* AngloGold employs about 6,000 people in South Africa
* Restructuring led to South African job cuts last year
* Company to keep primary Johannesburg listing for now (Adds detail, CEO comments, adds shares)
By Tanisha Heiberg
JOHANNESBURG, May 9 (Reuters) - AngloGold Ashanti Ltd will review divestment options for its Mponeng mine and other South African assets to focus on higher returns elsewhere, the South African gold miner said on Thursday.
AngloGold employs around 6,000 people in South Africa where mining companies have faced volatile labour relations, rising costs, regulatory disruptions and technical issues.
“As we look at the other opportunities in our portfolio, in the universe of limited capital the other options in the portfolio present a higher return,” Chief Executive Officer Kelvin Dushnisky said during a conference call.
Dushnisky, who did not say how much they expected to raise from asset sales, said proceeds would be used to cut debt, reinvest in the business and return value to shareholders.
“We will be looking for companies such that we can place the assets in strong hands, in financial and technical capabilities,” said Dushnisky, without giving a timeline.
The firm, which cut about 2,000 jobs in South Africa last year as part of its restructuring, said it needed additional capital investment at its Mponeng mine to extend its lifespan beyond eight years, but said those funds could be better invested elsewhere.
Its South African assets include Mponeng mine, the world’s deepest gold mine, and a surface rock dump processing business and a mine waste retreatment operation.
“We believe that under the right ownership, our South African assets offer a compelling long-term value proposition that may allow for an extension to Mponeng Mine’s current life,” Dushnisky said.
AngloGold was keeping its primary listing in Johannesburg for now but would not rule out shifting its primary listing to another international exchange in future, Dushnisky said, adding: “We don’t take anything off the table.”
The firm’s first-quarter gold output fell 9 percent to 752,000 ounces from 824,000 ounces a year earlier hit by regulatory stoppages at its Brazilian operations, an unfavourable performance at its Siguiri mine in Guinea and power disruptions and other challenges in South Africa.
State owned utility Eskom, which supplies more than 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity, cut power across the country in February and March as low coal supplies, a severe cash crunch, and failures at ageing power stations curbed supply.
Shares in AngloGold were down 1.3 percent at 168.92 rand by 0853 GMT. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg Editing by Jason Neely and Edmund Blair)