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World Top 20 Gold Miners and Mines – Sharps Pixley

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

More from the Metals Focus Gold Focus 2017 report released earlier this week, and this article probably should be viewed in conjunction with the previous onee on last year’s Top 20 gold producing countries – See: Top 20 Gold Producing Nations See Small Gain in Output in 2016.  Herewith tabulations of the world’s biggest gold mining companies of last year and the world’s biggest operating mines according to Metals Focus’ team of analysts.

As will be seen from the tables, although overall global gold production rose last year some of the major producers – notably Barrick, AngloGold and Goldcorp all showed sharp reductions.  In Barrick’s case though this will largely have been due to divestments of non-core properties, but most of these will have continued production under their new ownerships.  Indeed some will have increased their outputs.  Barrick, though, is now in danger of being overtaken by Newmont as the world’s largest gold producer as its programme of divestment continues.  If it manages to sell its 50% stake in the Kalgoorlie Super Pit in Australia, which will have contributed 11 tonnes plus to Barrick’s total in 2016, that alone could bring the company’s annual total below that of Newmont.  The proposed sale of the Super Pit stake, which had been almost agreed with China’s Minjar Gold for $1.3 billion, appears to have stalled for the moment, but Barrick is still keen to sell, it is reported.

Newmont, on the other hand, having sold its stake in Batu Hijau in Indonesia (the world’s 9thlargest gold mine – see Table 2. below) in 2016 is in the throes of an aggressive expansion programme, much of which comes to fruition this year.  It has been using the $1.3 billion it received for the stake in Batu Hijau to invest in the Cripple Creek and Victor properties in Colorado acquired from AngloGold and the development of Merian in Suriname and Long Canyon in Nevada.  While Newmont’s 2017 guidance of between 4.9 and 5.4 million ounces of gold is still well below that of Barrick’s 5.6-5.9 million ounces, the latter presumably includes the Kalgoorlie Super Pit share and if a sale occurs that will bring Barrick’s attributable output down sharply.

Table 1.  Top 20 Gold Producing Companies 2015/2016 (Tonnes) (1 tonne= 32150.7 troy ounces)

Rank Country 2015

1 Barrick Gold 190.3 171.6 -10%
2 Newmont Mining 156.6 162.9 +4%
3 AngloGold Ashanti 122.8 112.8 -8%
4 Goldcorp 107.8 89.4 -17%
5 Kinross Gold 78.9 83.3 +6%
6 Newcrest Mining 77.4 76.7 -1%
7 Gold Fields 67.2 66.7 -1%
8 Polyus Gold 54.8 61.2 +12%
9 Navoi MMC (est) 61.0 61.0 -
10 Agnico Eagle Mines 52.0 51.7 -1%
11 Sibanye Gold 47.8 47.0 -2%
12 China National Gold 41.5 42.1 +1%
13 Yamana Gold 38.9 39.5 +2%
14 Randgold Resources 37.7 39.0 +3%
15 Shandong Gold 36.0 37.1 +3%
16 Zijin Mining 37.2 36.1 -3%
17 Harmony Gold 33.3 33.2 -
18 Glencore 30.0 31.9 +7%
19 Freeport McMoran 35.5 30.8 -13%
20 Fresnillo 23.7 29.1 +23%

The listing of the world’s biggest mines has seen some changes as the ebb and flow of gold production due to technical and political issues.  Of particular note perhaps is that there are no South African gold mines in the Top 20 gold mines below despite South Africa, once hugely the world’s biggest gold producing nation, managing to halt its seemingly inexorable year on year output decline in 2016. 

Table 2.  World’s 20 Largest Producing Gold Mines 2016 (tonnes of gold)

Rank Mine Name Country Operator 2015 Output 2016 Output %  Change
1 Muruntau Uzbekistan Uzbek Govt. 61.0 61.0 -
2 Pueblo Viejo Dominican Rep Barrick 29.7 36.3 +22%
3 Goldstrike USA Barrick 32.8 34.1 +4%
4 Grasberg Indonesia Freeport 38.3 33.0 -14%
5 Cortez USA Barrick 31.1 32.9 +6%
6 Carlin USA Newmont 27.6 29.4 +7%
7 Olimpiada Russia Polyus 23.6 29.3 +24%
8 Lihir PNG Newcrest 25.0 28.1 +12%
9 Batu Hijau Indonesia Amman Mineral 21.0 26.7 +27%
10 Boddington Australia Newmont 24.7 24.9 +1%
11 Cadia Valley Australia Newcrest 19.8 23.5 +19%
12 Super Pit Australia Newmont 19.9 23.3 +18%
13 Loulo-Gounkoto Mali Randgold 19.6 22.0 +12%
14 Kupol Russia Kinross 21.6 20.7 -4%
15 Yanacocha Peru Newmont 28.6 20.4 -29%
16 Kibali DRC Randgold 20.0 18.2 -9%
17 Canadian Malartic Canada Osisko 17.8 18.2 +2%
18 Tarkwa Ghana Gold Fields 18.2 17.7 -3%
19 Kumtor Kyrgyzstan Centerra 16.2 17.1 +6%
20 Sukari Egypt Centamin 13.7 17.1 +26%

Looking at the listing, the biggest gold mine – by a large margin – remains Muruntau in Uzbekistan, although the figure is only estimated.  Then comes the big Barrick/Newmont Pueblo Viejo jv in the Dominican Republic which has moved up from 5th place in 2015 as it has now built up to full production.  Freeport’s Grasberg mine, although primarily a copper mining operation drops down from second place to fourth – largely due to interference by political differences between the operating company and the Indonesian government which, some feel may force the American company to divest itself of some, or all, of its stake in this mammoth operation located in one of the most remote regions of the world.

A big expansion at Polyus Gold’s Olimpiada mine in Russia has moved it up from 11th place to 7thwhile good sized production increases at Australia’s Cadia Valley and Kalgoorlie Super Pit operations have helped Australia confirm its second place among the world’s gold producing nations, despite continuing growth in Russian production which remains in third place.

North America also saw some decent production increases among Barrick and Newmont’s Nevada gold mining operations, helping keep the USA in fifth place while Osisko’s Canadian Malartic remains flying the flag for Canada, which is currently the world’s 7th largest miner but could well jump two places this year, past Peru and South Africa, with Pretium’s high grade Brucejack mine coming on stream within the next month.

What are nowafays the two biggest gold mines in Africa are both operated by Randgold Resources, with the Loulo-Gounkoto operation outperforming Kibali last year with the latter having some technical problems which saw a drop of nearly 2 tonnes in output in 2016.  Both mines are set fair for 2017.  And interestingly Centamin’s Sukari gold mine in Egypt hit the Top 20 for the first time with a big 26% gold output increase.

In Central and South America, Newmont’s Yanacocha gold mine in Peru, which seems to be entering a production run-down phase, after being one of the world’s top 10 gold mines for many years now, dropped from 6th to 15th with a nearly 30% gold output fall.  Barrick's big Veladero mine in Argentina, in 17th place in 2015, dropped out of the Top 20 altogether. Latin America’s other largest gold producers are virtually all primarily copper operations producing gold as a byproduct, and none make the Top 20.

But as the listing shows, at the upper end of the scale there are more mines increasing production than those seeing falls which, to an extent, confirms the premise that peak gold production is not yet with us, although it may be getting very close.

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