Gold production to achieve global record in 2019

The Gruyere site. Image: Gold Road Resources.

Global gold output is expected to grow to a record 109.6 million ounces by the end of 2019, according to S&P Global data.

The increase from 2018 to 2019 is anticipated to be 2.3 million ounces, the company found, representing the largest growth in the past three years. Gold production reached 107.3 million ounces worldwide in 2018, capping off a decade of consecutive growth.

S&P Global stated that more than half of the 2.3 million ounce increase will come from new operations in 2019, with the Gruyere joint venture project in the Yamarna Belt, Western Australia being listed as the largest Australian new start contributing to this figure.

The Gruyere project was also in second place on the list of the five largest new gold projects, just behind Agnico Eagle Mines’ Meliadine project in Canada.

Gruyere, which is split evenly between Gold Fields and Gold Road Resources, is on track for a June quarter start. The companies produced an updated mine plan for the project in December 2018 that estimated an average annual production of 300,000 ounces a year over the project’s 12-year mine life.

S&P Global’s report is consistent with a similar report from Surbiton Associates in March 2019 that found Australia broke a 21-year-old record for gold production last year after producing 317 tonnes. Newcrest Mining’s Cadia operation in New South Wales led the pack at nearly 752,000 ounces.

The record forecast for production is not expected to last forever, however, as depletion from operations will outpace growth as early as 2021, according to the S&P Global report. This will contribute to an expected fall in gold production of over three million ounces in 2023 and five million ounces in 2024.

This is particularly evident in Australia, where gold production will be hit hardest among major producing countries, falling from its current second place position (behind China) to fourth place by 2024, when it is expected to be overtaken by Canada and Russia.

“The underlying reason for Australia’s fall is the depletion of several long-lived assets such as St Ives, Paddington, Telfer, Edna May, Southern Cross, Agnew/Lawlers and more,” the report said.

“The expected commissioning of Mt Todd and reactivation of Union Reefs Operations Centre will partly mitigate the loss from those aforementioned closures.”

S&P Global has estimated a subsequent gold production figure of 102.4 million tonnes in 2024.

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