November 29, 2015 / 10:45 PM / 3 years ago

RPT-Weak currency encourages Australia's gold miners to dig deeper

(Repeats story published on Sunday; no changes to text)

SYDNEY, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Gold miners in Australia, emboldened by a weakening currency, have been increasing production in the face of a global rout in the precious metal, figures released on Sunday showed.

Output by the world’s no. 2 producer behind China climbed to 72 tonnes in the third quarter, up 1 percent up on the previous quarter and 2 percent higher than the same period a year ago, according to a survey by sector consultants Surbiton Associates.

“The declining value of the Australian dollar has once again been the great saviour of our gold sector and of the local resources industry in general,” Surbiton director Sandra Close said.

The value of Australian dollar over the third quarter declined from around 77 U.S. cents to around 70 U.S. cents.

The weaker currency translated into a A$20 lift in the average gold price over the quarter for Australian producers versus the previous period to A$1,550 per ounce, Close said.

At the current exchange rate of about 72 U.S. cents, the local gold price sits at A$1,468.99 per ounce.

U.S.-dollar spot gold fell nearly 2 percent to a near six-year low of $1,052.46 an ounce on Friday, which analysts attributed to a strong U.S. dollar and prospects of a U.S. interest rate rise in December..

Some of Australia’s biggest mines increased output over the quarter, according to Close.

These included the Super Pit mine in Western Australia, a joint venture between Newmont Mining Corp and Barrick Gold Corp, which lifted production by 32,000 ounces in the third quarter versus the second quarter.

The Newmont-owned Tanami mine recorded a 10,000-ounce rise in output, while the Gwalia lode owned by St Barbara Ltd upped its yield by 15,000 ounces.

Australia last year produced 285 tonnes of gold, a distant second to the roughly 450 tonnes dug out of mines in China in 2014, according to industry data.

A decade ago, South Africa was the top gold producer followed by the United States, Australia and then China. (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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