Mine production inched to a record high of 3268.7 tonnes, fractionally higher than in 2016 and the highest annual total in WGC records, its Gold Demand Trends Full Year report said.
It said new mines in Canada, Russia and West Africa helped counteract production drops in China and Tanzania.
Stricter environmental controls in China, the world’s largest producer, contributed to an expected 9% decline in production for the year, its second annual drop since 1980, the report said.
Tanzanian production was down 15% year-on-year in the fourth quarter due to the ongoing concentrate export bans which have impacted Acacia Mining’s operations.
The report said the 7% decline in demand was largely investment related, with inflows into gold-backed ETFs about one-third the level of 2016, and total bar and coin demand down 2% due to a sharp drop in US retail investment as US equities climbed.
The WGC said central banks had continued to bolster gold reserves, adding 371.4 tonnes, but this was 5% lower than 2016 figures.
“At a time of heightened geopolitical risk and negative/low real rates, investors continued to focus on gold’s wealth preservation role,” the council said.
Jewellery demand rose 4%, its first increase since 2013, and demand in the technology sector rose 3%, its first year-on-year increase since 2010 due to growth in wireless chips, printed circuit boards and gold bonding wire in memory chips.
Meanwhile recycling activity normalised, down 10% after “unusually high” recycling levels in 2016.