Golden quarter for Newcrest

NEWCREST Mining has revealed a 17% quarter-on-quarter increase in gold production for December 2009 and has reiterated its gold production guidance for 2010.
Golden quarter for Newcrest Golden quarter for Newcrest Golden quarter for Newcrest Golden quarter for Newcrest Golden quarter for Newcrest

Gold production from Newcrest's operations hit 442,333 ounces during the December quarter, up from 377,084oz in the September quarter.

The Melbourne-based gold miner said this was largely due to record quarterly production at Telfer, higher production at Cadia Valley and continued ramp-up at the Hidden Valley operations.

Cash costs fell 31% to $A310 an ounce and net cash costs fell 29% to $310/oz during the December quarter thanks to lower site operating costs, increased production and higher by-product credits which combined to deliver the lower-cost profile.

Copper production for the quarter was 23,860t, up 12% on the previous quarter.

Newcrest restated overall 2010 gold production guidance of 1.81-1.91 million ounces, while the guidance range for copper has increased to 85,000-90,000t for the year.

At its Telfer operations in Western Australia, gold production hit a record 184,610oz and 9450t of copper at a gross cash cost of $A479/oz compared with the September quarter performance of 162,929oz gold and 8376t of copper at a gross cash cost of $639/oz.

Gold and copper production increased 13% due to higher ore grades, higher mill throughput and improved recovery performance.

Cadia Hill's December quarter gold production hit 75,682oz of gold, up 45% on the previous quarter's 52,316oz due to higher grades and recoveries, while mill throughput was also higher.

Copper production from Cadia Hill in New South Wales was 7548t of copper, up from 6610t in the previous quarter.

Gross cash costs fell 63% from $546/oz in the September quarter to $201/oz due to a planned increase in ore inventory in the previous quarter.

Newcrest said it received New South Wales government planning approval for the Cadia East underground gold and copper project during the quarter.

The company will consider final approval for the project in early April.

Meanwhile, gold production from the Gosowong project in Indonesia came in at 91,288oz, up slightly on the previous quarter's 90,968oz, at a gross cash cost of $329/oz.

Newcrest said the slight increase in output was as a result of higher mill throughput that was partially offset by a lower grade.

"The Gosowong expansion project is on schedule and under budget with 67 per cent of total planned expenditure committed," the miner said.

Newcrest's 70%-owned Cracow mine in Queensland produced 16,872oz of gold at a gross cash cost of $532/oz, down from 20,285oz produced at a cash cost of $460/oz in the September quarter.

The company said that the production fall was in line with plans.

At the end of December, Newcrest had issued share capital of 483.8 million shares.

During the quarter, the company traded on the Australian Securities Exchange at a high of $39.75 and a low of $29.27.

Shares in Newcrest were today trading 23c higher at $32.53.

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