Cadia East bounces back as Australia’s top gold producer

Cadia Valley in NSW. Image: Newcrest Mining

Newcrest Mining’s Cadia East operation in New South Wales has taken top spot as Australia’s largest gold producer in the September quarter as it edged closer to a full recovery from the tailings dam wall collapse in March.

Cadia East produced 213,514 ounces (oz) gold during the quarter – up 57,500oz on the June quarter.

This suggested a quick recovery from the production halt that followed an embankment slump at Cadia’s Northern Tailings Facility on March 9.

Meanwhile at the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, investigations were still ongoing on how to remediate its wall collapse, causing it to slide to third spot in the September quarter with 150,000oz.

Predicting gold production has many difficulties and uncertainties, and “no one knows what the future holds,” Surbiton Associates director Sandra Close said in response to the September quarter findings.

Surbiton Associates analysis showed that if gold production for 2018 continued at current levels in the December quarter, it would remain at a near record level.

Australian gold production was only a few thousand ounces shy of the previous quarter, totalling 81 tonnes during the third quarter of 2018.

The country’s gold output of more than 300 tonnes a year compares with China, the world’s largest producer with around 440 tonnes output last year.

It places Australia well ahead of South Africa, which is now ranked seventh in the world with 145 tonnes of gold produced last year.

Close attributed the steady output to relatively stable Australian gold prices, improved output from existing operations and junior companies selling ore from their small gold deposits to the larger companies for toll treatment.

“Many treatment plants are running at close to, or above capacity. Certainly we might lose some production due to mine closures in the next few years, but there are other big and small projects coming along that should enable Australian gold output to be maintained and perhaps increased,” Close said.

“We saw Gold Fields’ Granny Smith wine in Western Australia increase output by 26,500oz following a low result in the previous quarter. Also, Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville operation in Victoria continues to increase quarterly production following the discovery of unusually rich ore.”

In early September this year, “extraordinary” gold specimens were also unearthed at RNC Minerals’ Beta Hunt nickel and gold mine near Kambalda in Western Australia.

“They are a unique part of our heritage and a real reminder how much gold has contributed to our country, by way of its settlement and its physical and social history,” Close said.

“We may have been a very different country were it not for gold – yet so few seem to know about its role in our history and heritage.”

Australia’s largest gold producers for the September 2018 quarter were:

  1. Cadia East (Newcrest Mining) – 213,514oz
  2. Boddington (Newmont Mining) – 187,000oz
  3. Super Pit JV (Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold, 50:50 JV) – 150,000oz
  4. Tropicana (AngloGold and Independence Group, 70:30 JV) – 125,100oz
  5. Tanami (Newmont Mining) – 123,000oz