In 2015, preliminary estimated gold production by the top publicly-traded and non state-owned gold mining companies amounted to 30.78 Moz, a 1% increase compared to 2014 totals (30.39 Moz).
Five out of the 10 miners suffered a decline in their attributable gold output while another five of them achieved growth.
With 6.12 Moz of gold produced in 2015, Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. (TSE:ABX) holds first place in global ranking, well ahead of its competitors.
Compared to 2014’s 6.25 Moz, Barrick’s gold output declined by 2%, mainly because of significant drop in output at its South America’s Pueblo Viejo (-14%), Lagunas Norte (-4%) and Veladero (-17%) operations, which was mostly offset with strong results at Barrick’s mines in the United States. Barrick was managed to reduce its all-in sustaining costs* (AISC) by 4%, from $864 in 2014 to $831 in 2015.
The US-based Newmont Mining Corporation (NYSE:NEM) ranks second in the global gold competition and produced 5.04 Moz of the precious metal in 2015, 4% more than in 2014 (4.85 Moz). This growth was mainly due to a nearly nine-fold increase of Newmont’s attributable gold output at Batu Hijau mine (Indonesia), from 37 Koz in 2014 to 328 Koz in 2015. Newmont reduced AISC by 10%, from $1,002 in 2014 to $898 in 2015. According to some forecasts, Newmont could overtake Barrick as top gold miner in 2016.
Third-ranked AngloGold Ashanti Limited (NYSE:AU), reported 11% decrease in annual production, from 4.44 Moz of gold in 2014 to 3.95 Moz in 2015. Despite a decline in production, AngloGold reduced AISC by 11%, from $1,020 in 2014 to $910 in 2015.
Fourth-ranked Goldcorp Inc. (TSE:G) produced 3.46 Moz of gold in 2015, or 21% more than in 2014 (2.87 Moz). This stunning increase was due to development of production at recently commissioned Cerro Negro (Argentina) and Eleonore (Canada) mines. Goldcorp reduced AISC by 6%, from $949 in 2014 to $894 in 2015.
Another Canadian company Kinross Gold Corporation (TSE:K), fifth in world gold production rankings, produced 2.59 Moz of gold equivalent in 2015. This volume was at the high end of the company’s 2015 guidance range and is 4% lower than 2014 production totals (2.71 Moz of gold equivalent). The 4% decrease in full-year production was mainly due to lower production at Paracatu (Brazil), Tasiast (Mauritania), Maricunga (Chile) and Chirano (Ghana) mines, partially offset by higher production at Fort Knox, Round Mountain (both – USA) and Kupol (Russia) mines. Kinross’s AISC in 2015 was in line with 2014 level and amounted to $975.
Sixth in the ratings, Australian Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM), produced 2.49 Moz of gold in 2015 calendar year, which is 7% higher than 2014 output (2.33 Moz). Newcrest managed to reduce AISC by 11%, from $854 in 2014 to approximately $762 in 2015.
South African Gold Fields Limited (NYSE:GFI), currently ranked seventh, produced 2.16 Moz of gold equivalent in 2015, or 3% lower than in 2014 (2.22 Moz). The company’s Damang mine (Ghana) had another challenging year with production and costs deteriorating quarter on quarter. Despite drawbacks at Damang, Gold Fields reduced its AISC by 4%, from $1,053 in 2014 to $1,007 in 2015.
In eighth place, Russian origin Polyus Gold International (LON: PGIL) produced 1.76 Moz of gold, a 4% increase from its 2014 tally of 1.70 Moz. According to preliminary estimations made ahead of the company’s financial data set to release in the beginning of March, Polyus Gold is likely has reduced its AISC in the range of 25-30%, mainly due to the significant Russian currency devaluation to the US dollar.
Canadian Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd (TSE:AEM) gold output jumped by 17%, from 1.43 Moz in 2014, to 1.67 Moz in 2015. This allows Agnico Eagle to jump one position up in the world rankings, from tenth to ninth. For the fourth consecutive year, Agnico Eagle has reported annual gold production in excess of annual guidance. Agnico Eagle’s AISC on a by-product basis was $810 in 2015 or 15% lower than AISC in 2014 ($954).
South Africa’s Sibanye Gold Limited (JSE: SGL & NYSE: SBGL), which split from Gold Fields in February 2013, lost its ninth position and closing the list of top-10 gold producers in 2015. Sibanye produced 1.54 Moz of gold, or 3% less than in 2014 (1.59 Moz), mainly because of operational disruptions at its Witwatersrand mines. Sibanye was managed to reduce AISC by 5%, from $1,080 in 2014 to $1,030 in 2015. Nine out of ten companies managed to reduce their AISC in 2015. Polyus Gold keeps its record as the lowest cost gold producer among majors.
** AISC’s rough approximation. Polyus Gold to release its final AISC calculation at the beginning of March.
*All-in sustaining cost is a measure that captures direct operating costs, corporate and exploration expenditure and capital investment required to sustain the business.
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