Australia has surpassed China as the largest gold producer for the first half of the year due to higher output from the country’s major miners, according to Surbiton Associates.
The US Geological Survey has listed China as the world’s largest gold producer since 2007, with Australia remaining the second largest producer.
In the six months to June 2021, Australia produced 157 tonnes of gold, which was four tonnes higher than the China during the same period.
Surbiton Associates director Sandra Close said reports from China found that gold output was impacted by work accidents that caused shutdowns during investigations.
“Australia’s gold production was 321 tonnes for the financial year 2020/21 and this is worth around $26 billion at the current gold price of some $2500 per ounce,” Close said.
“Gold has certainly made a sizeable contribution to the economy in what has been a most challenging COVID year.”
However, Australia’s results for the 2020-21 financial year, dropped seven tonnes compared to the previous financial year record high of 328 tonnes.
Gold production was trending upwards in the June quarter, increasing by 12 per cent to 83 tonnes from 74 tonnes in the March quarter.
Close said existing and new operations across Australia upped the gold output in June.
This included Kirkland Lake’s Fosterville mine in Victoria, producing 49,000 ounces in the June quarter after grades increased to almost 30 grams per tonne – still a far cry from the 40 to 50 grams per tonne grades recorded in mid-2019 to mid-2020.
New operations including Capricorn Resources’ Karlawinda project in Western Australia also came online in the June quarter as it ramps up to its 100,000-ounce annual production rate.
Close said the gold price is also remaining encouraging which has increased exploration expenditure.
“It is interesting to look at the amount of money now being spent on gold exploration as a proportion of total mineral exploration expenditure,” Close said.
“In 2001 gold exploration comprised around 55 per cent of total mineral exploration expenditure. It fell to only 20 per cent between 2008 and 2014, but has recovered now to around 50 per cent.”
Australia’s highest producing gold mine for the 2020-21 financial year was Newcrest Mining’s Cadia East operation in New South Wales, which produced 764,895 ounces.