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New Gold Rush in Australia Boosts Global Supply

  • Phil Mercer

Australia is poised to overtake South Africa and the U.S. as the world's second-largest producer of gold as new mines boost output to meet a sharp rise in international demand. A giant facility south of Perth near the town of Boddington is leading the charge. Production has just started at what will be Australia's biggest gold mine that aims for an output of a million ounces a year.

After recent falls, Australia's gold output has bounced back and is worth about $7 billion annually.

The new gold rush has been boosted by production at the open cast Boddington mine in Western Australia that's owned by American resources company, Newmont.

Spokeswoman Annette Dix says the project has lofty ambitions.

"For the first five years, we will be the biggest goldmine in Australia. Eventually, it will be the size of the Perth CBD," she said.

Since the decision to develop the site near Perth was made in the late 1990s, the gold price has tripled. The facility expects to produce about $1.4 billion of the precious metal each year.

The development has transformed Boddington from a small community with a dozen shops into a prosperous hub of activity that's attracted 4,000 mine workers.

Gary Sherry from the local council is looking forward to the good times.

"Certainly we're a boom town, but I don't see a bust for Boddington. While things will calm down once the construction of the gold mine is finished, there'll be continued growth over 20 years as the mine slowly develop their resource, and that is 20 years of growth for our town," he said.

Prices for gold are approaching $1,000 an ounce and international investors, especially those in China, are taking a keen interest in the trade.

China remains the world's largest producer of gold. Analysts have predicted that increases to Australia's output could see it overtake the United States and South Africa as the second most important source of a precious commodity that shows few signs of going out of fashion.

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