Aus gold production falls by 5 t q/q

Australian gold production declined by 5 t to 75 t in the quarter ended September 30, Melbourne-based gold mining consultants Surbiton Associates reports.

It notes, however, that while production was 6% lower than that of the quarter ended June 30, it was only 1% lower than that produced in the September 2022 quarter.

Further, this brought the total gold produced in Australia for the nine months ended September 30 to 227 t, valued at about A$23-billion at current prices.

“Australian dollar gold prices averaged A$2 945/oz in the September quarter, just A$10/oz less than in the June quarter. These are high prices and as I have often mentioned, high gold prices allow operators to reduce head grades by blending low-grade stockpiled material with the run-of-mine ore,” says Surbiton Associates director Dr Sandra Close.

She says that choosing to reduce the grade of ore being treated extends the life of the mining operation and allows the maximum amount of gold to be extracted. However, lower treated grade means less gold is produced, so the costs per ounce rise.

“Just because the cost per ounce increases and the number of ounces produced declines, this does not mean that the industry is in trouble. Just using the cost per ounce is not a reliable measure as it fails to take account of varying treatment grades. There are much better performance indicators,” Close comments.

She points out that the Australian dollar gold price hit an all-time record high of A$3 086/oz in October, due to an increase in the US dollar gold price, together with a weakening of the Australian dollar. “This occurred on October 9, following news of the Hamas raid on Israel.”

Surbiton Associates reports that the majority of operations recorded lower gold production for the September quarter. Production at Newcrest’s Cadia mine, in New South Wales decreased by 29 000 oz, while Newmont’s Boddington mine, in West Australia, produced 28 000 oz less quarter-on-quarter. 

The consultants point out that the September quarter figures still report on Newcrest and Newmont’s operations separately, as Newmont’s takeover of Newcrest only became effective in October.

Further, production at Agnico Eagle’s Fosterville mine, in Victoria, decreased by 22 000 oz.

Meanwhile, Northern Star’s Thunderbox mine, in Western Australia, increased its output by 15 000 oz quarter-on-quarter, while the Gruyere mine, owned by Gold Fields and Gold Road Resources and located in Western Australia, increased its output by 12 600 oz. Evolution’s Ernest Henry mine, in Queensland, also increased its output – by 11 000 oz quarter-on-quarter.

“It was good to see that several new operations commenced production in the quarter. Several are smaller but taking advantage of the gold price, often generating cash by using toll treatment of their ore,” Close points out.

Among the operations that recorded their first production is the Jeffrey’s Find operations, in West Australia, owned by Auric Mining and BML Ventures.

In New South Wales, Vertex Minerals produced some gold doré and gold concentrates from its mine at Hill End.

Classic Minerals’ Kat Gap operation in West Australia poured its first bar using gold recovered from its gravity plant, while Bellevue Gold produced the first gold from its new mine in West Australia.

The Plutonic operation in West Australia, previously owned by Superior Gold of Canada, recorded its first full quarter’s production under its new owner Catalyst Metals.

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