August 11, 2011 / 1:17 PM / in 6 years

UPDATE 1-Iamgold mulls higher div; moving on niobium mine

* CEO says has every intention of raising dividend

* Moving forward on stake sale in niobium mine

* Hopes to announce niobium mine deal by early September

TORONTO, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Iamgold Corp (IMG.TO) is considering further dividend increases, and the gold miner is making headway on plans to sell a portion of its niobium mine, Chief Executive Steve Letwin said on Thursday.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve increased the dividend over 200 percent, and I have every intention of increasing it further,” said Letwin, who joined Iamgold less than a year ago.

Since his arrival last November, Iamgold has sold its interests in the Tarkwa and Damang gold mines in Ghana and has begun work on spinning out its niobium mine in Quebec.

Iamgold produces about 8 percent of the world’s supply of niobium, a rare metal that is used to harden to steel. The company plans to initially sell a 10 percent or 20 percent stake in the niobium mine. It then plans to reinvest the cash to expand niobium output, before looking at further options to monetize the asset.

“We’ve basically signed five confidentiality agreements (on the niobium mine) and we’ve had five site visits from companies around the world,” Letwin said in an interview with Reuters.

“We hope to be able to announce something by around the end of August or early September. The level of interest in the asset is very high and I‘m very excited with where we are going with the niobium asset,” he said. (Reporting by Euan Rocha; editing by John Wallace)

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