(Yicai Global) April 17 -- China, the world’s largest gold miner and consumer, saw production and sales fall in the first quarter as mines remained closed due to tightened regulation and political changes led to fewer bullion buyers.
Production fell almost 3 percent on the year to just over 98.2 tons over the three-month period, state-run China News Service reported, citing April 16 data from the China Gold Association. Consumption slumped 5.4 percent to less than 285 tons.
Some gold mining firms cut production or shut up shop in 2017 to meet stricter regulations, said Song Xin, president of the association, adding that the decline was the first since 2000. China, which has produced more gold than any other country for 11 straight years, produced 426 tons of gold last year, down more than 6 percent from 2016.
The nation had a consumption surge at the beginning of 2017, setting the bar high for the first quarter this year, when sales dived 27.6 percent to less than 73.3 tons. Whole-year sales reached over 1,089 tons in 2017 after rising 9.4 percent, Song added, saying China has led the world in gold consumption for five years running.
The international community is undergoing complex political and economic changes, he continued, saying this is taking its toll on the gold market and blurs the sector’s growth prospects. Gold is an irreplaceable strategic asset around the world, and plays a significant role in maintaining national financial stability and economic security, Song said.
China also dominates gold trading markets, with the Shanghai Gold Exchange leading the globe and the Shanghai Futures Exchange being the second-biggest gold futures market behind the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Editor: James Boynton