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Australian gold yield surges to seven-year high Gold in February 2011

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Source: Herald Sun

AUSTRALIA'S annual gold output has shot to a seven-year high, securing the nation's position as the world's No.2 producer of the precious metal.

As gold prices soared to record levels, production jumped 17 per cent last year to 266 tonnes, according to industry consultants Surbiton Associates. This is worth about $12 billion at the current spot price.

"Gold remains one of Australia's top export earners," said Surbiton director Dr Sandra Close.

China was the top global producer with output of 341 tonnes and the United States was likely to score the No.3 spot with output of about 240 tonnes, Dr Close said.

Even though gold production was rising, Australia couldn't afford to be complacent, she warned.

Dr Close was concerned about increasing offshore exploration by locally listed miners.

"Less and less of the exploration dollar is being spent in Australia and this may well have a negative impact in the longer term," she said.

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In the December quarter, Australian mines produced 70 tonnes of gold, an increase of 3 per cent on the previous three months.

Production from the Super Pit, owned by global giants Newmont and Barrick, fell 22,000 ounces, but the Kalgoorlie mine retained its crown as Australia's biggest producer.