Global gold production dragged down by Grasberg
Despite frothy gold prices, global mine output declined during the third quarter, according to the World Gold Council’s latest report.
Primary production remained comfortably above the five-year quarterly average of some 852 tonnes, however. On a year-to-date basis production is flat at 2,583 tonnes after a decade of output growth.
Gold output in Mexico saw an 11% increase y-o-y in Q3 after operations resumed at the Peñasquito mine following a blockade by local communities and contractors. Last month the dispute again halted work at the Newmont Goldcorp property amid ongoing negotiations.
Gold production in Australia rose 7% y-o-y, boosted by incremental increases at several mines, while Ghanaian gold production (up 4%) benefitted from scheduled output increases at two Newmont Goldcorp mines – Ahafo and Akyem. Ghana overtook South Africa as the continent’s top gold producer last year.
Russian Q3 mine production was flat y-o-y, but the European nation could add as much as 900,000 ounces in capacity this year alone as several projects in the country – particularly in the Far East region – continue to ramp up.
No 1 producer China saw production fall (-4%) for another quarter as the industry continues to be impacted by the strict environmental regulations introduced in 2017, according to the WGC.
In the US, mine production was marginally weaker (-1%) due to lower scheduled output from several Nevada mines – including Cortez and Goldstrike.
South African gold output (-6%) was impacted by the tail end of industrial action, which hampered production significantly during the first half of the year. Peru’s 12% decline in mine production was a consequence of falling grades due to mine scheduling.
Indonesian output saw the largest y-o-y decline in Q3 – down 41% on the back of a plunge in output at the Grasberg copper-gold mine. The Freeport McMoRan-operated mine is transitioning to underground operations with the depletion of high-grade open pit ore.