China's gold output reaches record high
The Chinese mainland's gold output reached a record high of 212.35 tons last year, according to an industry organization.
The figure was up 11.75 tons, or 5.86 per cent year-on-year, said the China Gold Association.
"The record high mainly resulted from production increases at domestic gold mines boosted by high gold prices," said Wang Yanpin, an official from the association.
China National Gold Group Corp, the nation's biggest gold firm and the parent of Shanghai-listed Zhongjin Gold Co Ltd, said that it produced 42 tons of the precious metal last year, a year-on-year increase of 25 per cent.
"China's gold industry has good opportunities to develop rapidly based on the domestic huge market with a population of 1.3 billion," Wang said.
The nation now ranks fourth in the world in terms of both gold output and demand.
He said domestic gold producers enjoyed "bumper profits" last year thanks to high gold prices.
Domestic gold companies' profits jumped 38.06 per cent year-on-year to 2.65 billion yuan (US$320.2 million) in the first 11 months of 2004.
Gold prices at the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the only one of its kind in China, ranged from 100.55 yuan (US$12.14) to 121.55 yuan (US$14.68) per gram last year in line with fluctuations on the international gold market.
The World Gold Council predicted last year that annual gold demand in the mainland is expected to grow to 600 tons in the coming years from 207.6 tons in 2003, boosted by the ongoing deregulation of China's gold market.
"Gold demand in the mainland this year will be very positive as a result of high gold prices, opening of gold investment businesses to individuals and gold-loving Chinese people's buying spree before Spring Festival (on February 9)," said Roland Wang, director of the gold council in China.
During the first three quarters of last year, gold demand in the mainland stood at 176 tons, including 162 tons in jewellery form and five tons as an investment, according to statistics from the gold council.
The Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China were approved by China Banking Regulatory Commission recently to open gold investment businesses to individuals.
Gold trade volume of Shanghai Gold Exchange amounted to 665.3 tons last year, up 41.35 per cent from 2003.
Its gold trade value surged by 59.17 per cent year-on-year to 73.1 billion yuan (US$8.83 billion) in 2004.