China kicks South Africa off gold top spot

Jan 17 2008 09:36 PM
Brendan Ryan (News24)

Johannesburg - China became the world's largest gold producer in 2007, overtaking South Africa, as total world gold production dropped 1% to 2 444 tonnes.

Chinese gold production rose from 247t in 2006 to an estimated 276t last year, according to the second update of the Gold Survey 2007 report by UK precious metals consultancy GFMS.

Over the same period, South African gold production fell from 296t in 2006 to 272t in 2007.

Chinese production has risen thanks to growing foreign investment in the country?s mining industry as well as a surge in output from the large number of very small-scale miners that had the flexibility to expand output.

South African gold production declined because of cost pressures on the operations plus the impact of the government?s stricter approach to safety, which has seen shafts temporarily shut down after fatal accidents.

According to the GFMS report, gold companies generally were hit by an increasingly difficult operating environment last year, where competition for consumables, labour and key plant items hampered projects and operations worldwide.

The report adds South Africa and Peru were the countries worst affected, while the US and Canada also suffered declines in output.

In addition to China, higher mine output was seen in Indonesia, Brazil and Ghana, with Australian production remaining relatively stable.

- Fin24

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