* AngloGold reports earnings rise
* Looks to sell interest in Cerro Vanguardia
* Approves Quebradona project feasibility study (Recasts with asset sale, adds CEO comments)
JOHANNESBURG, Feb 19 (Reuters) - South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it was putting its interests in an Argentine mine up for sale as it looks to focus on operations with a longer shelf life and ability to deliver higher returns.
AngloGold Chief Executive Kelvin Dushnisky, Barrick Gold’s former president, was appointed to head the firm last year and has rolled out plans to streamline its portfolio, set a 15 percent hurdle on returns on investment and cut debt leverage targets to a ratio of 1.0 times net debt to adjusted Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.
“As we look at the assets portfolio it is very important that we can see the assets in our mix have long-term potential and to the extent that they don’t or there is other strategic reasons to disinvest, we will do that,” Dushnisky told Reuters.
The bullion miner, which last year said it planned to sell its interest in its Sadiola mine in Mali, has initiated sales processes for Cerro Vanguardia in Argentina.
“It’s a single asset in an area where we are not likely to be focusing and investing more given the other opportunities we have in the pipeline to invest elsewhere in higher return projects and in areas where we have critical mass,” he said.
AngloGold said its South African Mponeng mine, the world’s deepest gold mine, had improved since going through restructuring and there were no immediate plans to sell it.
“We are not pressed to come to any kind of conclusion. We will continue to evaluate it like the rest of the portfolio,” Dushnisky said.
The worlds third largest gold miner also has new projects on the cards, as it proceeds with a feasibility study for Quebradona, a joint venture with B2Gold, in Colombia.
The study of the greenfield project, which has reserves of 1.26 million tonnes of copper and a 2.22 million ounces of gold, is expected to be complete by 2020.
“It shouldn’t surprise anybody that we may decide to bring a partner into a project like Quebradona, and if we did it would likely be a partner that has copper development and operating experience,” said Dushnisky.
The company reported higher full-year earnings, boosted by lower amortisation after the closure and sale of some of its assets, and a higher income from its Kibali operations, with headline earnings per share at 53 cents ($0.0375) in the year ended Dec. 31, 2018, compared with 6 cents in the previous year.
$1 = 14.1299 rand Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Evans
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