Precious metals consultancy Metals Focus said total cash costs globally averaged $US632 an ounce in the March quarter, 7% lower than the same time in 2015.
Margins jumped 16% to $551/oz due to a 7% quarter-on-quarter rise in the gold price.
Metals Focus noted that Oceania total costs dropped 13% year-on-year and 4% quarter-on-quarter “as the continent continues its transition from one of the highest regions globally, to one of the lowest”.
Earlier this week, Regis Resources executive chairman Mark Clark acknowledged the “catastrophic blowout” in cost control in the gold sector and said the industry had been “late to the party” on rectifying the situation.
He said the Australian producers had seen good tailwinds in terms of cost control, with diesel, reagents and contract costs coming down, while the Australian dollar had depreciated.
Global all-in sustaining costs for the first quarter dropped 8% year-on-year to $846/oz.
Sustaining capital fell 21% quarter-on-quarter to $135/oz, 62% below its peak in the third quarter of 2012.
AISC margins jumped 33% quarter-on-quarter and 12% year-on-year to $337/oz after hitting a low of $252/oz in the December quarter.
Given the rise in the gold price this year, Metals Focus estimates less than 5% of producers are now generating a loss, compared to 15% in the December quarter.
“This highlights that a relatively small increase of $78/oz in the gold price for Q1 2016 has had a large impact on the volume of profitable production globally,” Metals Focus said.
The Australian dollar gold price averaged $A1635/oz in the March quarter, and has averaged nearly $1680/oz so far this quarter, meaning local producers are set for better margins if costs remained under control.
The price has risen to over $1750/oz several times this year (including this week), not far off its all-time high of just over $1800/oz reached in 2011.
Leading mid-tier gold producers Evolution Mining and Northern Star Resources hit all-time highs in trading yesterday, as did developer Dacian Gold.