Australia's gold output in the first six months of 2012, the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal, fell 5 per cent from a year ago on declining ore grades, construction and commissioning delays and slower than expected ramp-ups of output at a number of properties, international metals consultancy GFMS, a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp., said on Wednesday.
Australia produced only 122.5 metric tonnes of gold in the first half of the year, compared from 129.1 metric tonnes last year. GFMS said the culprit was the lower output of Cadia Valley of Newcrest Mining Ltd., after it processed lower-grade stockpiles.
The consultancy agency further reported declines likewise manifested at Australia's two largest gold mines, at the Kalgoorlie Super Pit jointly owned by Newmont Mining Corp. and Barrick Gold Corp., and Newmont's own Boddington mine.
Gold output at Australia's other mines, such as the Wattle Dam operation by Ramelius Resources, also turned in low because the mine is almost nearing the end of its lifespan.
Mining costs in Australia also added pressure to the poor production. From US$756 a year ago, the average cost to churn out a troy ounce of gold in the first half of the year hit US$856.
"General inflationary pressures, a skilled labor shortage and lower output at a number of properties drove costs higher," GFMS said in its report.
Australia is not alone in turning a low gold output, as the London-based researcher noted in its report that more than half of the world's top 10 gold producers reported a fall in gold production. Globally, gold production registered flat at 1,366 metric tonnes.
It was a different scenario meanwhile for Australia's major trading partner, China, which grew its gold production by 7 per cent in the first six months of the year, GFMS said in its report. China's total output of the precious safe haven yellow metal reached 182 metric tonnes for the period.
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