Output slump rocks African Barrick Gold

LONDON-listed gold miner African Barrick Gold (ABG) yesterday posted a nine per cent drop in annual production, just weeks after takeover talks with a Chinese gold firm collapsed.

Over the full year, gold production came in at 626,212 ounces, nine per cent lower than 2011.

Gold sales for the African-focused miner also slumped 13 per cent to reach 609,252 ounces.

However ABG, a unit of the world’s largest gold producer Barrick Gold, said output ticked up in the fourth quarter to 180,684 ounces – a 22 per cent increase on the previous quarter and up 13 per cent year-on-year – thanks to higher qualities of gold mined at its North Mara and Buzwagi mines.

Chief executive Greg Hawkins added yesterday that the company had renewed mining licences and acquired early stage exploration licences in Kenya. Earlier this month, shares in the Tanzania-focused miner plunged almost 20 per cent as its Canadian parent Barrick said it was no longer in talks over a deal to sell the unit to China Gold.

Following the end of talks, ABG, which has suffered three consecutive years of declining gold output, kicked off an operational review of the business, aimed at improving returns from its four gold mines in Tanzania.

Shares closed up 0.43 per cent yesterday at 350p.