Australian gold production in Western Australia and Queensland has been interrupted by wet weather in the early months of 2018.
Output for the March quarter reached 74t, equal to the same period a year earlier, but a 7 per cent fall on the December 2017 quarter.
Surbiton Associates director Sandra Close said the three-month output was a “reasonable performance” given that production in the December quarter was particularly high at 80t.
“This was an outstanding result, however, as anticipated, the figures for the latest quarter are down, as the usual wet weather early in the year in Western Australia and north Queensland caused production cuts at several mines,” Dr Close said.
Output was also affected during the March quarter because the three-month period was two days shorter than the December quarter, Dr Close added.
“Just a handful of the largest operations accounted for some 4t less gold production in the March quarter,” Dr Close said.
“When wet conditions cause mining and haulage problems, operators have to draw from low grade stockpiles to maintain mill throughput.”
AngloGold and Independence Group’s Tropicana joint venture produced 34,000oz less; Newcrest Mining’s Telfer operation was 33,000oz lower; Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold’s Super Pit JV in Kalgoorlie dropped 28,000oz; and output from Newmont’s Boddington and Tanami operations fell by a combined 30,000oz.
Newcrest’s Cadia mine in New South Wales, which was disrupted by a tailings dam breach during March, was 37,000oz lower for the quarter.
Dr Close said there were a small number of mines that reported higher output during the March quarter.
“AngloGold’s Sunrise Dam operation increased output by about 20,000oz mainly due to higher recovered ore grade from underground, while both BHP’s Olympic Dam and Silver Lake’s Mt Monger operations each produced 13,000oz more,” Dr Close said.