According to the World Gold Council primary gold production hit another record in 2017 after nine years of growth in output, albeit at a much slower pace.
Global gold production totalled roughly 105m troy ounces in 2017. Output is up 525 tonnes or nearly 17m ounces since the start of the decade.
The top 10 listed, non-state owned gold miners are responsible for nearly 30% of global output. The ranks of the top producing companies have stayed remarkably stable, but the next few years will shake-up the industry’s top tier.
Long-time leader Barrick Gold is on course to lose its top-producer status this year. The Toronto-based giant only pipped Newmont in 2017 but when considering the midpoint of its forward guidance, Barrick’s output could slide by more than 10% this year. Barrick’s gold production peaked at 7.7m ounces in 2010 and 2011.
Further down the list there have also been some changes with Kinross Gold overtaking Canadian peer Goldcorp to take fourth spot as the Vancouver company experiences another year of double digit percentage declines in output. Goldcorp, once the world’s most valuable listed gold miner during, is in a rebuilding phase with a stated goal of producing 3–4m ounces per year by 2021.
Polyus managed to overtake South African producer Gold Fields last year and the Russian company is set to climb the ranks further in coming years as its Natalka mine, which went into production last year, lifts overall output closer to 3m ounces. Of the primary gold companies only Polyus and Australia’s Newcrest forecasts higher production this year.
Copper giant Freeport McMoran makes the top 10 for the first time in years displacing Sibanye Stillwater as the Johannesburg-based miner transforms into a platinum producer and sheds its ageing South African mines.
Freeport’s Grasberg mine in Indonesia is hitting higher grades during the transition into an underground operation. Freeport forecasts its attributable output to jump again this year to more than 2m ounces. During its heyday in the early 2000s the iconic mine complex in the remote Papua province hit peak production of 3.5m ounces.
Not on the list is Uzbek company Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Combinat. The state-owned firm’s Muruntau mine is estimated to produce nearly 2m ounces per year although data about operations are not publicly disclosed. Navoi announced just this week that it’s investing billions to expand Muruntau and its other gold operations.
There are a few companies knocking on the door notably Africa-focused Randgold Resources which produced over 1.3 Moz of gold in 2017 followed by St. Petersburg-based Polymetal with nearly 1.1m ounces. Canada’s Yamana Gold expects production to top 1m ounces again this year.