LIMA, May 21 (UPI) -- Peru, currently the world's sixth largest producer of gold, is poised to move a notch higher with increased output likely to make it the fifth largest -- again.
Peru was the world's fifth largest for a few years until the global lineup was disturbed by China taking over from South Africa as the largest producer.
Problems in Peru's mining sector led to decline in gold yield, demoting the Latin American nation in the global league of countries that mine, refine and export gold. However, energetic government measures are now set to give Peru a push again, senior Peruvian government officials told a symposium devoted to the previous metal.
The ninth International Gold Symposium was organized by the Gold Committee of Peru's National Mining, Petroleum and Energy Society.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines announced the country would rank among the world's top five gold producers before 2015 with increased investment and productivity in the sector.
"At present, Peru ranks sixth in world gold production, but is not that far away from the first places. Our production reached 182 metric tons last year, while the first place reached 300 metric tons," Energy and Mines Minister Pedro Sanchez told the symposium, in a reference to China.
He said investment now under way would allow Peru to assume a more prominent position in the world gold production ranking.
Currently global gold output totals 2,350 metric tons, of which China accounts for 300 metric tons or 12.8 percent of global production.
China is followed in the lineup by Australia, which reported production of 220 metric tons or 9.4 percent of the global total.
South Africa, no longer the world's pre-eminent gold producer, had a yield of 210 metric tons or 8.9 percent, while the United States and Russia, both lead producers in the past, trailed behind. The U.S. output of 210 metric tons accounted for 8.9 percent of the world total and Russia followed with 185 metric tons of 7.9 percent.
Peru's production of 182 metric tons placed it at the sixth position, accounting for 7.7 percent of the global total.
Sanchez said Peru was well on way to reaching its development target and was in the final stages of setting an expansion plan that would bring $14 billion of investment in the mining sector, including gold .
Symposium leader Jose Miguel Morales said that mining was now the main engine of Peru's economy. Exports from the mining sector in 2009 totaled $26.9 -- of which $6.8 billion was earned from gold and $5 billion from silver exports.