Kumba's profit has fallen. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi.

Johannesburg - Kumba Iron Ore, owner of Africa’s largest iron-ore mine, said first-half profit will slide by as much as 19 percent after prices of the steelmaking ingredient fell.

Profit excluding one-time items will probably decline to a range of 19.50 rand to 21.50 rand a share in the six months through June from 24.13 rand a year earlier, the Pretoria-based unit of Anglo American said in a statement.

The mean profit estimate of four analysts polled by Bloomberg was 24.03 rand a share.

“The decrease in earnings is largely attributable to a decrease in export iron ore price,” Kumba said.

Iron ore prices last month plummeted to the lowest levels since 2012 amid a surge in production and weakening Chinese demand growth.

Kumba plans to almost double total production by 2030, with new sites in western and central Africa potentially accounting for more than 20 percent of volumes.

Benchmark ore with 62 percent iron content delivered to the Chinese port of Tianjin gained 0.3 percent to $96.90 a dry ton today, pairing losses since the beginning of the year to 28 percent, according to The Steel Index.

Kumba will report earnings on July 22.

The shares were unchanged at 344 rand at 1:12 p.m. in Johannesburg, erasing earlier gains of as much as 1 percent. - Bloomberg News