Australia welcomes top March quarter of gold production in over two decades

Australia has experienced its highest March quarter of gold production since 1998, according to Melbourne-based gold mining consultants, Surbiton Associates.

Gold output for the first three months of 2019 equalled 78 tonnes, which was three tonnes or four per cent less than the last quarter of 2018.

“The March quarter almost invariably sees the lowest gold output as it is only 90 days long, compared with 91 days in the June quarter and 92 days in September and December quarters,” Surbiton director Sandra Close said.

“Every day makes a difference, since Australia’s current production of around 320 tonnes of gold a year, is nearly nine-tenths of a tonne of gold a day.”

Australia stands as the world’s second largest gold producer after China, with annual output equating to almost $19 billion at current gold prices around $1850 per ounce.

“For some years now we have seen local gold production rising, many producers have been taking advantage of the Australian dollar gold price over that period, as it has continued an upward trend, despite the usual volatility,” Close said.

In response to recent speculation that Australian mines were running out of gold, Close commented that such claims were “rather fanciful”.

“There are many factors that affect ore reserves and therefore the life of each mine, I cannot predict the future but at the moment there do not appear to be major causes for concern on the horizon,” she said.

Fluctuations in gold prices and exchange rates alongside changes in costs and exploration in mining and processing are all factors that affect the economics and longevity of mining operation, according to Close.

“It should be remembered that Australia is a land of generally small and medium-sized gold mines and large multi-million ounce discoveries are quite rare, just because such large deposits are seldom discovered locally, it does not mean that total Australian gold production is about to fall in a heap,” she said.

Close’s optimism follows a United States Geological Survey which revealed Australia has the largest reserves of gold of any country with 9800 tonnes, or enough for 31 years of production at current rates.

In the last quarter, Australian producers who recorded higher gold output included Gold Fields’ St Ives, WA operation, up 15,000 ounces; Newcrest’s Telfer, up 15,000 ounces and BHP’s Olympic Dam mine, where production rose by 11,000 ounces.

Australia’s largest gold producers for the March 2019 quarter were:

Operation         Ounces            Owner
Cadia East         218,819           Newcrest Mining
Boddington     155,000           Newmont Goldcorp
Tanami              131,000           Newmont Goldcorp
Fosterville        128,445           Kirkland Lake Gold
Tropicana         123,236           AngloGold 70%, Independence Group 30%

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