Newcrest right on the golden target

The December quarter saw Newcrest’s gold and copper production rise just over 7 per cent, putting the company on target to hit its full-year production forecasts.

The miner produced 492,906 ounces of gold in the three months to December 31, up from 460,425 ounces in the three months to September 30.

Total copper production in the December quarter was 19,926, up from 18,598 tonnes produced in the September quarter.

"The company's gold and copper production is expected to progressively increase over the remainder of the financial year," Newcrest today said in a statement.

Newcrest also said it had maintained its full-year forecast for gold and copper production, but said gold would be at “the low end” of the range of 2.3 million to 2.5 million ounces for the year, SMH reported.

Copper production is expected to be in the range of 75 thousand tonnes to 85 thousand tonnes.

Increased production rates in the December quarter pushed Newcrest’s operational costs up marginally, but the company expects them to fall again over the second half of the 2012/13 financial year as its NSW Cadia East gold mine and Lihr operation in Papua New Guinea start to deliver.

Despite all of this, some analysts believe Newcrest is not out of the woods just yet, saying it may still be in danger of missing its annual gold production guidance.

The company’s quarterly report also revealed that both of these expansion projects have suffered cost blowouts, resulting in the company’s shares falling 40 cents lower, or 1.7 per cent, at $23.15 in late morning trade, after initially falling as much as 3.2 per cent, SMH reported.

The $US1.3 billion Lihr project is now forecast to cost $US1.4 billion, while the $1.91 billion worth of works at Cadia are now forecast to cost $2.05 billion.

In October Australian Mining reported that Newcrest Mining expected growth to continue, telling shareholders a period of strong dividend growth is ahead as capital spending on projects peak and higher rates of gold are produced.

Newcrest also operates the Telfer gold and copper mine located in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

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