CORRECTED-OFFICIAL-UPDATE 2-AngloGold to cut more costs after loss

Wed Aug 7, 2013 10:02am EDT

Related Topics

(Clarifies number of job cuts in paragraph five to 40 percent of 2,000, not 2,000 job cuts)

* Q2 headline loss per share $0.35 vs yr-ago profit

* Books impairment of $2.4 billion after gold price drop

* Shares hit 12-year low

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 7 (Reuters) - AngloGold Ashanti promised to cut more costs after it swung to a second-quarter loss, dragged lower by a plunging gold price that has forced it to reduce staff and scrap its quarterly dividend.

Shares in the world's third-largest bullion producer by output were down almost 6 percent by midday on Wednesday after touching a more than 12-year low.

Gold prices have fallen by almost a quarter since January, the sharpest drop in a generation that has forced large miners from Barrick Gold to Newmont to write down the value of their assets.

AngloGold, whose operations stretch from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo to Australia, had warned it would be forced to follow suit and on Wednesday took a $2.4 billion hit.

Africa's largest gold producer also followed peers across the mining industry with promises of more cost cuts, including plans to shed 40 percent of its 2,000 management jobs globally.

Randgold Resources said on Wednesday it would cut costs and raise production over the rest of the year to counter plunging bullion prices which triggered a 62-percent slump in the African gold mining group's second-quarter profit.

"We've taken the decision to prepare our business for a volatile gold price environment," AngloGold Chief Executive Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said.

Venkatakrishnan, a company veteran and former chief financial officer known as Venkat, was appointed to the top job in May, after his boss Mark Cutifani left to run diversified miner Anglo American.

Venkat aims to more than halve 2014 corporate costs, helped by the job cut plans. Spending on exploration for 2013 has also been more than halved.

Total cash costs - a measure closely watched in an industry that has seen costs soar over the past decade and remain stubbornly high - came in at $898 an ounce in the second quarter, in line with its target and just below the previous three months.

But Venkatakrishnan acknowledged that "all-in" costs - which would include $1 billion of capital primarily for its Tropicana and Kibali mines - would be "well above spot" prices, currently around $1,280 an ounce.

"If you look at a lot of the miners right now, a lot of their costs are almost close to the current gold price so a lot of producers are still going to struggle in this environment, especially with the very high cost structures that they have in place, said Paul Chakaduka, a trader at Global Trader in Johannesburg.

Like many South African miners, AngloGold has also been weighed down by rising costs and labour disputes at home.

The miner said it would cut marginal projects in South Africa, which accounts for around 40 percent of its global output.

"We're phasing some of our expenditure on projects in South Africa and have reduced this year's total capital budget by about $150 million, to $1.95 billion," said Venkatakrishnan.

The group said it was "difficult" to contemplate wage increases, as the South African industry hammers out pay deals with unions.

Negotiations are progressing under the auspices of a mediator after unions last month declared an official wage dispute.

The miner posted an adjusted headline loss of $0.35 in the April to June period compared with earnings of $0.29 in the previous three months and $0.70 a year earlier.

Production rose 4 percent to 935,000 ounces in the quarter. The company reduced its 2013 target to between 4 and 4.1 million ounces after revising its mine plans. It previously forecast a range of 4.1 million ounces to 4.4 million ounces. (Reporting by Sherilee Lakmidas, additional reporting by Benon Oluka; Editing by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Erica Billingham)

FILED UNDER: