MELBOURNE — Gold output from Australia, the world’s second-largest producer, may rise to a record this year as a stream of new projects come on line, Australian mining consultancy Surbiton Associates said on Sunday.

Australian gold miners, among the lowest cost globally, have enjoyed high margins in recent years, boosting output as a strengthening US dollar supercharged Australian dollar prices which were then flowed into exploration.

Production in 2017 rose by 3 tons from the year before to 301 tons, equal to about 9.7 million ounces and the highest since 1999, due to the ramp up of a string of new operations, said Surbiton in a report.

Given the number of projects coming on stream in 2018 and with few closures anticipated “it would not be surprising to see another 20 tons of production added to last year’s output,” said Sandra Close, director at Surbiton.

“This suggests that Australia’s all-time record annual gold production of 314 tons recorded in 1997 might well be exceeded.”

Production in the quarter ending in December 2017 totaled 80 tons, up 6 tons from the previous quarter, Surbiton said.

Mines that have raised output in Australia include Newcrest Mining’s Cadia Valley; Tropicana, a joint venture by AngloGold and Independence Group; and Super Pit, a joint venture between Newmont Mining and Barrick Gold Corp.

China is the world’s biggest gold producer. — Reuters