SA Gold Production Jumps Most in over 30 Years

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"High prices motivate miners to boost production by record rates."

Gold output in South Africa, the world's fourth-largest producer of the precious metal, increased the most in more than 30 years in January as prices traded near a record high amid investors demand for alternative assets.

Miners in the country produced 15.1% more gold during the month than they did a year earlier, according to a monthly report from Statistics South Africa. That's the biggest monthly increase according to Bloomberg data which goes back to the start of 1981.

South African gold production in January was skewed by exceptionally low output a year earlier, Martin Kohler, deputy director of statistics at the national directorate of mineral economics, said by phone from Pretoria today. He wasn't immediately able to comment further.

Gold rose 22% to an average of $1,359.98 an ounce during the month, from $1,116.56 a year earlier. The precious metal reached a record $1,444.95 an ounce on March 7 as violence in Libya boosted demand.

Total mine production in South Africa rose 4.3% in January from a year earlier, Statistics South Africa spokesman Jean-Pierre Terblanche said by phone from Pretoria. Iron ore output fell 36%, while production of platinum group metals climbed 14% and copper jumped 31%, the statistics agency said in a report on its website today.

South Africa was the world's largest gold producer in 2009 after China, Australia and the U.S., according to the country's Chamber of Mines. South Africa was the world's largest producer for much of the twentieth century.

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