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.