Australia is on track to maintain its position as the world’s second largest gold producer up to the end of 2009, after regaining the ranking in the first half of the year.
According to mining consultant Surbiton Associates, Australia produced 112 tonnes of gold in the first half of 2009, second only to China’s 147 tonnes.
Third and fourth-placed USA and South Africa produced 105 and 103 tonnes respectively, Surbiton said.
According to the company’s director, Dr Sandra Close, the results reflect the considerable changes to the hierarchy of the world’s largest gold producers in recent years.
“Australia was the world’s second largest gold producer behind South Africa in 2005, but it was overtaken by the USA in 2006 and by China in 2007, putting it back to fourth place,” she said.
“But with the continued decline in South African output and lower production in the USA in the first half of 2009, Australia has regained the number two spot.
“Few people seem to realise just how important the gold industry is to Australia.
“Currently, the value of our mine production of gold, at around $7.5 billion, is equal to the combined value of Australia’s exports of wool, wine and dairy products.”
Surbiton reported that Australian gold output totalled 56 tonnes, or 1.8 million ounces in the September quarter 2009.
However, this did not include any gold from the new Boddington mine, which recorded its first production on 20 November.
Newmont Mining’s Boddington mine, located 120 km south-east of Perth, poured its first gold on 30 September and will produce 30 tonnes a year when in full production.
“For some time, Telfer and the Super Pit have each produced around 160,000 to 190,000 ounces a quarter,” Close said.
“However, both operations will be well and truly overtaken when Boddington reaches full production of around 250,000 ounces a quarter.”
The quarter result was one tonne lower than in the previous quarter and about half a tonne less than at the same time in 2008.
“Production has been relatively stable for several quarters now,” Close said.
“It has been a case of steady-as-she-goes.”
Newmont’s Tanami mine and the Super Pit reported output drops in the September quarter of 19,000 and 16,000 ounces respectively.
The East Kundana mine, a joint venture between Barrick, Tribune Resources and Rand Mining, had the biggest increase at 19,000 ounces.
Barrick’s Yilgarn South operations also increased 13,000 ounces for the quarter.
The mines with the highest overall production were Newcrest’s Telfer, Newmont and Barrick’s Super Pit, Newmont’s Jundee, AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam and Gold Fields’ Lefroy.