aus. gold slips, but poised to climb the hill

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    Gold slips, but poised to climb the hill
    Email Print Normal font Large font By Barry Fitzgerald
    Resources Editor
    November 21, 2005

    Gold output is set to rise again in 2006 as new mines come on stream.
    Photo: Rob Homer

    AdvertisementGOLD production in Australia remained under pressure in the September quarter but is forecast to rebound next year, buoyed in part by the surge in the local gold price to an 18-year high of more than $660 an ounce.

    A production survey of the $5.5 billion industry by Melbourne-based mining consultancy Surbiton Associates found September-quarter production was 63.9 tonnes (2.05 million ounces worth $1.36 billion at current spot prices). That was down 2.8 per cent on the preceding June quarter and 3.3 per cent lower than the previous corresponding period.

    But Surbiton managing director Sandra Close said yesterday that there were some signs of improvement next year.

    "The hopeful outlook for 2006 is due to the ramp-up of (Newcrest's) Telfer mine, plus a number of new operations slated for start-up in the next few quarters," Dr Close said. "These should well outweigh closures," she said.

    New operations include the Burnakura mine in Western Australia of Tectonic/Extract Resources, which began commissioning in September. Ballarat Goldfields is due to produce first gold from its Ballarat East project and BMA Gold is recommissioning its treatment plant at Charters Towers in Queensland.

    The March quarter next year would also see Barrick start production at its Cowal project in NSW and Renison Consolidated Mines flicking on the switch at its Tom's Gully mine in the Northern Territory. Later in the year, the Victorian gold renaissance continues with first production due at the "New Bendigo" project of Bendigo Mining.

    And after a long drought on the exploration front, Dr Close said it was encouraging to note a "number of excellent drilling results being reported".

    "Two greenfields discoveries at Dalwallinu (Independence Group) and Tropicana (AngloGold/Independence) are particularly significant, as they each extend the WA gold province into virgin territory," Dr Close said. "Such exploration results show that Australia is still very prospective for further gold discoveries, both close to old goldmines but also in completely new areas. Hopefully they will stimulate further support for gold exploration."

    The Super Pit operation in Kalgoorlie remained Australia's biggest goldmine in the September quarter, with output of 198,000 ounces.
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