BAKU, July 18 (Reuters) – Azerbaijan’s top gold producer Anglo Asian Mining said on Tuesday its first-half output fell 31.4 percent year-on-year to 23,218 ounces, but it was keeping its 2017 production target unchanged at 64,000 to 72,000 ounces.
In 2016, the company’s gold output fell by 9.2 percent to 65,394 ounces, less than targeted.
The London-listed firm said copper production at Azerbaijan’s Gedabek main mine and the Gosha mine rose to 1,322 tonnes in the first half of this year from 969 tonnes a year earlier.
Silver output declined to 85,087 ounces from 90,782 ounces.
“Our (gold output) forecast for 2017 remains at between 64,000 ounces and 72,000 ounces whilst we continue our production optimisation programme, providing a very solid platform for us to build on in 2018 and beyond,” Anglo Asian CEO Reza Vaziri said in a statement.
Vaziri said “maintaining production during this phase of optimisation is a significant achievement for Anglo Asian and puts us in a strong position as we look to increase production from current levels with the introduction of ore from Ugur in the fourth quarter of 2017.”
Anglo Asian started a significant exploration programme at the end of last year after making a new gold discovery at Ugur, three km (1.8 miles) from its Gedabek processing facilities.
Gold sales in the second quarter of this year totalled 7,406 ounces at an average price of $1,258 per ounce, down from 8,283 ounces here sold in the first quarter at an average of $1,220 per ounce.
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 with plans to extract 22 tonnes of gold. Overall, Anglo Asian plans to exploit seven mines in western Azerbaijan with estimated gold reserves of 430 tonnes. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Mark Potter)