LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Australia’s 2017/2018 Gold Output Near Record
LAWRIE WILLIAMS: Australia’s 2017/2018 Gold Output Near Record from Sharps Pixley
I am indebted to Dr Sandra Close and her Surbiton Associates consultancy for the latest figures on Australia’s 2018 gold output. Surbiton always seems to come up with a higher figure for Australian gold production than the mainstream consultancies, but as an Australian(Melbourne-based) concern which concentrates almost solely on Australian gold and monitors all the country’s gold producers in detail, these figures should not bie ignored.
Australia is the world’s second largest producer of new mined gold, after China and just ahead of Russia. In the 2017-18 financial year (most Australian mining companies have June year ends), Surbiton puts Australia’s annual gold output at 310 tonnes – the highest annual production level since 1997-1998. And production looks still to be growing. Surbiton assesses output in the June quarter at 81 tonnes, an increase of some 6.5 tonnes or 9% on the March 2018 quarter figure and six tonnes, or 8% more than in the three months to June 2017.
“Currently Australian gold production is near record highs,” said Dr Close. “The 2017-18 output is 12 tonnes higher than for 2016-17 and only eight tonnes short of the all- time record in1997-98, while the latest quarterly figure is just 1.5 tonnes lower than the all-time quarterly record. Boddington and Super Pit, both Newmont Mining operations, although Barrick also has a 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit, vied for the top spot for the year, with each producing almost 23 tonnes, or nearly three quarters of a million ounces of gold,” she comments.
“However, despite the buoyant results, gold production may well be lower in the next few quarters,” Dr Close said. “The problems at Super Pit will no doubt have a negative effect, although fortunately the recent problems at Cadia, Australia’s third largest producing gold mine, have now been overcome.”
Even so, at the Super Pit a failure in the northeast wall in mid-May severely curtailed mining operations and ore haulage from the mining areas near the base of the pit. Nevertheless, output at the Super Pit actually increased by 22,000 ounces to 192,000 ounces during the quarter. “Super Pit’s increased production for the June quarter must have come from stockpiled material and perhaps from a reduction of gold in the processing circuit,” Dr Close said. “But I doubt that this can continue.”