* Q4 EPS $0.31, vs year-before $0.15
* Gold production rises 82 pct as new mines opened
* Sees first gold at Meadowbank mine this month (In U.S. dollars, unless noted)
TORONTO, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) said on Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit more than doubled, as gold prices soared while production was boosted by the opening of three new mines.
The Canadian gold miner earned $47.9 million, or 31 cents a share, in the quarter ended Dec. 31. That compared with a year-before profit of $21.9 million, or 15 cents a share.
Stripping out several one-time items, including a $7.8 million currency translation loss, Agnico earned 38 cents per share.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S had expected, on average, a profit of 26 cents a share, before exceptional items.
Gold production climbed 82 percent to 163,276 ounces, as the company opened three new mines in Quebec, Finland, and Mexico. Average realized gold prices leapt to $1,153 an ounce from $789.
Once a one-mine operation, Agnico has opened four mines in the past two years and expects to begin producing at the Meadowbank mine in the Canadian arctic territory of Nunavut this year.
The company said it expects to pour its first gold at Meadowbank near the end of the month. It also said capital spending during 2010 should total about $478 million.
$1=$1.05 Canadian Reporting by Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson