By Jesse Morton, Technical Writer

Despite the fact that gold prices rose for the fourth year in a row in 2018, total gold output by top pure play gold miners fell 5% year-over-year (yoy).

It was the third year in a row that production fell.

Meanwhile, the miners, generally speaking, processed a bit more ore to get those lower production numbers, and saw costs creep higher for the fourth straight year. It further fueled the theory that world gold production, at least for most of the top miners, is cresting.

The trend appears to be behind two mergers, among the biggest in mining history, that occurred late last year and early this year. Those mergers temporarily pushed news from the industry to primetime audiences.

The backstory is found in the numbers from the two miners’ investor reports. Simply put, they are logging declining production, almost across the board, at their biggest mines. After a couple of years of aggressively nixing debt, they made hard moves to buy a competitor, pump up reserves, pacify shareholders, and muscle into the inside lane for the next few laps.

The box scores from a pantheon of top producers1, ranked by total output in 2018, provide the context and details.
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