Updated: 2007-05-12 13:37

China produced 56.183 tons of gold in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increment of 7.746 tons or 15.99 percent, sources with the China Gold Industry Association said on Saturday.
Chinese gold enterprises realized 14.6 billion yuan (1.9 billion U.S. dollars) in gross industrial output in the three-month period, up 54.16 percent year-on-year. Their combined profits stood at 1.6 billion yuan (207.8 million U.S. dollars), up 44.12 percent.
From January to March, gold smelteries produced 17.909 tons of finished gold , up 14.76 percent, the sources said.
Sun Zhaoxue, head of the gold industry association, said that China's gold industry has entered a period of fast growth, setting records in output and profit last year.

According to Sun, the annual gold production nationwide increased from 181 tons in 2001 to 240 tons in 2006. Sales income of the gold sector went up from 10.7 billion yuan (1.4 billion U.S. dollars) to 58 billion yuan (7.5 billion U.S. dollars), with its profits up from 1.16 billion yuan (150.6 million U.S. dollars) to 6.1 billion yuan (792.2 million U.S. dollars).
The impressive development was due largely to robust domestic demand. In 2005, China witnessed more than 140 billion yuan (18.2 billion U.S. dollars) worth of gold jewelry sold, up 80 percent from the 2000 level. Meanwhile, the nation exported 5.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of gold jewelry, becoming one of the world's leading gold jewelry trading hubs.