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Australia's first-half gold production slows

SYDNEY--Gold mining output in Australia, the world's second-largest producer of the precious metal, dropped 5% in the first half of 2012 compared with a year earlier, international metals consultancy GFMS said Wednesday.

Production fell as mining companies recovered less gold from processed ore and some operations neared the end of their lifespans, according to the consultancy, a unit of Thomson Reuters Corp.

Australian gold production was 122.5 metric tons in the first half, down from 129.1 tons a year earlier, GFMS said. It added that a key contributing factor to the decline was lower output at Newcrest Mining Ltd.'s Cadia Valley operations, after the company processed lower-grade stockpiles.

Recovery rates at Australia's two largest gold mines--Newmont Mining Corp.and Barrick Gold Corp.'s Kalgoorlie Super Pit, and Newmont's own Boddington mine--also declined, it added.

Production at other Australian mines, including Ramelius Resources' Wattle Dam operation, slowed as they neared the end of their lives, GFMS said.

The world's top gold producer, China, meanwhile continued to race ahead, with production growing by 7% in the first six months of the year, taking output of the yellow metal to 182 tons.

More than half of the top-10 gold producers worldwide reported a drop in production as grades declined across the industry, construction and commissioning was delayed, and amid a slower-than-expected ramp-up of operations in key producing nations such as the U.S., South Africa and Russia.

Gold production globally was flat at 1,366 tons, GFMS said..............

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