Russian Gold Production Increases, but Fails to Meet Expectations

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Feb. 6 – Russian gold production rose 3.6 percent year-on-year in 2011 to 209 metric tons, but below an earlier forecast, data published on Wednesday by the Gold Industrialists’ Union industry lobby showed.

The union expected Russia to produce 211 tons of gold last year – up from 202 tons in 2010 – of which 185 tons was expected to be mined.

Despite missing expectations, Russia, whose reserves are second only to South Africa’s, managed to return to positive growth after annual output declined by 1.4 percent in 2010.

In 2011, mined output totaled 185.3 tons, up 5 percent year-on-year, the lobby said in a statement. Output of gold as a by-product of other metals rose by 13.2 percent to 14.3 tons while refining from scrap fell by 25.9 percent to 9.3 tons.

The lobby added that about 3.1 tons of gold concentrate was processed outside Russia last year, but gave no further details.

In 2011, some of Petropavlovsk’s and Nord Gold’s assets helped the Amur Region in the Russian Far East raise production, while Polyus Gold’s mines also helped the Krasnoyarsk Region boost output.

Petropavlovsk, which operates four open-pit gold mines in Russia’s Far East, produced 630,100 ounces during 2011, ahead of its own forecast for 600,000 ounces. The firm said late January its full year output will rise 11 percent to 680,000 ounces in 2012.

Shares in Petropavlovsk have gained nearly 12 percent in the early weeks of the year to date, in line with the FTSE 350 Mining Index.

The price of gold, widely seen as a safe haven for investors during uncertain times, has fallen from record highs in early September, but remains relatively buoyant at around US$1,654 per ounce, Reuters reports.

According to igoldprice.net, world spot gold prices rose US$171 per ounce, or 10.91 percent, during the first month of 2012. The yellow metal is currently trading at US$1,736 an ounce.

The price of gold is likely to remain strong and trade in a range of US$1,500 to US$2,500 per ounce in the years ahead, Greg Robinson, chief executive of Newcrest Mining Ltd. told reporters last Thursday.

Morgan Stanley forecasts the metal will climb to a record average of US$2,175 per ounce in 2013, analysts Peter Richardson and Joel Crane said in a report dated January 17, while in a January 13 report, Goldman Sachs reckoned that gold futures will advance to US$1,940 an ounce in 12 months.

All Russian gold is mined in Siberia and the Far East (or the Asian part of Russia) in particular in the Amur Region, Chukotka, Yakutia, Irkutsk Region, Magadan, Khabarovsk Territory, Buryat Republic, Transbaikalian and Kamchatka edges, and in the Republics of Tyva and Khakassia.

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