BAKU, April 16 (Reuters) - Azerbaijan’s top gold producer, Anglo Asian Mining, said on Monday it had increased its gold production by 49 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018 to 16,479 ounces from 11,078 ounces in the same period last year.
The London-listed firm said its total production of gold-equvivalent ounces (GEO) rose by 26 percent to 18,307 GEO from 14,577 GEO.
The company said copper production declined to 255 tonnes from 606 tonnes in January-March 2017, and silver output rose to 40,583 ounces from 39,369 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.
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 quarter of 2018 totalled 14,956 ounces at an average price of $1,328 per ounce, up from 8,283 ounces sold in January-March 2017 at an average of $1,220 per ounce.
Net debt totalled $10.4 million by 31 March, down from $18.3 million at the end of 2017.
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. (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by David Evans)