Australian gold output down

A new report has found Australia’s gold output has fallen by nearly five tonnes in the September quarter.

The report released by Melbourne-based gold mining consultants, Surbiton Associates Pty Ltd said the September quarter gold output totalled 62 tonnes, down almost five tonnes from last year’s period.

Dr Sandra Close, a director of Surbiton Associates said the fall in production was disappointing.

“The fall in production was disappointing, given the new operations that have just come on stream,” she said.

“Many of the larger gold mines, mostly in Western Australia, had technical issues which reduced their gold output. Hopefully this situation will be short-lived.”

According to the report, Gold production at Newmont/Barrick’s Super Pit in Kalgoorlie declined by 42,000 ounces due to lower ore grade and a reduction in the amount of ore treated.

“Super Pit’s production for the quarter was down substantially and is the lowest in four and a half years.”

However, gold production rose at two of Barrick’s other operations.

At Cowal in New South Wales, output was up by 23,000 ounces, while at Kanowna Belle, near Kalgoorlie, production rose 21,000oz.

Output at Newcrest’s Telfer operation in the Great Sandy Desert also saw a decline of 21,000 ounces while at St Barbara’s Gwalia mine near Leonora, output was down 20,000 ounces.

However, Close said that with a number of new operations coming on board by the end of the year, output should increase.

“The biggest new entrant was Regis Resources’ Garden Well operation, north of Laverton which produced 17,000 ounces of gold in less than a month, following its first gold pour in early September,” Dr Close said. “Also, Kentor Gold’s mine in the Murchison district in WA produced its first gold in mid-August and Millennium Minerals’ new plant at Nullagine in WA, poured its first gold at the end of September,” she explained.

Newcrest’s Cadia East Mine should also reach production before the end of the year, as well as Resource Base’s small Broula King operation.

Close highlighted the interest of overseas investors in the Australian gold industry, where overseas control currently stands at about 60 percent and eight out of ten of the largest operations are controlled by overseas companies.

“Overseas interest in our mining and agricultural industries remains high and local investors seem only too willing to sell,” Close said.

“We need to determine why foreign investors put a higher value on our natural resources than do Australian shareholders.”

“Many of Australia’s long-term assets are already in foreign hands,” Close said.

“We need to strike a balance between local and overseas ownership, otherwise we are in danger of becoming tenants in our own land.”

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