* Q4 production 179,730 ozs, up 9 pct Q/Q, down 16 pct Y/Y
* Annual output 700,934 ozs, misses revised target
* Higher gold sales, prices in 2010 to boost earnings
LONDON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - African Barrick Gold ABGL.L said fourth-quarter output rose from the preceding quarter as its new Buzwagi mine overcame production difficulties by mid-November, but missed its overall output target for the year.
It produced 179,730 ounces of gold in the fourth quarter, a 9 percent improvement on the third quarter but a 16 percent drop from the year earlier.
Production for the full year was 700,934 ounces. In October, the group cut its 2010 output target for the second time in three months to 716,000 ounces after uncovering fuel theft at its Buzwagi mine in Tanzania. [ID:nLDE69D084]
The company, a unit of the world’s biggest gold producer, Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO, is the first of the London-listed gold miners to announce production figures for the year.
Rivals Randgold Resources RRS.L, Petropavlovsk POG.L and Centamin Egypt CEY.L CEE.TO all encountered production problems last year, resulting in the top four biggest pure gold producers in London reducing their 2010 targets.
However, African Barrick’s earnings and cash flow are expected to be boosted by a 6 percent rise in 2010 gold sales and a 27 percent jump in the price it receives for its gold.
African Barrick will release guidance for 2011 output, which it expected to be boosted by higher production from Buzwagi, alongside full-year results in February.
Reporting by Julie Crust; editing by Paul Sandle