AngloGold posts loss, suspends dividend payment

Chief Executive Officer, Srinivasan VenkatakrishnanChief Executive Officer, Srinivasan VenkatakrishnanAngloGold Ashanti Ltd, the third-largest producer of gold, posted a loss in the second quarter and suspended its dividend after bullion suffered a record three-month drop. Its shares slid to a 12-year low.

The adjusted headline loss, excluding one-time items, was $135 million in the quarter, from a profit of $113 million in the previous three months, the Johannesburg-based company said today in a statement. The shares dropped as much as 6.5 per cent and traded five per cent lower at 115.89 rand by 2:43 p.m. in Johannesburg, the lowest intraday level since April 2001.

AngloGold, with 21 operations in 10 countries, is cutting jobs, capital expenditure, exploration and slowing production at higher-cost mines as it adjusts to a gold price down 24 per cent this year. The company, which plans to begin mining gold at two low-cost mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Australia this year, suspended its dividend to conserve cash.

“There are going to be two more tough quarters in 2013 as we make these changes, but going into 2014 we will see the full benefit of the two new projects and the cost savings and capex savings come through,” Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said today on a call with reporters.

AngloGold plans to trim its all-in costs to $1,200 an ounce this year and $1,000 in 2014, said Venkatakrishnan, known as Venkat.

AngloGold’s break-even costs were $1,634 an ounce in the first quarter, in part due to investment in its two new mines, according to David Davis of SBG Securities Ltd. in Johannesburg.

AngloGold suspended its dividend, taking a “sensible and cautious approach” given the drop in prices and pressures on the company, Venkatakrishnan said in a separate interview.

The company will cut about 800 workers from the 2,000 in its corporate offices around the world and reduce its exploration budget 60 percent, it said. Corporate costs will fall by half next year from their 2012 levels.

“We are not saying we are ready to move on job cuts at any of the mines,” Venkatakrishnan said. “It’s a function of where the mine plans end up and what we see in terms of productivity improvements in the various regions. Any job cuts would be done after very careful consideration.”

AngloGold produced 935,000 ounces of gold in the second quarter, in line with the forecast published July 15, and four per cent more than in the first three months of the year.

Production will total from four million to 4.1 million ounces this year, down from a previous forecast of 4.1 million ounces to 4.4 million ounces, the company said in July. 

source Bloomberg/Graphic Business


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