UPDATE 1-Lower gold price hits sales at Russia's Polyus Gold
* Says on track to produce 1.59-1.68 mln oz in 2013
* Natalka development is going as planned
MOSCOW Oct 18 (Reuters) - Russia's biggest gold miner Polyus Gold said on Friday its sales from continuing operations fell 9 percent, year-on-year, to $1.7 billion during the first nine months of the year due to a decrease in gold prices.
Gold prices have fallen by more than a fifth this year and are on track for their first annual drop since 2001. Polyus said its nine-month realised gold prices were down 15 percent to $1,431 per troy ounce.
The company, controlled by businessman Suleiman Kerimov, said its output rose 6 percent to 1.1 million ounces of gold in January-September thanks to higher production at its mines in Russia - Olimpiada, Titimukhta and Verninskoye.
Its Natalka project in Russia's far east - a challenging and costly project to develop one of the world's largest untapped deposits - remained on schedule to start full operations next summer, the company added.
It previously said it planned to spend up to $1.2 billion this year on the mine's construction.
Polyus's cash position stood at $1.2 billion with estimated net debt of $122 million as of the end of September, it said, adding it was on track to produce between 1.59 million and 1.68 million ounces in 2013.
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