Anglo Asian's Azerbaijan gold output declines 4% in 2019

TBILISI, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan’s leading gold mining company, Anglo Asian Mining Plc, said on Tuesday its gold output declined 4% in 2019 to 70,098 ounces from 72,798 ounces in 2018.

Anglo Asian produces gold at Gedabek and other Azeri mines in a joint venture with the state in which the London-listed company holds a 51% stake.

Gold production in the fourth quarter of 2019 fell to 17,907 ounces from 18,209 ounces in the same period of 2018.

The company said total production of gold-equivalent ounces (GEO), which includes other metals, declined to 82,795 GEO last year from 83,736 GEO a year earlier.

Copper output rose last year to 2,210 tonnes from 1,645 tonnes in 2018, while silver output declined to 159,356 ounces from 210,184 ounces.

The company’s gold bullion sales last year totalled 54,061 ounces at an average price of $1,410 per ounce in comparison with 59,481 ounces sold in 2018 at $1,265 per ounce.

The company said that GEO output was lower “due to the increase in the market price of gold relative to the market price of copper during the year”. In addition, total GEO output was within the initial forecast for the year of between 82,000 and 86,000. The company did not elaborate.

“We have increased net cash in 2019 by $15.1 million, notwithstanding paying dividends of $8.7 million and corporation taxes of $7.5 million in the year,” Reza Vaziri, the company’s CEO, said in a statement.

The company plans to make its final debt repayment in early February, delivering on its strategic plan to be debt free.

Anglo Asian began production at Gedabek, the bigger of two mines it operates, in July 2009. The second mining project is Gosha, which is 50 km (30 miles) northwest of Gedabek and contains at least nine mineralised zones.

The company started a significant exploration programme at the end of 2016 after making a new gold discovery at Ugur, 3 km (2 miles) from its Gedabek processing facilities. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Editing by Nick Macfie)