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China to aim for 3% growth in gold

China is targeting a gold output growth of 3 percent this year to secure its position as the world's biggest gold producer.

It will seek to boost its underground gold reserves by 800 tons and increase production from 282 tons a year ago to 290 tons this year, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on its Website.

The government is to encourage consolidation of the industry through mergers so that the top 10 gold producers will account for more than half the nation's output, the ministry said, citing Deputy Minister Miao Yu.

China's gold output grew at an average of 7.6 percent a year from 2003 to last year with average annual profits rising by 41 percent. Its gold reserves added an average 700 tons a year during the period. The industry's profits topped 12.4 billion yuan (US$1.82 billion) last year, a record, while output grew 4.3 percent.

China surpassed South Africa as the world's biggest gold mining country in 2007 with a yearly production of 270.49 tons.

The country's gold output was a mere 4.5 tons in 1949, rising to 100 tons in 1995 and surpassing 200 tons in 2003.

Gold was trading at about US$957 an ounce yesterday. It reached a record high of US$1,200 an ounce in early last year and has been regaining ground since the fourth quarter of last year.

Turnover of gold in the Shanghai Gold Exchange rocketed 174.8 percent last year to 868.39 billion yuan.


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