According to a new report from Sydney-based AME Mineral Economics, last year’s total mined output of gold was the lowest since 1997, and the first time since 1995 that annual gold production has fallen. However, the trend is set to reverse as the changing cost environment and rising prices take effect.
The last two years has seen some major changes in production and cost rankings, says the report, right across the gold company league table, largely resulting from industry consolidation. South African-based AngloGold no longer heads the output list as the world’s largest gold producing company.
Newmont took the top spot for the first time in 2002, producing 7.6 million ounces, ahead of AngloGold (5.9Moz) and Barrick (5.7Moz).
However, AngloGold is the lowest-cost producer, a title it has taken from Barrick. At national levels, the United States is no longer the lowest-cost producer among the four major gold-producing countries. In recent years, Canada, Australia and South Africa have all seen their currencies decline against the strong US dollar, and these devaluations have been closely matched by falls in their US dollar-denominated cash costs
Geographical patterns of gold production have been changing too. In 1990, only 25% of western world gold was mined outside the four major producing nations. By the end of last year, this figure had risen to 45%. The principal countries contributing to this redistribution include Indonesia, Peru, Ghana and Papua New Guinea. Since 1997, impressive increases in output have also been recorded by Mali, Argentina and Tanzania, where costs are typically below the global average.