aussie bureau cuts aussie gold production for 02/0

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    SYDNEY, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australia on Monday revised down

    its forecast gold production in 2002/03 (July/June) by 5.5

    percent to 276 tonnes from 292 tonnes previously, saying it now

    has a clearer picture on mining company activities.

    The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics

    (ABARE) also lowered its estimate of 2001/02 national gold yield

    by seven tonnes to 264 tonnes from 271 tonnes.

    "We've had a more detailed look at which mining operations

    are coming on stream this year and at what level and have revised

    our forecast accordingly," ABARE gold analyst Anthony Simms told


    Gold production in Australia, the world's number three gold

    mining country behind South Africa and the United States, peaked

    at 318 tonnes in 1997/98.

    Analysts have blamed the steady decline since on less

    exploration work, which slowed the pace of new mine development.
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