Lihir Gold Mine
Lihir Gold Mine Newcrest Mining

Newcrest Mining Ltd., Australia's largest gold and copper mining company, said Friday profits in the second half of last year shot up 50 percent to a record level on sharply higher gold and copper prices.

Newcrest posted a statutory profit of $659 million (Australian), or 86 cents per share, compared with profit in the year-earlier period of $438 million, or 65 cents per share.

Excluding one-time items, such as the sale of assets in Queensland, the company earned $611 million compared with $523 million in the first half of 2010.

Revenue rose 19 percent to $2.34 billion.

The Melbourne-based miner said it was boosting its dividend 20 percent to 12 cents per share. The dividend will be payable on April 17 to shareholder of record on March 23.

The higher gold price in the current period has driven the 21 percent increase in gold revenue. Increased copper sales volumes more than offset the lower realised copper price to increase copper revenue by four percent, Newcrest said in a statement. Silver revenue has also increased following large increases in both silver price and silver sales volumes.

Consistent with strategy, gold revenue continues to dominate Newcrest's activities, accounting for 85 percent of total sales revenue, up from 83 percent in 2010.

The cost of sales increased by 22 percent, reflecting the inclusion of Lihir and Bonikro for a full six months, a higher level of maintenance and mining activity in the period, and industry wide cost pressures in relation to energy, fuel, labor and maintenance costs, the company said.