Several factors lowered Barrick's attributable production in the fourth quarter of 2017. Production at Lagunas Norte and Porgera was up over the fourth quarter of 2016, but at the namesake Barrick Nevada operation, production fell by about 77,000 ounces. Production was down another 12,000 ounces at Pueblo Viejo, of which 7,200 ounces was attributable to Barrick, and was another 10,000 ounces lower at Hemlo. These declines, coupled with the production loss from Barrick's June 2017 divestiture of a 50% interest in Veladero, resulted in a more than 135,000-ounce fall in Barrick's fourth-quarter 2017 production compared with the year-ago quarter.
The world's perennially third-largest gold producer, AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., was one of the few in the top 10 to increase production in the December 2017 quarter. With output of just over 1 Moz, the South African miner had its best quarter since the fourth quarter of 2014. The company managed to eke out that production at an all-in sustaining cost 6% lower in South African rand than in the same period the year before. In U.S. dollars, the all-in sustaining cost was 4% lower. Production was down slightly at AngloGold's 45%-owned Kibali (Randgold Resources Ltd. 45%, Société Minière de Kilo Moto SARL 10%) and Mponeng, but was stable to incrementally higher everywhere else. Greater increases at Siguiri, Geita and Tropicana contributed to a 3%, or 27,000-ounce, overall increase in quarterly production compared with the year-ago period.
Freeport-McMoRan Inc. enjoyed a 32% year-over-year gold production increase in the December quarter, as Grasberg is currently processing more gold-rich ore. The operation was ranked the world's third-largest gold producer in 2017, behind Muruntau and the Barrick Nevada operation.
One of the greatest standouts was B2Gold Corp., which increased production by 105,125 ounces over the third quarter of 2017 (+78%) and 100,102 ounces over the fourth quarter of 2016 (+71%). B2Gold owes the significant increase to its Fekola mine, which achieved commercial production in December 2017. Fekola has pushed B2Gold's annual gold production higher, with 2017 output up 15% over 2016, and the company forecasts 2018 consolidated gold production to be as much as 910,000 to 950,000 ounces, a 45% to 50% increase over 2017.
Although not ramping up as much as B2Gold, three other midtier producers are also in growth mode. Kirkland Lake Gold Ltd., OceanaGold Corp. and New Gold Inc. had fourth-quarter 2017 gold production increases between 56% and 62% over the year-ago quarter. Kirkland Lake completed its first year after acquiring Newmarket Gold in 2016, and OceanaGold commissioned its Haile mine earlier in 2017. New Gold increased its production by 72,503 ounces over the third quarter of 2017, after commissioning its Rainy River mine in September 2017.
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