China's gold output could fall 40 tonnes this year

China Daily reports official ministry figures for the first five months of 2012 show China’s gold output for the period rose 6.6% year on year to 140.7 tonnes.

Gold production in the country – the world's top miner of the metal – appears to be slowing. Gold production growth reported at the end of the first quarter  was put at 10% .

China's gold mining industry is highly fragmented.  The  nation's top 10 gold companies produced less than half of the total for the country. The larger producers also only managed to increase output by less than 1% from January to end May.

China produced 380 tonnes of gold during 2011, over a 100 tonnes more than its nearest rival, according to data from  London-based mining and metals consultants CRU.

Annualized official Chinese figures suggest this year the country's gold miners would only produce some 337 tonnes which would be less than the country's annual output in 2010 of 341 tonnes.

South Africa, now behind the US and Australia, ranked number one for gold in the world for a century before losing the top spot to China in 2007.  At its peak in the late 1960s the gold fields of the African nation produced more than a 1,000 tonnes of the yellow metal per year.