Anglo Asian increases gold output in Azerbaijan

BAKU, April 22 Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:50am EDT

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BAKU, April 22 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan's main gold producer said it had increased output by 32 percent in the first quarter of 2014 and set a target of 62,000 to 67,000 ounces for the year, up as much as 28.7 percent from production in 2013.

London-listed Anglo Asian Mining Plc said on Tuesday it had raised production at Azerbaijan's main mine, Gedabek, to 11,312 ounces in January-March 2014 from 8,585 ounces in the same period last year.

"Our revised 2014 gold production target of between 62,000 ounces and 67,000 ounces represents an increase on 2013 production of 52,068 ounces of gold and highlights our commitment to achieving production growth over the coming year," Anglo Asian Chief Executive Officer Reza Vaziri said in a statement.

Its 2013 output rose from 50,025 ounces in 2012, but the company said it missed its target last year due to unexpected weather conditions and processing issues. It did not disclose the target, though a source there last year mentioned a figure of 80,000 ounces.

Gold is produced at Gedabek and other Azeri mines under a production venture with Anglo Asian, in which the government owns 49 percent.

Anglo Asian began production at Gedabek, 350 km west of the capital Baku, in July 2009 and plans to extract a total of 22 tonnes of gold from the mine.

It produced 1,095 tonnes of ore at the Gosha mine, 50 km from Gedabek, in the first quarter of this year, sending 250 tonnes to Gedabek for processing. It expects to mine 58,000 tonnes of ore at Gosha this year.

The company said gold sales in the first quarter of this year totalled 10,403 ounces at an average price of $1,303 per ounce.

The company commissioned an agitation leaching plant at Gedabek in June 2013 and installed a Knelson concentrator in March this year, hoping to isolate copper sulphides that were found to have restricted gold recoveries in the leach tanks in 2013.

"Early results have shown enhanced gold recovery from high-copper sulphide ore along with reduced cyanide consumption," CEO Vaziri said.

Overall, Anglo Asian, which is controlled by R.V. Investment Group Services, plans to develop seven mines in western Azerbaijan with estimated gold reserves of 430 tonnes. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze and Nailia Bagirova; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Jane Baird)

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