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Gold exports to hit $6.3b

Higher gold prices are expected to underpin growth in the value of gold exports despite a fall in production volumes, the latest analysis by ABARE has found.
The Australian Gold Council CEO Michael O'Neill said the ABARE analysis indicated gold exports would fall slightly in 2006 but their value was expected to rise by 14 per cent to more than $6.3 billion because of higher prices.
"This is a positive outlook and a timely reminder that the gold industry continues to be a major contributor to export income," he said.
"Whilst the industry is focused on the future and the need for an increased share of global exploration, the positive nature of this outlook is a reminder that gold is currently delivering substantial benefits to the Australian economy."
Mr O'Neill said that ABARE had identified a combination of continuing uncertainty in global economic markets, positive supply and demand fundamentals and renewed central bank buying as contributing to the positive price movement in the commodity.
Mr O'Neill warned that whilst a number of operations were expected to commence production in Australia in 2006, the medium term outlook for production remained cloudy because of a decade long decline in Australia's share of global exploration.
"Australia's share of global exploration has declined 44 per cent over the past decade," he said. "We have not had a major discovery for more than a decade and in the decade ahead the consequences will be an inevitable fall in production."
Mr O'Neill said that the industry was pressing the Government for a package of initiatives to recover a share of global exploration.
"We cannot sit back and await the return of the global exploration dollars," he said.

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