S.Africa's Gold Fields Q4 earnings slightly higher

A Gold Fields Mine company logo is seen outside the South Deep Gold mine
A Gold Fields Mine company logo is seen outside the South Deep Gold mine, near Johannesburg, June 4, 2010. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African bullion producer Gold Fields posted a slight rise in fourth quarter earnings on Thursday as production rose 21 percent on an improvement in its Damang mine in Ghana and the integration of new Australian assets.

Normalised earnings for the quarter to end-December totaled 19 cents per share from 17 cents in the previous three months.

On a year-on-year basis, earnings were down 85 percent, a reflection of the falling gold price, which shed 28 percent in 2013, its biggest loss in three decades.

Gold Fields' normalised earnings are based on new standards by the World Gold Council which look at all costs and most capital expenditures, a company spokesman said.

The company's 21 percent increase in production during the quarter to 598,000 ounces was mostly because Ghana and the new assets in Australia, which added 114,000 ounces of output.

"There has been a significant improvement in Damang's performance. Damang increased its production by 39 per cent from 32,600 ounces in the September 2013 quarter to 45,400 ounces in the December 2013 quarter," the company said.

This is a rare bright spot in Ghana where other companies such as AngloGold Ashanti are battling with loss-making operations.