BAKU, July 17 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan’s top gold producer, Anglo Asian Mining, said on Tuesday it had increased its gold production by 43 percent year-on-year in the first half of 2018 to 33,255 ounces from 23,218 ounces in the same period last year.
The London-listed firm said its total production of gold-equivalent ounces (GEO) rose by 22 percent to 37,349 GEO from 30,561 GEO.
Gold is produced at Gedabek and other Azeri mines under a production venture in which Anglo Asian holds 51 percent and the state the remainder.
The company said copper production declined to 587 tonnes from 1,322 tonnes in January-June 2017, and silver output declined to 84,785 ounces from 85,087 ounces.
Anglo Asian said in February its gold output would rise to 64,000-70,000 ounces in 2018, from 59,617 ounces last year, and it expected its total metal production to increase to 78,000-84,000 GEO in 2018, from 71,461 GEO last year.
The company said on Tuesday it was “well positioned to achieve forecast production for 2018 of between 78,000 to 84,000 GEO.”
Anglo Asian began production at Gedabek, the bigger of two mines it operates, in July 2009 with plans to extract 22 tonnes of gold. It eventually plans to develop seven mines in western Azerbaijan, including Gedabek, with estimated gold reserves of 430 tonnes in total.
The company started a significant exploration programme at the end of 2016 after making a new gold discovery at Ugur, 3 km (2 miles) from its Gedabek processing facilities.
Gold bullion sales in the first half of 2018 totalled 25,778 ounces at an average price of $1,319 per ounce, up from 15,689 ounces sold in January-June 2017 at an average of $1,238 per ounce.
Net debt totalled $2.9 million by June 30, down from $10.4 million at the end of the first quarter of 2018 and $18.3 million at the end of 2017.
Reporting by Margarita Antidze; editing by Alexandra Hudson