold

Looking at the listing, the biggest gold mine – by a large margin – remains Muruntau in Uzbekistan, although the figure is only estimated.  Then comes the big Barrick/Newmont Pueblo Viejo jv in the Dominican Republic which has moved up from 5th place in 2015 as it has now built up to full production.  Freeport’s Grasberg mine, although primarily a copper mining operation drops down from second place to fourth – largely due to interference by political differences between the operating company and the Indonesian government which, some feel may force the American company to divest itself of some, or all, of its stake in this mammoth operation located in one of the most remote regions of the world.

A big expansion at Polyus Gold’s Olimpiada mine in Russia has moved it up from 11th place to 7th while good sized production increases at Australia’s Cadia Valley and Kalgoorlie Super Pit operations have helped Australia confirm its second place among the world’s gold producing nations, despite continuing growth in Russian production which remains in third place.

North America also saw some decent production increases among Barrick and Newmont’s Nevada gold mining operations, helping keep the USA in fifth place while Osisko’s Canadian Malartic remains flying the flag for Canada, which is currently the world’s 7th largest miner but could well jump two places this year, past Peru and South Africa, with Pretium’s high grade Brucejack mine coming on stream within the next month.

What are nowafays the two biggest gold mines in Africa are both operated by Randgold Resources, with the Loulo-Gounkoto operation outperforming Kibali last year with the latter having some technical problems which saw a drop of nearly 2 tonnes in output in 2016.  Both mines are set fair for 2017.  And interestingly Centamin’s Sukari gold mine in Egypt hit the Top 20 for the first time with a big 26% gold output increase.

In Central and South America, Newmont’s Yanacocha gold mine in Peru, which seems to be entering a production run-down phase, after being one of the world’s top 10 gold mines for many years now, dropped from 6th to 15th with a nearly 30% gold output fall.  Barrick's big Veladero mine in Argentina, in 17th place in 2015, dropped out of the Top 20 altogether. Latin America’s other largest gold producers are virtually all primarily copper operations producing gold as a byproduct, and none make the Top 20.

But as the listing shows, at the upper end of the scale there are more mines increasing production than those seeing falls which, to an extent, confirms the premise that peak gold production is not yet with us, although it may be getting very close.

02 Apr 2017

About the author

Lawrence Williams

Lawrence (Lawrie) Williams is a well known London-based writer and commentator on financial and political subjects, but specialising in precious metals news and commentary. He is a qualified and experienced mining engineer having graduated in mining engineering from The Royal School of Mines, a constituent college of Imperial College, London – recently described as the World’s No. 2 University (after MIT).

e: lawrie.williams@sharpspixley.com

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