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Australia boosts richer ore output to fight weak bullion prices

Published on Mar 2, 2014 10:58 AM

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Output of gold in Australia, the world's No. 2 producer, rose to its highest in a decade in 2013 as richer ores were mined to combat weak bullion prices, a survey released on Sunday showed.

The practice, known as high-grading, caused output to jump by 7 percent, or 18 tonnes, to 273 tonnes last year, worth about US$9 billion (S$11.4 billion) and the highest since mid-2003, according to a tally by Melbourne-based consultant Surbition Associates.

"The 2013 total gold output of 273 tonnes is the highest annual figure since 2003," said Dr Sandra Close, a Surbiton director. "Producers are responding to lower gold prices by treating less low grade material and this results in higher output and reduced costs."

The downside in processing higher-grade ore is that some lower grade ore that was economic to treat at higher prices is no longer profitable, Dr Close said, suggesting output could go down once the richer material is mined out.

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