(Corrects headline, first and fifth paragraphs to remove timeframe for rise to record production; removes $ reference in 2nd paragraph and corrects 3rd paragraph to show ramp up at existing, not new, mines)
MELBOURNE, March 4 (Reuters) - Gold output from Australia, the world’s second-largest producer, may rise to a record as a stream of new projects comes on line, Australian mining consultancy Surbiton Associates said on Sunday.
Australian gold miners, among the lowest cost globally, have enjoyed high margins in recent years, boosting output.
Production in 2017 rose by 3 tonnes from the year before to 301 tonnes, equal to about 9.7 million ounces and the highest since 1999, due to a ramp up production at existing mines, said Surbiton in a report.
Given the number of projects coming on stream and with few closures anticipated “it would not be surprising to see another 20 tonnes of production added to last year’s output,” said Sandra Close, director at Surbiton.
“This suggests that Australia’s all-time record annual gold production of 314 tonnes recorded in 1997 might well be exceeded,” she said, without giving a timeframe.
Production in the quarter ending in December 2017 totalled 80 tonnes, up 6 tonnes from the previous quarter, Surbiton said.
Mines that have raised output in Australia include Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley; Tropicana, a joint venture by AngloGold and Independence Group; and Super Pit, a joint venture between Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold Corp.
China is the world’s biggest gold producer.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger