Australian gold production declined 4% last year to 256 tonnes or 8.2 million ounces in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to Surbiton Associates Pty’s Australian Gold Quarterly Review.
The country’s largest gold producers for 2012 were Newmont Mining’s Boddington at 724,000 ounces, Newmont and Barrick’s Super Pit Joint Venture at 654,000 ounces, Newcrest Mining’s Telfer at 507,168 ounces, Gold Fields’ St. Ives at 449,842 ounces, and Newmont’s Jundee at 333,000 ounces.
“Several producers had to deal with short-term technical issues during the year, which reduced overall output,” said Dr. Sandra Close, a Surbiton Associates director. “Despite this, total gold produced in 2012 was worth more than A$13 billion at current prices, making the gold sector a significant export earner.”
“At last, we are seeing the effects of some new mines coming on-stream,” Close noted. “As well there were better performances from several established operations.”
December quarter 2012 production totaled some 67 tonnes, an 8% increase over the September quarter, and 1% higher than the 2011 December quarter. “At last we are seeing the effects of some new mines coming on-stream,” Close said. “As well, there were better performances from several established operations.”
Several of the large Western Australian producers increased their output during the December quarter. Boddington was up 50,000 ounces, the Super Pit was up 34,000 ounces and Telfer increased by 20,000 ounces.
Boddington was the largest producer for the December 2012 quarter and the largest Australian operation for the full year 2012, Close noted.
However, she observed, it will be interesting to see if higher production is maintained in the March quarter 2013 as output is lower due to the March quarter having fewer days all-up and also the fact the high rainfall of the cyclone season has an adverse impact on many mining operations.
Close said several smaller operations in the Kalgoorlie area are selling ore to, or having it tool treated by, larger companies that have existing treatment facilities. This permits the smaller companies to avoid the cost and time delay of building and operating their own treatment plants.
“While there is considerable activity and new and recycled operations are coming on-stream, taking advantage of a prolonged period of higher gold prices, it should also be noted that several operations are doing it tough, as all mines have a finite life,” said Close.
“…Given the importance of the mineral industry to the Australian economy, ongoing exploration needs to be encouraged to ensure the industry’s long-term sustainability,” she advised. “It is essential to find new resources and reserves to replace those that are mined out.”
Close noted that there is an increasing concern about the availability of information regarding some Australian operations, both for gold and for other metals and commodities.
“Where a publicly-listed mining or exploration company is taken over by a foreign government-owned or private corporation, there are no requirements for that organization publicly to report its operational performance, exploration results, reserves and resources or its profitability,” Close observed. “Once taken over and privatized, it simply disappears from view and is completely off the record.”
She advocated that overseas companies be required periodically to report what they are doing, what they are producing and their profits.
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