(Reuters) - Harmony Gold, the world's fifth-largest gold producer, is not planning to sell its Joel mine in South Africa, the Business Day newspaper reported on Thursday.

The paper quoted Harmony chief executive officer Graham Briggs as saying the mine had a reasonable life left and was profitable.

This is a prized asset and it is not for sale, Briggs was quoted as saying.

The paper said there was a rumour in the market that Wits Gold, a South African gold and uranium exploration company, wanted to buy the Joel operations.

Wits Gold issued a cautionary note on Nov. 16 that it was in talks that may affect its shares.

Briggs said he was more open to considering options on how to unlock value from Harmony's Evander operations, which needed a couple of billion rand to develop more gold resources and extend the life of the mine, according to the paper.

Harmony also said last month that it had received a number of enquiries and proposals from parties interested in acquiring its assets in Papua New Guinea, but it was not ready to sell.