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Johannesburg - Harmony Gold, South Africa’s third largest gold producer, said on Tuesday in an operational update for the nine months ended March that quarter-on-quarter gold production was 7 percent lower, mainly due to the slow start-up after the December holidays.

The March quarter is traditionally a difficult production quarter due to the slow start-up after the festive season. The slow ramp up after the Christmas holidays also impacted South African production at Anglogold Ashanti (AGA), the world’s third largest gold producer.

Peter Steenkamp, the chief executive of Harmony, said the company expects to meet its production target this year.

Steenkamp said the annual gold production guidance of 1.05 million ounces was well in reach, with the year to date production at 812 000 ounces at a cash operating cost of R439 669 a kilogram or US$996 an ounce.

AngloGold Ashanti said on Monday that its local operations were hit by the slow ramp up after the Christmas break, fractured ground in some areas and high costs among others.