SYDNEY Nov 27 (Reuters) - Australia produced about 66 tonnes of gold, or 2.1 million ounces -- worth about $3.5 billion at current prices -- which was down 2.4 percent on the previous quarter, an industry survey released on Sunday showed.
Some Australian producers opted to mine ore with less gold as bullion prices soared to record highs in September, because they preferred to preserve richer ore in case prices tumble, leading to a 2.4 percent decline on the previous quarter, according to Melbourne-based Surbiton, which conducted the survey.
"Although this leads to lower production, it allows a more effective use of gold resources," said Surbiton analyst Sandra Close.
Spot gold has risen by around 17 percent so far this year, having hit a record $1,920.20 an ounce in early September before diving by more than $300. It has since rallied to trade at around $1,685.
Based on quarterly production figures to date, Australia is on track to maintain its no.2 ranking in gold production behind China.
China churned out a total of 226.39 tonnes of gold in the first eight months of the year, which would translate into annual output of nearly 340 tonnes if it maintains the same pace.
A recent survey by precious metals research group GFMS suggested that one-time sector leader South Africa had tumbled to fifth place in the list of gold producers, with the United States and Russia heading for higher yields.
Resources : REUTERS