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South Africa’s AngloGold targets output cost cuts

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) -AngloGold Ashanti aims to bring down its gold mining costs to a level closer to its global rivals over the next two to three years, its new chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: A worker pours gold at the AngloGold Ashanti mine at Obuasi, Ghana, October 23, 2003 . REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The mining company, which is headquartered in South Africa and has operations across Africa, Australia and Latin America, has a lower market valuation than some peers and its high production costs are see as the main reason for the disparity.

AngloGold’s all-in sustaining cost (AISC) – a metric used to calculate all costs related to gold mining – is roughly a quarter higher than at top tier rivals such as Newmont Corp. and Barrick Gold.

“This is a two-to-three-year turnaround. It should not be more,” Alberto Calderon, who become chief executive in September, said in an interview after the company gave a third-quarter market update.

He said AngloGold would not be able better its rivals but will “claw back” at least half of the cost difference.

AngloGold posted record profit last year, cut its debt and announced bumper dividends, reaping the benefit of record gold prices that peaked in August 2020 at the height of the pandemic at more than $2,000 an ounce.

But bullion prices have since declined, albeit gradually, towards $1,800 on worries about rising interest rates and the improving health of economies globally.

AngloGold has lost more than half its market value since August last year and its shares have been the worst performers among top tier gold companies.

In May, it had to shut its Obuasi gold mine in Ghana after a fatal accident. The incident forced it to cut its production outlook for 2021 by 11% to 2.45 million-2.6 million ounces in August.

The company said on Monday that its free cash flow for the quarter that ended on Sept. 30 slumped 95% to $17 million from $336 million last year.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, however, its cash flow improved as it managed to contain costs and improve the grade of mined gold, helping to send its shares as much as 4% higher.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee and Helen Reid; Editing by Shailesh Kuber, Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Clarke

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