The array of reports on gold which are currently being produced – this is the season for them – all come up with an interesting array of statistics and the latest from Metals Focus – Gold Focus 2015 – is no exception. While there is much to absorb from the Metals Focus report – including confirmation that China is still the world’s top gold consumer, not India as the World Gold Council’s Gold Demand trends seems to have suggested – this article is just being restricted to Metals Focus’ tabulations of the world’s largest gold producers – by mine, by mining company and by country. All are statistics which any gold follower will find valuable, as will those having to write their own reports and analyses on matters gold. We will also be publishing a separate article which will look at other aspects of the Metals Focus analysis and its forward price predictions (for the record the consultancy sees the gold price perhaps falling back a little by Q3 this year, but then picking up in Q4 to average over $1,200 with the suggestion that this will represent the ending of gold’s bear market.)
World’s Top 20 Operating Mines by 2014 production (tonnes Au)
|3.||Pueblo Viejo*||Dominican Rep.||Barrick||34.5|
|12.||Lihir||Papua New Guinea||Newcrest||21.3|
|13.||Kalgoorlie Super Pit||Australia||Barrick/Newmont||20.3|
|15.||Oyu Tolgoi*||Mongolia||Turquoise Hill (Rio)||18.3|
Source: Metals Focus
For the purposes of the table we have just included the major shareholder as the operator. Many of the above has substantial minority involvement, often from the governments of the countries in which the mine is located, and in other cases from other companies. Those that are not 100% owned by the operator we have marked with a *.
Mines which have moved up substantially in the table compared with 2013 include a number which had started up a year earlier, or had initiated major expansion programmes and were building up to full production in 2014. These included Pueblo Viejo (up 36%), Kupol (up 43%), Oyu Tolgoi (up 275%) and Penasquito (up 41%) significant newcomers which fell just outside the Top 20 in 2014, included the Randgold/AngloGold/Sokimo owned Kibali in the DRC (operated by the former), which came in in 24th place with output of 16.4 tonnes, AngloGold’s Tropicana mine in Western Australia in 27th place with 15.9 tonnes and Newmont’s Aykem mine in Ghana with 14.7 tonnes in 29th place.
Interestingly the world’s second biggest gold producer for at least the past two years, Grasberg, is primarily a copper mine and gold is a VERY substantial byproduct!
Top 20 Mining Companies by tonnes of attributable gold production
|3.||AngolGold Ashanti||South Africa||138.0|
|7.||Gold Fields||South Africa||69.0|
|12.||China Nat. Gold||China||40.2|
Source: Metals Focus, Mineweb
On the mining company front, efforts to cut costs and divest, or close, some of the poorer performing operations did lead to some significant production falls amongst the world’s two biggest gold producing companies. Top gold producer, Barrick Gold, for example saw output fall 13% compared with a year earlier, while Newmont saw a fall of 4%. However most of the other top miners managed production increases as new projects and expansions came to fruition, more than offsetting divestments and closures.
In terms of rankings the top 10 miners all retained their places, but there were some changes down the list with Agnico Eagle leapfrogging China National gold and Freeport into 11th spot, primarilky due to the consolidation of Osisko production into its figures. Further down the list Randgold moved up 5 places due to its big new Kibali mine in the DRC, while Glencore and Zijin slipped down below NordGold which is now probably about to join the million ounce/year club (31.1 tonnes).
Metals Focus estimated that global gold output rose by 2.4% last year and sees it as probably having peaked, contrary to the recent CPM projection which sees global gold output continuing to rise for another year. But on a country by country basis, there was no change in the rankings of the world’s top nine gold producing nations, but Brazil moved into tenth place at the expense of Indonesia – see table below.
Top 20 Gold Producing Nations (tonnes) – 2014
|13.||Papua New Guinea||67.5||67.2||0%|
|Rest Of World||520.9||547.7||+5%|
Source: Metals Focus
However two of the Top 10 are in danger of being overtaken – Australia in second place is being run very close by Russia in third place, which has been seeing a big spurt in output. And South Africa, which used to dominate global gold production, is continuing to see output fall as its elderly mines get too deep to work profitably and ore grades fall. It is now being challenged for sixth place by Canada which saw production rise by 21% year on year. Further down the table, Argentina which managed a 17% production increase, moved ahead of Africa’s third largest producer, Tanzania and almost as impressive was Kazakhstan, where a 16% rise in gold output moved it up three places to 16th, ahead of Mali, Chile and Colombia, all of which saw production falls.
Interestingly, but perhaps not coincidentally, two of the biggest gainers in 2014 in terms of gold mine output increases – Russia and Kazakhstan – were also the two nations whose Central Banks were also the largest purchasers of gold last year.
The Metals Focus Gold Focus 2015 yearbook which runs to 88 A4 pages of analysis and comment , supported by numerous graphs and tables is available for purchase.