Cyclone Season Hits Australia's March Output


"Wet weather had producers ceasing operations or processing lower-grade ore."

Mining Weekly

Australian gold production fell by 7% during the March quarter, as cyclonic rains dislocated mining operations, industry consultant Surbiton Associates said over the weekend.

During the three months to the end of March, Australian gold production reached 65 t, or 2,1-million ounces, compared with the 70 t produced in the previous quarter.

However, output was still some 6%, or 4 t, higher than the previous comparable period.

"The March quarter is the shortest in the year and coincides with the cyclone season. Gold production is vulnerable to wet weather and with the widespread rain early this year it was as much a case of rivers of water as rivers of gold," said Surbiton director Dr. Sandra Close.

She noted that although two-thirds of Australia's gold operations reported lower output in the latest period, the overall reduction of only 5 t, worth some A$225-million at current prices, was creditable under the circumstances.

"As the largest producing state, with 73% of total primary gold production in 2010, Western Australia is the most susceptible. New South Wales is second with 12% of output in 2010, followed by Queensland with 5%."

In Western Australia, Cyclone Bianca hit in January and was followed by Cyclone Carlos in February. On the East Coast, Cyclone Anthony hit Queensland in January followed by the destructive Cyclone Yasi in February, which soaked the region from north of Cairns, through Central Australia and New South Wales and into Victoria.

"The abnormally wet weather impacted both opencut and underground operations. Access to ore and/or haulage from the mines to the processing plants caused a range of operational problems. Some mines had to cease production for several days while others had to process lower-grade stockpiled material."

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