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Randgold produces record gold as profit stung by price

LONDON (Reuters) - Randgold Resources produced a record amount of gold last year, but a lower price meant earnings were below analyst expectations, the Africa-focused miner said on Monday.

The London-listed firm, with gold mines in Ivory Coast and Mali, said it expected to produce in excess of 1 million ounces this year - meeting one of the miner's long-term targets.

Randgold posted profit of $325.7 million on revenue of $1.27 billion for 2013, below a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of analysts, which estimated profit of $365 million from revenue of $1.2 billion.

The miner said a 17 percent fall in the average gold price had dented its profit, but that a 3 percent reduction in cash costs for the year had offset the lower price.

Randgold produced 910,373 ounces of gold last year, up 15 percent on the previous year.

Production in 2014 is expected to increase by 25-30 percent, on the back of increasing grades at the Loulo-Gounkoto complex and output from its new Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company said.

Kibali started production in September and is expected to make an important contribution to the company's production and earnings in its first full year in action.

Randgold said it would spend $60 million on exploration at a time when other miners are cutting back heavily to try and get their costs under control. Exploration is a priority, Chief Executive Mark Bristow said, as it "differentiated Randgold from the rest of the gold mining industry."

Randgold said it was also on the look out for acquisitions or joint ventures as the lower gold price puts companies under stress, throwing up potential opportunities.