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Africa Barrick Gold’s Tulawaka mine in northwest Tanzania in Biharamulo district of the Kagera region.

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African Barrick Gold PLC swung to a big loss in the fourth quarter as a major increase in its cost of sales more than offset slightly higher revenue.

The company, majority owned by Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp., says the net loss in the three months ended Dec. 31 was just under $46-million (U.S.) or 8.5 cents per share.

That compared with a year-earlier profit of $55.1-million or 12.8 cents per share.

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Revenue rose to $287.9-million from $285.2-million.

The company reported its cost of sales rose to $217.8-million in the quarter compared with $177.5-million in the 2011 period.

It also took a $44.5-million impairment charge, versus none in the year-earlier period.

On an adjusted basis, net earnings were $11.3-million or 2.8 cents per share in the quarter, down from $52.7-million or 12.8 cents per share.

For the full year, African Barrick posted a much-diminished net profit of $48.2-million, or 14.5 cents per share (including an $11.3-million loss attributed to non-controlling interests) on revenue of $1.08-billion. That was down from a 2011 net profit of $284.8-million or 67 cents per share on revenue of $1.22-billion.

"As we progress through 2013, we are focused on reducing our cost base from current levels to ensure the business returns to delivering appropriate levels of free cash flow," African Barrick chief executive officer Greg Hawkins said in remarks accompanying the results.

"Cash flow generation and improving returns from our assets form a key part of our operational review and we will update on our progress throughout the course of the year."

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The company said it expects to produce between 540,000 and 600,000 ounces of gold in 2013 at total cash costs, including royalties, of between $925 and $975 per ounce sold.

Gold production in 2012 was 626,212 ounces at a cash cost of $949 per ounce sold.

African Barrick is Tanzania's largest gold producer and one of the five largest gold producers in Africa, but has been struggling recently with higher costs and security issues as some of its operations.

Talks aimed at the potential sale of African Barrick Gold to a Chinese company ended last month without a deal.

Parent Barrick Gold owns and operates gold mines in Canada, the United States, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Australia and Papua New Guinea.

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