10 Top Gold-producing Countries

The USGS has released its 2016 report on gold, and Gold Investing News took the opportunity to read up on the top gold-producing countries of 2015.

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In 2015, global gold production increased increased by just under one percent in 2015. According to Thomson Reuters GFMS, this is the seventh annual increase for gold production in a row, although that growth is slowing.

In it’s latest report on gold, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), stated that the estimated gold price was eight percent lower in 2015 than in the year previous. Spot gold prices dropped 11.27 percent for the year overall.

Still, gold production was on the rise in top producers China and Australia, and with gold prices back up 18 percent so far in 2016, investors will be keeping an eye out for more production of the yellow metal coming online.

With that in mind, here are the world’s top gold-producing countries from 2015, as reported by the USGS.

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1. China

Mine production: 490 metric tons 

China’s gold output continues to grow, with the country keeping the top gold producer spot for the ninth year in a row. Production increased from 450 metric tons in 2014 to 490 metric tons last year

In addition to being the largest producer by a significant margin, China is also the world’s biggest consumer of gold. After a steep drop in 2014, China’s gold demand was on the rise again in 2015, reaching 867 tons for the year excluding central bank purchases, according to Thomson Reuters.

2. Australia

Mine production: 300 metric tons 

Australia’s growth in gold production for 2015 put the country in the number-two spot for the year, reaching approximately 3000 metric tons. That represents a sizeable increase from the 2014 level of 274 tons.

In 2014, the Australian dollar exchange rate declined 25 percent over the course of the year, while the gold price fell about 37 percent in US dollars. As a result, many producers mined their richest deposits to maintain a profit in a practice known as “high grading.”

However, with the dollar price now at a record high in Australian dollars, a number of gold miners are hedging production at current prices. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), one of the world’s top gold producers, has hedged a portion of gold production from its Telfer mine until June 2018.

3. Russia

Mine production: 242 metric tons

Russia saw a significant rise in gold production in 2014, leading the country to surpass the US for the first time in 25 years, RT reported. The country saw only a slight drop in gold production in 2015 to 247 tones from 242 tons the year previous, retaining its lead over the United States.

Russia holds an estimated 8,000 metric tons in gold reserves, second only to Australia, according to the USGS.

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4. United States

Mine production: 200 metric tons

While gold production dropped about ten tonnes from 2014, the US still made the latest list of top 10 gold-producing countries, putting out about 200 metric tons of the yellow metal last year. The country has about 45 lode mines, a few large placer mines in Alaska and numerous small mines in Alaska and other western states. Of these operations, 29 produced more than 99 percent of the total amount mined.

5. Canada

Mine production: 150 metric tons 

Canadian gold production remained fairly flat in 2015, dropping just 2 metric tons from the prior year to 150, according to the USGS. A weaker Canadian dollar was a boon for Canadian gold producers in 2015; since many sell their gold in US dollars, the exchange rate provided a welcome buffer from falling gold prices.

In the first four months of 2016, however, the loonie has started to rise along with gold on the back of higher oil prices.

6. Peru

Mine production: 150 metric tons 

Peru’s gold production decreased slightly in 2014 due to several factors, including lower-than-expected production from aging mines as well as government crackdowns on illegal mining operations. Last year, Peru’s deputy mines minister, Guillermo Shinno, told Reuters that gold output will continue to drop until 2016 as a result of that effort.

Peru was able to bump its gold production back up for 2015 to 150 tons from 140 tons in 2014. However, the country still struggles with illegal gold production.

7. South Africa

Mine production: 140 metric tons 

South African gold production has been on the decline for some time. However, that trend reversed last year, with South Africa upping its gold output from 140 tons to 152 tons.

However, gold production in the country has still fallen 85 percent since 1980, and as the Washington Post notes, falling gold prices have taken a toll on South Africa’s economy,

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8. Mexico

Mine production: 120 metric tons 

Mexico’s gold production held steady in 2015 with the country putting out 120 metric tons of the yellow metal compared to 118 tons the previous year. Over the past decade there have been numerous discoveries and mine developments in Mexico that have attracted a great deal of attention and have led to a more than four-fold increase in production in the country.

9. Uzbekistan

Mine production: 103 metric tonnes

Coming in 9th places was Uzbekistan, which upped its gold production by 3 tons in 2015. The country has long been producing from old mines, and has not seen much exploration investment. However, investments in gold and uranium exploration increased 25 percent in 2013.

The country’s Muruntau gold mine is one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the world. Overall, Uzbekistan holds approximately 1,700 tons in gold reserves.

10. Ghana

Mine production: 85 metric tons

Rounding out the list, Ghana’s production dropped slightly over the course of 2015, totaling 85 metric tons vs. 91 the year previous. To be sure, there were concerns that production in the country would drop significantly, as according to Bloomberg, falling prices caused several mines to suspend operations. However, the country’s year-end output was slightly higher than expected. Still, the story may be different for 2015.

“We will definitely record lower volumes this year,” Daniel Krampah, assistant manager of financial analysis for Ghana’s Minerals Commission, told the news outlet. “Some companies have placed their mines under care and maintenance.”

The Life Cycle of a Gold Mine: Resource Definition and The Feasibility Study

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This article was originally published by the Investing News Network on April 9 2015.

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