Australia gives China a shot as the world’s largest gold producer, with first place to be won
New figures show Australia is challenging China for the title of the world’s largest gold producer, but experts say it’s too early to tell if Australia will take the top spot.
- China has been the world’s largest gold producer for years
- Australia Produces 74 Tons Of Gold In March Quarter, Closes Gap With China
- Cadia East, New South Wales, is Australia’s largest gold mine for this quarter
According to the China Gold Association, the Asian powerhouse produced 74.44 tons of the precious metal in the March quarter.
Chinese production fell 9 percent from last year, due to the pandemic and tighter environmental regulations.
Australian production of 74 tonnes for the quarter was worth more than $ 5.5 billion at the average price of gold for the three months ending March 31.
Melbourne-based analyst Sandra Close of Surbiton Associates said Australian production was about 5,000 ounces lower than China’s.
“But it is far too early to draw such conclusions.”
China plans to expand SA mine
The new figures were released amid an ongoing trade war and as some Chinese-owned gold mines in Australia aim to either expand or restart operations.
The Chinese and Australian flags fly above the Paddington Gold Operations near Kalgoorlie.
This mine is operated by Norton Gold Fields, which has been 100% owned by the Chinese group Zijin Mining since 2015.
In April last year, Zijin announced a $ 552 million expansion of its Paddington business which processes refractory and low-grade ore sources.
The project was originally scheduled to begin production in July this year, but ABC understands it has experienced delays.
Zijin plans to maintain production levels of around five to six tonnes of gold per year through Paddington once the expansion is complete.
Meanwhile, Focus Minerals – in which China’s Shandong Gold has a 49% stake – has begun the environmental approval process for a potential restart of its Coolgardie operation in WA.
Last year, the company estimated it would cost $ 48 million to restart mining at Coolgardie, which was shut down in 2013 amid a collapse in the price of gold.
Among the deposits Focus hopes to mine is an area known as Brilliant, near the southeastern edge of the Coolgardie townsite, which the company says will require detailed planning to manage potential environmental and social impacts.
Super Pit climbs up the rankings
According to Surbiton’s analysis, Newcrest’s Cadia East mine in New South Wales was Australia’s largest gold mining operation, at 179,546 ounces in the March quarter.
The Boddington mine, owned by Newmont, Wash. (152,000 ounces) and Tanami’s operations in the Northern Territory (117,000 ounces) round out the top three in the country.
Kalgoorlie’s Super Pit, which has been running since 1989, was the big driver, up to fourth place, at 111,278 ounces as its new Australian owners look to ramp up production.
Super Pit had a life of less than seven years as a surface mine before Northern Star Resources and Saracen Mineral Holdings of Perth bought the mine for a combined $ 2.2 billion.
The companies – which merged in a $ 16 billion deal earlier this year – have now embarked on a major exploration campaign and have already discovered new deposits that could extend the life of the mine to at least until ‘to 2035.
Dr Sandra Close said the Super Pit was showing signs of recovery after heavy rockfall in 2018.
“In the worst times, he fell below the top five,” said Dr Close.
New life on Golden Mile
The Super Pit’s new strategy includes returning the Golden Mile underground for the first time in 30 years, with the creation of two new underground portals inside the mine.
Northern Star chief executive Stuart Tonkin said the portals on the west wall of the Super Pit would be used to establish underground drilling platforms.
Mr Tonkin said drilling has already confirmed the existence of high-grade gold beneath the historic deepest workings of the Golden Mile, which extend about 1,400 meters below the surface.
As Mr. Beament told analysts and the media during a site visit last week, “We didn’t buy this asset for this big hole … we bought it for the underground potential. ”