Gold output in Australia, the second-biggest producer, rose in the fourth quarter to trim an annual drop, mining consultant Surbiton Associates Pty said.
Production was 67 metric tons in the three months to December, up 1 percent from a year earlier and almost 8 percent from the third quarter, Melbourne-based Surbiton said in a statement yesterday. That left the full-year total at 256 tons, down 4 percent from 2011, it said.
“Several producers had to deal with short-term technical issues during the year, which reduced overall output,” Sandra Close, a director at Surbiton, said in the statement. “At last, we are seeing the effects of some new mines coming on-stream. As well, there were better performances from several established operations.”
Australia ranked second, behind China, as the biggest bullion miner in 2011, according to London-based researcher Thomson Reuters GFMS. The metal averaged a record $1,718 an ounce in the fourth quarter and gained the past 12 years, the best run in at least nine decades. It traded at $1,578.20 by 10:33 a.m. London, down 5.8 percent this year and 18 percent below the record $1,921.15 set in September 2011.
Output in the first-quarter is often lower due to fewer “all-up” days and because the cyclone season with high rainfall can affect operations, Close said.
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