Rising gold prices set Rangold profits soaring

GOLD producer Randgold Resources yesterday posted a 43 per cent jump in full-year profits as higher gold prices outweighed a fall in production and allowed the firm to raise its dividend by 18 per cent.

Profits for 2010 grew to $120.6 million (74.9m) from $84.3m in 2009 and would have been higher if sales from the FTSE-100 company's Tongon mine in the Ivory Coast hadn't been affected by the disputed presidential election in November.

Chief executive Mark Bristow said: "2010 was always going to be a tough year and it proved even more difficult than expected due to technical problems in the expansion of the Loulo complex in Mali and the unsettled situation in the Ivory Coast."

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At least 260 people have been killed in the Ivory Coast after a disputed 28 November presidential vote.

The board recommended a final dividend of 20 cents, up from 17 cents in 2009.

Production for the year was a better-than-expected 440,107 ounces after the company had warned in August and again in December would be lower than its original predictions.

Randgold expects its production to rise to 750,000-790,000 ounces in 2011, with output weighted towards the second half. The group's 2011 target assumes the situation in the Ivory Coast will not hamper operations for much longer.

Gold prices rose to record highs last year on a weaker dollar and global economic uncertainty.