Hong Kong — World's top gold producer and consumer China produced 101.197 mt (2.95 million oz) of gold in the first quarter of 2017, decreasing 9.3% from 111.563 mt achieved a year earlier, the China Gold Association said Friday in a statement.
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Mined gold accounted for 79.6% of China's first-quarter gold output at 80.542 mt, slipping 8.4% from 87.93 mt in the same 2016 period, it said.
The remaining 20.655 mt was made up of gold produced as a byproduct of base metals processing in the March quarter, and represented a drop of 12.6% year on year.
CGA said the weaker performance in the first quarter reflected reduced output by domestic miners which have been affected by persistently low gold prices. Chinese miners are also speeding up the process of phasing out antiquated production facilities as Beijing presses on with its supply side reforms to eradicating overcapacity, it added.
To offset the fall in domestic production, the country boosted January-March gold imports by 64.5% to 10.467 mt.
After taking imports into account, overall Chinese nominal gold supply in the first quarter remained 5.9% lower than a year earlier, CGA said.
Top 10 Chinese gold producers -- including China National Gold Group Corporation, Zijin Mining, Shandong Gold, Shandong Zhaojin Group -- together accounted for more than two-fifth of the country's mined gold output in the first three months of 2017.
Contrary to the production decline in the March 2017 quarter, Chinese gold consumption jumped 14.7% year on year to 304.14 mt (8.87 million oz), figures released by the association showed.
During the comparison periods, gold used in jewelry manufacturing inched up 1.4% to 170.93 mt. Demand for the production of bullion surged 60.2% to 101.19 mt of gold. Gold for industrial application also rose 14.6% to 29.52 mt.
CGA observed a mild pick-up in sales of gold jewelry in China over the Lunar New Year holiday period. It also highlighted increasing public awareness of turning to gold bullions as a risk-off safe-haven assets.
In 2016, China's gold output was relatively steady at 453.49 mt, while consumption slipped 6.7% year on year to 975.38 mt.
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