Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone

AUSTRALIAN gold producers took advantage of the peak in the gold price to have a record year in 2020.
Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone Aussie gold producers made hay while the sun shone

Staff reporter

According to Surbiton Associates, Australia's gold production reached a record 327 tonnes in 2020, about 1.5t more than 2019.

While it was a record for any calendar year, 2020's production was down slightly on that of the 12 months to June 30, 2020.

"The 327 tonnes of gold (approximately 10.5 million ounces) produced in 2020 was worth A$27 billion, based on the average daily Australian dollar gold price," Surbiton director Dr Sandra Close said.

"Australia is the world's second-largest gold producer and most of the gold is exported."

Newcrest Mining's Cadia operation in New South Wales remained the country's largest producer with 2020 output of 822,478 ounces, while Newmont Corporation's Boddington in Western Australia remained in second place with 670,000oz of production.

However, both mines produced less than the 871,246oz and 703,000oz, respectively, produced in 2019.

Kirkland Lake Gold's Fosterville mine in Victoria remained in third, with output up about 20,000oz to a record 640,000oz. The mine is almost certainly set to fall out of the top five in 2021 due to declining grade.

Newmont's Tanami in the Northern Territory was up one spot with production of 495,000oz.

Northern Star Resources' Super Pit jumped into fifth spot with output of 453,194oz, displacing AngloGold Ashanti and IGO's Tropicana mine.

Close described Northern Star and Saracen's acquisitions of the Super Pit from Newmont and Barrick Gold, respectively, as the "deal of the year".

"The sale of Super Pit resolved some operational uncertainties and transferred the mine and treatment plant from overseas to local control," she said.

"However, recent subsequent changes mean that the Super Pit, and indeed the original Golden Mile itself, is now held by a single owner for the first time since the field was discovered in 1893."

The gold price hit an all-time high of US$2067 an ounce or A$2868/oz in August.

Gold is currently trading at US$1737/oz or A$2247/oz, the lowest level since June.

"When it comes to a speculative market with plenty of action, at the moment Bitcoin is obviously the greatest game in town," Close said.

"I cannot predict the future but it is likely gold will still be seen as a safe store of value, as it is tangible and you can hold in your hand."

The Australian government's Office of the Chief Economist expects Australia to overtake China this year to become the world's largest gold producer.

Ora Banda Mining's recommissioned Davyhurst operation and Novo Resources Corp's Beatons Creek operations, both in Western Australia, recently achieved first production.

Red River Resources Hillgrove gold-antimony mine in New South Wales achieved its first gold pour over the weekend.

Capricorn Metals' Karlawinda mine in WA will achieve first production in the coming months.