Gold Fields Limited (NYSE: GFI), the world's fourth largest gold miner, said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 70 percent, beating Wall Street's expectations. But the Johannesburg, South Africa-based miner also said its extraction capacity in 2012 will be at the lower end of its previously stated range.

In U.S. dollar terms, the company reported profit of $268 million, compared to $158 million in the same period last year. Excluding special items, earnings were $279 million, or 39 cents per share, a rise from $165 million, or 23 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting earnings in the range of 32 cents per share.

Revenue was $1.39 billion, compared to $1.15 billion last year. The rise was completely due to an increase in the price of gold, as production slipped 0.36 percent.

Decline in production has been an issue for South African gold miners this year. And it seemed to be confirmed in an interview by company CEO Nick Holland with Bloomberg after earnings were released.

Instead of being somewhere in the range, we think now we're going to be at the bottom of the range, Holland said told the news network, noting the company expected to extract 3.5 billion ounces of gold this year.

Previous estimates had been pegged at 3.5 to 3.7 billion ounces

Shares of Gold Fields Limited saw some tenuous gains in the South African markets and lost ground in European electronic trading after results were announced. Interestingly, American depositary shares rallied in the U.S. New York-listed shares recently traded $12.19, up 40 cents, or 3.39 percent from the previous day's close.