DRDGold , South Africa's fourth largest gold producer, said on Monday its headline earnings more than doubled as it lifted output during a period when the gold price steadily advanced.

The group said its headline earnings per share for the year ended June 30 rose 115 percent to 28 cents. Headline earnings are the main profit measure in South Africa that strip out certain one-off items.

The group suspended financial assistance to its troubled Blyvoor mine in June, which it is trying to sell to a Chinese investor.

Blyvoor has been fully impaired in the year under review, which of course has a once off, non-cash impact on profit. Headline earnings per share is not affected by this accounting adjustment, the group said.

Gold production declined six percent in the fourth quarter to 63,000 ounces but rose 10 percent for the financial year to just over 265,000 ounces.

Production was helped by the fact that the group recorded its second fatality free quarter in succession. Work stoppages related to safety often curb production on the country's mines.

When production is up with the gold price where it was over the period you are bound to have a favourable impact on earnings, said David Davis, a gold mining analyst at SBG Securities.

Cash operating costs for the year were eight percent higher mainly because of higher power rates.