By James Macharia
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Gold Fields, the world's No. 4 gold producer, more than doubled adjusted headline earnings per share for its third quarter after gold prices rose, sending its shares more than 4 percent higher.
Gold Fields, the second-biggest gold producer in Africa, said earnings rose after it boosted output and trimmed costs due to lower raw material prices, and the price of gold averaged $908 per ounce, up 14 percent on the December quarter.
Gold Fields forecast a 3 percent rise in output to 900,000 ounces in the fourth quarter to end-June, short of its own target of 1 million ounces a quarter, which it set last year.
"One million ounces a quarter is still a target, but I cannot say when we will get to this," Nick Holland, Gold Fields chief executive officer, told a media briefing.
Holland said his company was exploring a rich vein of projects, and forecast that in three to four years, Gold Fields would produce 5 million ounces. The company has said it will hit its short-term run rate target of 4 million ounces a year soon.
He said a big contribution could come from its South Deep mine in South Africa, which is expected to produce 800,000 ounces a year by 2014 from some 200,000 ounces presently, after an injection of some $850 million from the group's own coffers.
"We've made cash this quarter," Holland said.
"We have seen a more benign cost scenario around the world as inflation comes down. In the quarters that follow, I expect us to continue increasing production."
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