Updated: The long term outlook for Australian gold

Australian Institute of Geoscientists > Minerals and Energy Resources > Updated: The long term outlook for Australian gold

Long-term forecast of Australia’s mineral production and revenue The outlook for gold: 2017-2057

Report by MinEx Consulting: October 2017

Under the combined support and sponsorship of six government agencies (both State and Federal), three research organisations and three industry groups, including AIG, a landmark report has been published by MinEx Consulting looking at the forty-year outlook for the Australian gold industry. It forecasts the likely number of mines, production, revenues and employment out to 2057 for this vital sector of Australia’s economy.

In the past, most industry studies rarely look beyond ten years. The report’s author, Richard Schodde, says that “there are two good reasons for this; Firstly; the future is highly uncertain – and any single-line forecast is almost certain to be wrong. Secondly; most of these studies only looked at existing mines and possible new projects. This is fine for short- to medium-term forecasts but it ignores the important contribution of new discoveries for mine production in the longer-term.”

It goes without saying that every mine has a finite life (and will eventually close down); it also equally true that all mines were once a gleam in the eye of a geologist (i.e. it took someone to find them). Leaving out the discovery story results in an incomplete view on the long-term future of the mining industry.

As discussed below, nurturing exploration success is critical for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the mining industry.

MinEx Consulting’s approach to the task was via the following eight-step process:

  1. Embracing uncertainty and using a Monte Carlo approach to assess 1000 different possible scenarios of the future. This included generating a series of commodity price cycles that reflect what the industry has experienced in the past.
  2. Estimating future production from existing mines, adjusted for changes in the gold price, variability in operating performance and possible mine-life extensions.
  3. Assessing whether the future gold price scenario is sufficiently high enough to trigger the development of new mines on known projects.
  4. Using the price scenarios to predict likely future exploration expenditures. And from this,
  5. Estimating the likely number, size and quality of discoveries made over time.
  6. Determining the likelihood that a given discovery will be developed and, if so, incorporating a time-delay between discovery and development.
  7. Developing a model to estimate the likely production rate and mine life for these discoveries. From this, estimating their likely timing and contribution to future revenues and employment.
  8. Integrating together the results for existing mines, new projects and exploration success.

The report will be officially released next Monday, 16th October, 2017.

A media release outlining the study objectives and process is available here.  The study report is available here.