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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 08:04 GMT
Exchange rates hit Anglo profits
Gold bar
Anglo's gold production is set to grow sharply this year
Mining giant Anglo American has seen profits slip as the soaring value of key currencies knocked almost $600m off its bottom line.

The firm said it earned $1.69bn (890m) in 2003, slightly ahead of expectations but down 4% on the year before.

The culprit for the falling profits was the rise of both the South African rand and the Australian dollar against the weakening US dollar.

Most of Anglo's costs are incurred in the two currencies.

Rising prices

Despite the currency problems - which cost the firm $578m - Anglo said it had managed to find cost savings of $335m in 2003, improving on the $200m it had aimed for.

And it said rising commodity prices in 2004 - the first significant price turnaround in close on two decades - would offset its currency problems.

Sales in 2003 had shown a solid 22% rise to almost $25bn, Anglo said, driven largely by demand for diamonds, platinum and paper.

As for profits, however, both diamonds and gold were hit hard by the currency issue, as well as by sliding quality of ore in Malian mines, the firm said.

Gold production should grow sharply in 2004, however, as Anglo completes its acquisition of Ghana's Ashanti Goldfields.

The firm won a fiercely contested takeover battle with Randgold in 2003.

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