Gold mine production edges higher in 2017

Global gold mine production finished 2017 fractionally higher than the previous year, according to the World Gold Council (WGC).

Gold output reached 3268.7 tonnes (t) in 2017, an improvement on the 3263t produced at mines in 2016 and the highest annual total on WGC’s records.

“New mine starts in recent years have mostly served to fill the gap left by production losses elsewhere, which has led to a relative plateauing in global output” WGC reported in its latest Gold Demand Trends report.

Gold mine production did, however, fall by 2 per cent year-on-year to 833.1t in fourth quarter 2017.

In China, the world’s largest producer of gold, output dropped 10 per cent during the December quarter as stricter environmental regulations forced some marginal mines in the country to close.

Several other jurisdictions also saw declines during the fourth quarter, including the United States, Brazil and Mali.

Russia and Indonesia were two regions that delivered production increases. In Indonesia, the mining of higher grade ore at the Grasberg mine — its largest gold operation — helped boost fourth quarter output by 11 per cent.

WGC reported that 2017’s total supply of gold, including net producer hedging and recycled gold, was 4 per cent lower than 2016 at 4398.4t.

Total net de-hedging in 2017 reached 30.4t, according to WGC, bringing an end to three consecutive years of modest net hedging. Several Australian-based companies were influential in driving this result.

In October, Westgold Resources increased in its short-term hedgebook of 40,000 ounces (oz) to lock in higher local prices.

A month later, Gold Road — which is developing the Gruyere gold joint venture in Western Australia — entered into forward agreements that hedged 200,000oz to secure a portion of the mine’s future output.

Also in November, Resolute Mining agreed to hedge 72,000oz of output to fund an expansion of its Ravenswood gold mine.

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