The price of gold broke a three-year losing streak in 2016, but the focus of the world’s top gold mining companies in terms of output continued to be on cost-cutting and divestment (with varying degrees of success) which led to a decline in production for most of the sector’s majors.
Preliminary gold production by the top 10 publicly-traded, non state-owned gold mining companies compiled by MINING.com sister company IntelligenceMine totalled 29.46 Moz in 2016. That represents a 4% decrease compared to 2015, but still makes up a significant proportion of overall global production of some 100 million ounces a year. Fewer discoveries, lower grades and difficult economics and regulatory environment in many countries are expected to result in fall in global production in 2017 for the first time in more than a decade.
Most of the companies in the top rankings achieved savings per ounce of gold mine, but all-in costs (AISC – a measure that captures direct operating costs, corporate and exploration expenditure and capital investment required to sustain the business) have stayed stubbornly high for many of the top producers as the positive effects of lower energy costs and currency weakness against the dollar diminishes.
The top 10 list stayed the same compared to 2015, but there are a few companies knocking on the door notably Canada’s Yamana Gold which produced just short of 1.3 Moz of gold in 2016 and is closely followed by Africa-focused Randgold Resources.