China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released figures for the country's gold output in November showing that production for the year to end-November reached 246.51 tonnes—up only 2.14% from the figure for the first 11 months of 2008—the year in which China's gold production exceeded that of South Africa for the first time, making it the world's top producer.
With South African output continuing to decline, this will have consolidated China's position as the world No. 1, but with declining output in a number of countries, of which South Africa's is the most significant, and only a small increase in China, it looks as if world gold output will likely fall further again in total once full 2008 statistics are available.
This will please those who look to supply demand fundamentals as supporting their positions on predicting higher and higher gold prices in the years ahead, but it should be noted that a slew of demand figures out of the traditional gold buying nations like India, Turkey and the Middle Eastern states have shown a sharp fall in demand over the past few months as high gold prices coupled with the global financial downturn have bitten into sales and imports into those countries. There have also been reports of increasing sales of gold from private holders into the markets as individuals feel that prices are high and not likely to move much higher.