interest – apart from BHP and Rio Tinto, which have interests in several minerals and energy resources. Notice how well the gold companies have performed, with Saracen and Northern Star both having had a wonderful year. Newcrest is the odd one out, but if the dataset was extended into 2019 it would also have finished in positive territory. The petroleum companies were lacklustre, particularly Origin Energy, presumably because most of its business is in the retail energy sector and governments have been attacking the main players in this field to try to reduce electricity prices. Of the three dedicated coal companies in the top 150, New Hope had a good year and Yancoal and Whitehavens’values both declined. The price variations for thermal coal, iron ore, gold and petroleum are shown in Figure 2. Of these four commodities, petroleum had the highest volatility, ranging from, $US 49–71/bl (45%), followed by thermal coal $US 94–120/t (28%), iron ore $US 64–78/t (22%), and gold $US 1198–1331/oz (11%). The relative stability of the gold price and the decline in the value of the Australian dollar against the US dollar makes gold an attractive investment, particularly as most of the costs of extraction and exploration are in Australian dollars. Figure 3 gives an indication of the variation in the gold price in Australian dollars over a longer period. During the last 10 years there has been a steady increase in the price and its volatility is not as large as it was in the 1970s and 1980s. Australian gold production has increased steadily from 2008 and could pass the 300 tonnes/year mark in 2019 if the production continues to increase at a similar rate. There does not appear to be a strong correlation between gold price and exploration investment, but it is good to see the steep rise in the exploration effort during the last six years. Australia remains second in the world table of gold producers for 2017 ( historical-mine-production). The 2018 data will not be available until later in 2019. The total annual global gold production in 2017 was 3247 tonnes and the top 10 producers are shown in Table 2. It is most unlikely that Australia will overtake China in the foreseeable future, but in 1970 South African production peaked 1000 tonnes and in 2017 it only produced 157; as a result of depleting reserves and aging infrastructure. It’s not clear whether Australia has reached its peak annual production, but based on the increased exploration activity, particularly in Western Australia, it would not be surprising if it produced over 300 tonnes in 2019. That would be worth over $US 12 billion. They say that all that glitters is not gold, but if you have the gold you don’t need the glitter! Table 2.  Top 10 global gold producers 2017 Country Tonnes China 429.4 Australia 289.0 Russia 272.3 United States 243.6 Canada 171.2 Peru 166.6 South Africa 156.9 Finland 130.1 Mexico 122.4 Guyana 114.2 Figure 3.  Quarterly gold production in Australia, investment in gold exploration and the price of gold in Australian dollars between 1970 and 2018. The dollar values have been normalised to December 2018 $A using the ABS’s CPI published values. Figure 2.  Selected commodity prices for thermal coal, iron ore, petroleum and gold for the period November 2017–December 2018. The right-hand axis relates to gold and the left had axis to the other three commodities. No CPI adjustments have been made. 19 PREVIEW Canberra observed FEBRUARY 2019