Of the 3,5 million carats of gold produced, Rio Tinto produced 29 000 carats at its Murowa mine in Zimbabwe, down from 31 000 carats produced in the first quarter of 2009.
“In the first quarter, most of our operations continued to run at capacity. Chinese demand grew strongly and we saw some recovery in OECD markets, but we are still cautious about short term volatility,” said Tom Albanese, Rio Tinto’s chief executive in a statement.
The company produced 2,5 million carats at its Argyle mine in Western Australia, a 43% decrease compared to the first quarter of last year. Rio Tinto attributes the year-over-year decline in production to “lower feed grade and frequent stoppages of the process plant due to wet weather.”
Regarding Rio’s Diavik mine in Canada, where 938 000 carats were produced during the first quarter of 2010, this 12% drop in production compared to the same period last year was due to lower volumes processed, which the company said it “had planned.”
The Diavik underground mine commenced production in the first quarter, with 6% of total carats for the period sourced from the underground. The underground mine produced its first ore at the end of March.
The Chamber of Mines this week said Zimbabwe’s quarterly gold production surged to more than one and a half tonnes on the back of increased mine output.
The chamber said the country’s quarterly production jumped to 1 667 tonnes, from zero production during the same period last year.
“By year-end we are looking at between 6 000 -7 000 kgs given that things have somewhat stabilised in the industry,” Chamber of Mines said.
“Monthly production figures keep going up and down like a yoyo, but the problems of power supply, working capital and manpower are still affecting the industry.”
“However, when compared to the same period last year when there was no production, this year seems to be better for the industry in terms of production,” added the Chamber of Mines.
In January, the gold sector produced 519 kilograms, followed by 487 kgs in February and 661 kgs in March.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has projected that the mining industry sector could grow by 40% this year.