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Gold output helps China shine as No. 1

CHINA'S gold output topped 282 tons last year to help the nation retain its spot as the world's biggest gold mining country, the China Gold Association said yesterday.

Despite difficulties and problems posed by a massive earthquake and financial crisis, China still managed to produce 4.26 percent, or 11.5 tons, more gold in 2008 than 2007, the association said yesterday on its Website.

Shandong, Henan and Jiangxi are the top three gold mining provinces, contributing 46.4 percent of the country's total output.

South Africa's official gold output in 2008 is not available yet but the country's output of the metal is expected to plummet by an estimated 14 percent last year, the sharpest percentage fall since 1901, GFMS, a London-based precious metals consultancy, said in mid-January.

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

Gold trading on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the country's sole bourse for the metal, skyrocketed 174.8 percent in 2008 to 868.39 billion yuan (US$127.14 billion).

Retail sales of gold for jewelry and bullions boomed last year. But analysts warned that gold jewelry sales may face challenges due to the economic slowdown this year but bullions are still attractive as a hedge.

South Africa holds the world's biggest gold resources. Its peak gold production once topped over 1,000 tons in the 1970s.


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