China gold output growth to slow to less than 1 pct by 2018-BMI
* Output growth in no.1 producer seen slowing significantly
* Imports will likely increase to meet demand, analyst says
* Chinese gold mining cos seen looking overseas for growth
By Jan Harvey
LONDON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Growth in gold mine output from number one producer China is set to slow significantly in coming years in the face of declining ore grades and waning profitability, analysts Business Monitor International said on Friday.
Lower mine production will pave the way for rising imports to meet persistent strength in demand from Chinese consumers, BMI analyst Xinying Chia said, while domestic mining companies will also look overseas to boost production.
In an interview with the Reuters Global Gold Forum, Hong Kong-based Chia said Chinese mine output growth was expected to slide to 0.9 percent in 2018, from around 6 percent this year.
"Many domestic miners are grappling with the problems of depleting reserves, falling ore grades and rising cash costs," Chia said.
"Falling gold prices will compound the impact of these challenges by reducing economic mine reserves and eroding miners' profit margins," she said. Gold prices have fallen by more than a quarter since the beginning of 2013. Continued...