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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Diamonds prop up Anglo profits
South African miners

Soaring diamond sales have propped up profits at mining giant Anglo American, despite some damage from the soaring South African rand.

The company said its 45% stake in diamond miner De Beers provided 30% of its $856m (531m) profits for the first six months of 2003, a figure up 2% on the previous year.

Investors had feared a fall, fuelled by the 18% rise in the rand over the year so far.

But Anglo was cautious about the future, warning that the continuing strength of the currency would make life difficult, and adding that boosting earnings from platinum, gold and coal mining remained a challenge.

On the hunt

Even so, the company - the third biggest mining operation in the world - is pushing ahead with its acquisition trail.

Anglo subsidiary AngloGold is bidding $1.1bn (680m) for Ghana's Ashanti Goldfields in a deal which could have it snapping at the heels of world number one Newmont.

Lonmin, the London-listed miner which bought 32% of Ashanti as part of a 1999 privatisation and rescue package, has agreed to the offer.

That bid now looks likely to be contested by a rival offer from another London-listed firm, Randgold, according to the Reuters news agency.

The Ghanaian government is understood to be unhappy with AngloGold's offer, and could push its 17% stake in Ashanti in a different direction.

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