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World's gold production expected to decline after peaking in 2024 - report

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(Kitco News) - According to the Australian Government’s Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER), after a 3.9% decline in 2020 (3,401 tonnes), the world’s gold mine production is forecast to increase by 5.5% (to 3,588 tonnes) in 2021, by 3.0% (to 3,696 tonnes) in 2022, and by 2.0% (to 3,769 tonnes) in 2023. DISER said that the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is expected to minimise disruption to gold mine production after 2022.

In 2021, gold mine production in Central and South America and Africa is expected to recover, following heavy losses in 2020. Production in Mexico is forecast to increase by 24% in 2021 to 128 tonnes, Peru (up 35% to 136 tonnes) and South Africa (up 24% to 124 tonnes).

DISER explained that a solid pipeline of projects in Australia and Canada is likely to drive higher global gold mine output in the short term, with miners focusing on expansions and extending the life of existing mines. Australia is expected to overtake China as the world’s largest gold producer in 2021, producing 384 tonnes, as miners respond to high gold prices. In China, stricter environmental regulations are likely to keep Chinese gold mine output at about 370 tonnes a year over the outlook period.

DISER noted that after a peak of 3,807 tonnes in 2024, the world’s gold mine production is projected to decline at an annual rate of 0.8% in 2025 and 2026, to 3,746 tonnes in 2026, as ore grades decline and operational costs increase.

According to the report, the number of unprofitable gold mines is expected to rise from 5% in 2021 to 10% in 2026. Reflecting this rise, more mine closures and reduced gold mine production are expected. A mine is considered by DISER as profitable or unprofitable if its all-in sustaining costs — a measure of all direct and recurring costs required to mine a unit of ore — are below or above the average gold prices.

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