African Barrick's 2012 output drops 9%

African Barrick Gold posted Thursday a 9% drop in annual production despite a pick-up in mining in the fourth-quarter.

The miner, a division of the world's largest gold producer Barrick Gold Corp (TSX:ABX),  has suffered from three consecutive years of declining gold production, but expects to turn around its operations after launching an operational evaluation this year.

The review aims at creating an organizational structure more suited to its asset base, said the Tanzania-focused gold firm.

Full-year sales of gold fell 13% to 609 252 oz., compared with the 699,539 oz. sold in 2011.

However, fourth-quarter output rose 13% year-on-year and 22% quarter-on-quarter thanks to improved throughput at the group’s Buzwagi operation and increased head grade at the North Mara and Buzwagi mines.

African Barrick reported gold production of 180,684 ounces and sales of 159,585 ounces in the three months to the end of December 2012.

CEO Greg Hawkins said full-year cash costs per ounce sold were expected to be in line with guidance of between $900/oz. to $950/oz.