April 12, 2012 / 3:58 PM / in 6 years

Eldorado sees rapid growth in gold output, shares jump

(Reuters) - Eldorado Gold Corp (ELD.TO), the Canadian miner that recently acquired European Goldfields, expects its annual gold production to touch 1.7 million ounces within five years as it brings new mines into production.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company said on Thursday it plans to commission five new mines over the next few years, increasing its global footprint to 12 operations by 2016.

“Eldorado plans on expanding gold production by roughly 160 percent over the next five years, making it one of the fastest growing emerging senior gold producers globally,” Chief Executive Paul Wright said in a statement.

The company said it expects development capital costs of $1.95 billion over the period and average operating costs, after factoring in by-product credits, of $350 an ounce.

“With overall production, cash cost and development capital expenditure projections essentially in line with our estimates, Eldorado appears well positioned for growth at relatively low operating costs versus its peer group,” Raymond James analyst Brad Humphrey said in a note to clients.

Shares of the company were among the biggest gainers on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon, rising 9.1 percent to C$14.08. Its New York-listed shares were up 10.7 percent at $14.22 by 1.20 p.m. (1720 GMT)

On a conference call, Wright said production from Eldorado’s mines in the first quarter was slightly better than anticipated, with costs coming in a little below expectations.

The company has yet to report results for the first quarter ended March 31.

Eldorado, which owns operations in China, Turkey, Greece and Brazil, produced nearly 660,000 ounces of gold in 2011. Its main development projects are the Perama Hill, Olympias and Skouries mines in Greece, and Certej in Romania.

“Eldorado intends to invest over $1.0 billion in Greece over the next several years in new mine development and related infrastructure,” said Wright, adding that the cash injection would help drive jobs growth in the nation where a sovereign debt crisis and austerity measures have hurt the labor market.

Latest data showed that Greece’s jobless rate rose to a record 21.8 percent in January, with youth being the hardest hit. Unemployment in the 15-24 age bracket was at 50.8 percent.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

Reporting By Euan Rocha; Editing by Peter Galloway

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