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Australian gold output slumps 8 pct in Q1 due to cyclone, rain

SYDNEY, May 28 (Reuters) - Heavy rains and a cyclone led to an 8 percent, or six-tonne drop in Australian gold production in the first quarter, a survey released on Sunday showed.

Output for the quarter from the world's second-biggest gold mining nation after China totaled 71.5 tonnes versus 77.5 tonnes in the previous quarter, according to the survey by Australian mining consultancy Surbiton Associates.

"This year heavy rain in Western Australia, which accounts for about three-quarters of Australias gold output, plus the effects of Cyclone Debbie in Queensland in late-March, played havoc with gold production at many operations across the country," Surbiton director Sandra Close said.

First quarter output was in line with levels in the first quarter of 2016, Close said.

He said output is typically higher in the remaining three quarters as seasonally drier weather sets in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first three months of the year being the shortest quarter of the year also played a role, as every day of the year about three quarters of a tonne of gold is mined in Australia, worth more than A$40 million ($30 million) at today's prices of around A$1,700 per ounce, according to Close.

Gold ore mined in Australia is often hauled from underground shafts to the lower levels of previously mined open pits, with wet weather slowing operations due to slippery haul roads. ($1 = 1.3448 Australian dollars) (Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Marguerita Choy)