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Newcrest Seeks to Expand Gold Output in West Africa

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia’s largest gold company, is seeking to boost output in West Africa to at least double production at its Bonikro mine in Ivory Coast.

“Ideally, and this is not written in stone, if we’re going to have a presence in Africa, we’d be looking for something bigger,” Geoff Day, chief operating officer-offshore for the Melbourne-based company, told reporters today at a conference in Sydney. “You’d have to think it would be in the order of 300,000-500,000 ounces. That would be something where you can say you can support a country presence.”

Bonikro, which Newcrest acquired through its A$11.4 billion ($11.3 billion) takeover of Lihir Gold Ltd. this year, produced 150,023 ounces of gold in 2009. Gold is headed for a 10th annual gain, spurring companies to raise output and buy rivals.

West Africa is the “right real estate” historically for high levels of gold production, Day said. “It’s great ground, there’s every chance it’ll be that. If it’s not, we’re not going to be philosophically wedded to it.”

Newcrest rose 1 percent to A$41.50 at the 4:10 p.m. Sydney time close on the Australian stock exchange.

Newcrest’s total gold output will reach 3.75 million ounces in fiscal 2014, Day said during a presentation. It will rise 8.2 percent annually from existing mines and projects, he said. Newcrest operates mines in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia as well as in Australia and Ivory Coast.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisabeth Behrmann in Sydney at ebehrmann1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net

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