Gold Union Says Output Rose 13.3%

Russia boosted 2008 gold output 13.3 percent to 184.49 tons (5.93 million ounces), reversing five years of decline, after several of its biggest miners raised production, the main industry lobby said Friday.

The rise exceeded the Russian Gold Industrialists' Union's forecast of an 8 percent increase. Kinross Gold launched its large Kupol mine in Chukotka last year, while Peter Hambro Mining and Polymetal also raised output.

The union said 2008 gold output from mines rose 13.1 percent to 163.89 tons, compared with 144.85 tons in 2007.

Valery Braiko, the union's head, said production would be steady this year. "Our preliminary estimate is the same level, with the possible addition of 1 or 2 tons."

The country's gold reserves are second only to South Africa's, and Russia has plans to increase output significantly in the next decade by opening up new deposits in Siberia and the Far East. Russia traditionally ranks fifth or sixth in terms of output. Total gold production in 2007 was 162.84 tons.

The union said in a statement that 2008 output achieved by refining gold from scrap rose 22.9 percent to 8.14 tons, from 5.87 tons a year earlier. Gold as a by-product of other metals rose 2.8 percent to 12.46 tons, from 12.12 tons.

Braiko did not give a 2009 estimate for refining gold from scrap or as a by-product of other metals.