Global gold mine output marked its 10th year of annual growth but continued to show signs of slowing in 2018, according to the World Gold Council.
Gold production rose fractionally by about 1% totaling 3,346.9 tons. That compares with 3,318.92 tons mined in 2017 — a 28-ton increase year-on-year.
Meanwhile, global gold demand grew by 4%.
Gold output in South Africa fell for the 14th straight month in November. According to Bloomberg, it ranks as the longest streak of monthly declines since 2012.
Production fell 14% from a year earlier, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said in a statement on its website last week.
South Africa once led the world in gold production. The precipitous drop in the country’s mine output over the last few years is expected to continue and could foreshadow a long-term trend of falling gold production globally.
Gold production in South Africa dropped by 19% year-on-year in September, according to a report at Fin24.
This continues a trend of monthly gold mine production drops. South African gold output fell by 15% in August and 15.5% in July.
The country once led the world in gold production. The precipitous drop in output over the last few years could signal an overall drop in global mine output.
Through the first half of 2018, gold production appears to be falling while the cost of mining the yellow metal continues to increase.
According to a report on SRSrocco, three of the world’s biggest gold mining companies all saw production fall in the first six months of the year. Barrick’s output declined the most, falling by over 20% to 2.1 million ounces in 1H 2018. Goldcorp’s production fell 10%, while Newmont’s output dropped by nearly 9%. Taken together, gold production from these three companies fell 15% year-on-year.
Global mine production fell slightly in 2017, the first drop in mine output since 2008. In fact, gold production has generally increased every year since the 1970s. The drop in 2008 was something of an anomaly, as it occurred at the onset of the 2008 financial crisis. The recent slowdown in mine production is more concerning. In fact, many people speculate we may be at or near “peak gold.”
South African gold output saw its biggest drop in over a year in May, falling 16.2% year-on-year. This is another sign that the one-time world leader in gold production could be running out of the yellow metal.
May’s decline came on the heels of a 5.8% drop in production in April. It was the eighth consecutive month of declining output for South African gold mines, according to Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa.
Last May, the head of the world’s largest mining company said we’ve found all of the gold. Goldcorp CEO Ian Telfer told the Financial Times, “we’re right at peak gold here.”
Peak gold is the point where the amount of gold mined out of the earth will begin to shrink every year, rather than increase, as it has done pretty consistently since the 1970s.
You could blow off Telfer’s comments off as hyperbole or the musings of a contrarian except that he’s not the only person in the gold mining industry worried about decreasing gold production. As a recent Business Insider article reported, many of the top people responsible for supplying the world’s gold say we’re running out of the yellow metal.
World Gold Council chief market strategist John Reade recently talked to Commodity TV about the current state of the gold market and what he sees in the future.
Reade cast an optimistic tone, saying the supply and demand fundamentals point toward a healthy, growing gold market moving forward.