(REUTERS) -- Russian firms produced 209.0 tonnes of gold in 2011, 3.6 percent more than in 2010, but below an earlier forecast, data published on Wednesday by the Gold Industrialists' Union industry lobby showed.

The union expected Russia to produce 211 tonnes of gold last year, up from 202 tonnes in 2010, of which 185 tonnes was expected to be mined.

Despite missing expectations, Russia, whose reserves are second only to South Africa's, managed to return to growth after annual output declined by 1.4 percent in 2010.

In 2011 mined output totalled 185.3 tonnes, up 5.0 percent year-on-year, the lobby said in a statement. Output of gold as a by-product of other metals rose by 13.2 percent to 14.3 tonnes while refining from scrap fell by 25.9 percent to 9.3 tonnes.

The lobby added that about 3.1 tonnes of gold concentrate was processed outside Russia last year but gave no further details.

In 2011 some of Petropavlovsk's and Nord Gold's assets helped the Amur region in the Russian Far East raise production by half, while Polyus Gold's mines also helped Krasnoyarsk region boost output.