China consolidates position as World No. 1 gold miner – by Lawrence Williams ( – March 14, 2012)

China’s annual gold production continues to grow comfortably maintaining its position as the world’s biggest gold miner assuming official statistics tell the full picture – which they may not!

LONDON –  The most recent  figures from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology note that China, already the world’s No. 1 gold miner since 2007, continued its dominance in world gold production with output rising last year by 5.89% to  360.95 tonnes.  The most recent statistics also show that the country’s gold mining sector continued to expand in January with a rise of about 3.69% from the same month a year ago, suggesting that we may well see further annual gold mine output growth in 2012.
China’s ever-increasing gold output though is still nowhere near the country’s huge appetite for consuming gold which rose to perhaps some 800 tonnes in 2011, although such figures tend to be speculative in nature as the officially reported statistics may not show the true picture.  There does seem to have been a fall-off in demand however at the end of last year and in the first two months of 2012 with official figures for imports through Hong Kong – the main import route – seeming to show a significant decline over the same period a year ago.
But there are always question marks over Chinese statistics which may well be presented to suit the State (something which even countries with a free market can do with some of their ‘official’ figures in these days of politically-motivated spin.)  What is an uncertainty over Chinese production figures is it is not clear whether these include byproduct output from the country’s big toll base metals smelting and refining sector, and whether output from a myriad of small gold mines, some being technically illegal operations, which fall outside direct state control is also included.
Likewise on the import side it is still unknown what proportion of gold imports, if any, does not come in through Hong Kong, which seems to be the only route for which possibly reliable statistics are available.
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