South Africa's independent Chamber of Mines says the country has dropped to fourth place in worldwide gold production.
The Chamber of Mines said Monday that South Africa's output last year dropped 5.8 percent to an output of less than 205 tons. The statement says China, Australia and the U.S. now occupy the top three spots.
South Africa was for a century the world's top gold producer but lost its top ranking to China in 2006 as reserves in some of its mines were exhausted. Output declined by 14.5 percent in 2008, mostly the result of disruptions in power supplies, according to the chamber.
Gold is South Africa's second-largest export, after platinum metals. In 2009, the country earned some $6.7 billion from gold exports.
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