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Will Covid-19 Slow Gold Production in Russia?

By Sergey Kashuba, Chairman, Union of Gold Producers of Russia

Published on June 10, 2020
A mine operated by Polyus, the largest gold-mining company in Russia and the world’s fourth largest.

The Russian Federation has about 14,600 tonnes of gold in reserves in situ, according to the Russian Classification of Reserves, which places the country among the top three nations globally in terms of gold reserves in the ground. The average grade of gold reserves in Russia is slightly above the average grade of the majority of other gold mining countries. Gold is mined in 25 regions, notably in Siberia and the Far East.

Gold reserves in Russia

Gold production in Russia has been steadily growing over the last 30 years, making the country among the three leading gold producing countries in the world. In 1991, Russia mined 168 tonnes of gold, a figure that has grown to 330 tonnes in 2019.

The top five companies produce 50% of the gold in Russia; the 25 largest companies account for 80% of overall production, while the remaining 550 companies produce about 20% of the overall gold production in Russia. As a result of the prevailing high gold price and heavy investment made by gold mining companies, gold production in Russia grew by an average of 3% to 6% per year from 2010 to 2019.

Record Production

According to the Union of Gold Producers of Russia, a non-profit organisation whose members produce over 70% of gold in Russia, gold production in Russia reached a record in 2019, in particular:

  • Production from hard-rock and alluvial gold deposits grew by 10%, amounting to 287 tonnes;
  • By-product mining from complex polymetallic deposits grew by 17.5%, amounting to 18 tonnes; and
  • Production of gold in concentrates from refractory ore grew by 46%, amounting to 25 tonnes.

While noting a surge of 10% of gold production from hard-rock and alluvial deposits in Russia in 2019 compared to the preceding year (in absolute numbers, it amounted to 25 tonnes), it is worthwhile mentioning the companies that contributed to the overall increase in gold production: Polyus, Polymetal, Petropavlovsk, Nordgold, Kinross Gold, Highland Gold Mining, Bystrinsky GOK (Norilsk Nickel), and Susumanzoloto.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus earlier this year, approximately one-third of the world’s biggest gold producers revised their forecasts for gold production in 2020. The Union of Gold Producers of Russia, which updates its forecast for gold production in Russia annually, believes the impact of the coronavirus on gold production in Russia is minimal at the moment, and that the pandemic will not result in a substantial drop in gold production. We remain firm in our belief that Russia will maintain its strong gold mining output from the previous year.

Gold mining output

Source: Ministry of Finance of Russia, company reports

Since 2012, SERGEY KASHUBA has been the chairman of the Union of Gold Producers of Russia (UGPR), an association of gold mining companies in Russia that together produces about 70% of the country’s gold. His experience in the industry spans 15 years in various mining companies, where he specialised in evaluating gold deposits in Russia and CIS countries and in structuring M&A deals of gold deposits. From 1999 to 2002, he chaired the Russian Banking Association’s precious metals committee. Previously, he was the chief of the precious metals department at various Russian banks. He graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages and worked in various state organizations before moving into the private sector.