China may become the world's largest gold producer in five years, Bloomberg reported. Gold production will rise 8% to 260 metric tons this year, up from 240.1 tons last year, according to the China Gold Association. The US, which is now the world's second-largest producer, is expected to have an output of 250 tons this year. If the estimates are accurate, then China will take second place in the production stakes this year. Production in South Africa, long the world's top gold producer, has waned in recent years, dropping by about a third since 2002. Gold output in China has almost doubled in six years as local miners benefit from private investment. Gold prices are rising rapidly and are expected to rise above US$850 an ounce next year, a historic high.