By Robb M. Stewart
MELBOURNE--Australia's gold production in the January-March period fell for the third quarter in a row, dented in large part by wet weather, but there are a number of projects in the pipeline that will start producing soon, Melbourne-based mining consultants Surbiton Associates Pty. Ltd. said in a report released Sunday.
Production fell to 62 metric tons, down 5% from the previous quarter and 4% from a year earlier, data from Surbiton showed.
"As well as the usual ups and downs, wet weather caused access problems in several mines...so there was greater reliance on treating lower-grade stock piles, which reduced gold output," Director Sandra Close said.
Production was lower at many top mines. Output at Newmont Mining Corp.'s (NEM) Boddington mine near Perth was 43,000 troy ounces, or more than a ton, lower than the previous quarter due to lower grades being mined and less ore being processed, Ms. Close said.
Newcrest Mining Ltd.'s (NCM.AU) Cadia Hill operation in New South Wales state recorded a decline of 27,000 ounces from the previous quarter due to the weather.
Production at the SuperPit mine in Western Australia, jointly owned by Newmont and Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX), fell by 16,6000 ounces due to maintenance, but it was still the country's top producer.
Gold prices rose early this year to peak around 1,800 U.S. dollars an ounce in late February, but have now fallen below US$1,600/oz. The price in Australian dollars fluctuated in a narrower range, averaging around A$1,600/oz over the period, Ms. Close said.
She also said a number of new or redeveloped operations are coming on stream, including Ramelius Resources Ltd.'s (RMS.AU) Mt. Magnet operation.
Ivanhoe Australia Ltd. (IVA.AU) produced its first copper and gold concentrates in Queensland state this year, while Sandfire Resources NL (SFR.AU) shipped the first copper ore from its new DeGrussa copper and gold mine in Western Australia.
One of the most significant new operations is Newcrest's Cadia East operation, which is scheduled to begin production toward the end of the year.
When it reaches full output, it will produce between 700,000 and 800,000 ounces of gold and 100,000 tons of copper annually.
"There is also a string of medium to small gold operations which should begin production later this year. Each is not large, but together they amount to a steady supply of new projects that replace those that are worked out and closed."
Write to Robb M. Stewart at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 23, 2012 22:14 ET (02:14 GMT)
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