AngloGold sees profits plunge as strikes weigh

SOUTH African miner AngloGold Ashanti yesterday reported a plunge in fourth quarter earnings, hit by wildcat strikes at its operations last year.

Industrial action plagued the world’s third-largest bullion producer from the end of September until November, essentially halting production for several weeks.

Fourth quarter headline earnings in 2012 were $7m (£4.6m) – down from $295m in the fourth quarter of 2011 – hit by lower output volumes and higher cash costs.

Full-year earnings came in at $924m, down from $1.3bn in 2011. The wildcat strikes last year and subsequent mine closures wiped $208m off annual earnings.

Full-year production totalled 3.9m ounces of gold – which includes a loss of 235,000 ounces due to the strikes – below the firm’s target.

The gold miner is targeting a ramp-up in output this year to between 4.1m ounces and 4.4m ounces, which would make 2013 output broadly flat to 2011’s full-year production of 4.33m gold ounces.

Last week, AngloGold’s closest rival Gold Fields reported a 20 per cent fall in headline earnings, largely due to the impact of an illegal strike at two South African mines it has since spun off.

Elsewhere in the South African mining sector, striking employees at Anglo American’s 80 per cent owned subsidiary Anglo American Platinum returned to work yesterday, following a one-day walkout in response to violence at a mine.

Amplats said that over the one day of suspended production, it lost 3,886 ounces of platinum output.