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Newmont Corp projected a jump in gold production for 2022 on Thursday as its operations recover from a pandemic-driven hit and investments to boost output at its Boddington mine in Australia and Ahafo in Ghana pay off.

The world’s top gold producer forecast output of 6.2 million ounces for next year, up from the six million ounces it expects to produce in 2021. Total gold output combined with other metals is estimated to be 7.5 million gold equivalent ounces in 2022.

While gold prices have declined this year because of the economic recovery and winding down of pandemic-era stimulus, the detection of the new Omicron coronavirus variant has recently boosted appeal of safer assets.

Denver-based Newmont said it expected full-year gold production to rise to between 6.2 million and 6.8 million ounces over the next five years.

It forecast 2022 attributable capital expenditure of about US$2.13-billion.

“The next two years, 2½ years are the most significant reinvestment period that Newmont has had in at least a generation,” chief executive Thomas Palmer said on a conference call.

“And it’s a bit of a combination of the pandemic having those projects stack up on each other a bit more than would have been our intent.”

The miner expects all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of US$1,050 an ounce in 2022, with the figure set to reduce to between US$920 and US$1,020 an ounce by 2024. AISC is a key metric used by miners to measure the overall cost of producing gold.

The pandemic’s impact on its operations had forced Newmont to cut its 2021 production outlook and hike its AISC forecast in October.

The miner said on Thursday it was on track to return more than US$2-billion to shareholders in 2021.

Its shares were down 1.7 per cent, tracking weaker gold prices.

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