Australian gold production steady as Cadia output rises

Australian gold production has dipped slightly in the September 2017 quarter as several leading mines registered lower output.

Gold production for the September quarter of this year was 74.1 tonnes, or 1.4 per cent less than the June quarter, according to gold experts Surbiton Associates.

The Super Pit in Kalgoorlie (down 24,000 ounces), Kirkland Lake Gold’s Fosterville mine in Victoria (-15,000 ounces) and Newmont Mining’s Boddington operation (-15,000 ounces) in Western Australia all recorded falls in output compared to the previous three-month period.

BHP’s multi-commodity Olympic Dam mine, which produces gold as a by-product, also declined by 15,000 ounces.

There were, however, several operations that delivered higher output during the quarter, including Newcrest Mining’s Cadia East mine, which produced 80,000 more ounces than the June quarter, as production recovered from damage caused by a seismic event in April.

Newmont’s Tanami operation in the Northern Territory produced an extra 16,000 ounces, while output at AngloGold Ashanti’s Sunrise Dam mine increased by almost 13,000 ounces.

Surbiton director Sandra Close described the September quarter performance in the gold industry as the “usual case of swings of and roundabouts”.

“Notwithstanding the ups and downs of individual operations, gold output in Australia remains relatively steady, taking into account all operations producing gold,” she said.

Close said the WA Government’s repeated attempts to impose a 50 per cent increase in the gold royalty rate showed that there seemed to be little understanding of the effects of cost rises.

“I am all in favour of a fair return to the community for the minerals they own,” Close said. “But it makes little sense to increase the royalty so that the economic cut-off grade rises and gold is left in the ground that was previously economic to mine.”

WA mines produce around three quarters of Australia’s gold.

Australia’s largest producing mines in the September quarter were:
Boddington (Newmont): 197,000 ounces
Super Pit (KCGM): 170,000 ounces
Cadia Valley (Newcrest): 120,514 ounces
Tropicana (Anglo Gold Ashanti / Independence Group): 116,087 ounces
Tanami (Newmont): 114,000 ounces