Indonesia's gold production is likely to jump sharply to 60 metric tons a year by the year 2000, if a current boom in exploration and development continues, said Bill Davis, a group project leader for CRA Ltd., a big Australian mining group.

In a speech at the 1992 Australian Gold Conference here, Mr. Davis detailed 21 alluvial and primary gold projects currently in various states of development in Indonesia.The biggest, the Kelian gold project owned by CRA, is estimated to contain 85 million tons of ore at 1.9 grams of gold a ton. "Should these be developed, Indonesia's primary and byproduct gold production could well reach 50 and 60 tons per annum," he said.

In 1990, Indonesia produced 12.5 tons of gold, up from 1.9 tons in 1980. Mr. Davis' forecast assumes no marked decline in the gold price in real terms. Steps to boost government assistance to new mine developments will further spur growth in Indonesian gold production, he said.

Mr. Davis said that as many as 12 new sites are being considered for government fiscal and financial assistance at the moment.

The target of 60 tons a year will become all the more possible should this renewed exploration activity, particularly in Irian Jaya, result in discoveries in the next 2 years, he said.

Despite the growth potential already in place for Indonesia, the country remains largely unexplored for new deposits, he said.

Irian Jaya is seen as one of the more promising areas for new discoveries, as it borders Papua New Guinea, an established gold province.

Government policy is also making Indonesia an attractive place for foreign investment at the moment, and as a result future development will be dominated by foreign-owned companies, Mr. Davis said.