GHANA – AngloGold Ashanti has reported a 72% leap in annual earnings boosted by higher bullion prices and its Kibali joint venture in Democratic Republic of Congo, GhanaWeb has reported.

The gold miner which is still forging ahead with a disposal plan to focus on higher returns said it was selling its last remaining South African assets to Harmony Gold for $300 million.

Chief Executive Kelvin Dushnisky said the company is working hard to deliver on its strategy and capture higher margins in the current strong environment for gold prices.

AngloGold was formed in 1998 through consolidation of the gold and uranium mining interests of Anglo American Corporation of South Africa.

However, ultra-deep gold mines have fallen out of favour because of soaring labour, power and operational costs, as well as safety concerns, at sites that operate at depths of up to 4 km.

The company has also put up for sale assets in Mali and its Cerro Vanguardia mine (CVSA) in Argentina, though the latter could yet be retained.

“We are in no rush to divest from CVSA unless we receive a very good offer,” Dushnisky said, adding that it had no plans to sell any more assets.

AngloGold’s free cash flow before growth capital, on which its dividend is based, surged 106% to $448 million, compared with US$217 million in the previous year.

The miner approved a dividend of 165 cents per share, up from 95 cents in 2018.

“We’re generating strong cash flow from our operations, and that’s allowing us to increase returns to shareholders, strengthen our balance sheet and invest in our ore bodies,” Dushnisky said in a statement.

The announcement resulted in the surging upward of AngloGold shares which rose by up to were up 2% to trade at 323.95 rand.

The miner however noted that Gold production for the full year slipped to 3.281 million ounces, from 3.4 million ounces in 2018.

It attributed this reduction to operational challenges at its Siguiri, Sunrise Dam and Cerro Vanguardia mines.

The company’s Geita mine in Tanzania was however on an upward Trend, achieving an output of 604,000 ounces, its highest in 13 years.