03/11/07 10:31 pm (GMT)
SYDNEY (XFN-ASIA) – Australian gold output has slipped to its lowest levels in 13 years, but the industry’s unhedged producers are enjoying strong revenue gains, thanks to continued price increases, the Age newspaper reported, citing an industry survey.

It said the survey by Melbourne-based consultant Surbiton Associates, showed Australia’s gold output fell 5 pct to 249 metric tons in 2006 from 263 tons in 2005 — the lowest annual total since 1993.

The Age said the production fall moved Australia’s global ranking as a gold producer from second position behind the dominant but also falling South Africa to third position, with the US industry regaining the second slot.

Surbiton director Sandra Close said that despite the production fall, the value of Australian gold production increased substantially.

“The average spot gold price of around 800 aud an ounce for 2006 was more than 200 aud an ounce higher than for 2005,” the Age quoted Close as saying.

She said the value of Australian gold production for the year increased almost 30 pct to 6.4 bln aud.

(1 usd = 1.28 aud)