ELKO — Barrick Gold Corp. on Thursday announced a 35 percent increase in net earnings in the second quarter, attributing the surge to higher gold and copper prices.

Net earnings totaled $1.2 billion, or $1.16 per share, from $859 million, or 87 cents per share, in the 2010 quarter, while adjusted net earnings were at $1.1 billion, or $1.12 per share, up 36 percent from the $824 million, or 84 cents per share, profit in the 2010 quarter.

The average realized gold price in the second quarter was $1,513 per ounce, which Barrick Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Jamie Sokalsky said was a record. The price since the quarter ended June 30 is up roughly $100. The average realized price in the 2010 quarter was $1,205 an ounce.

“Gold still has plenty of upside potential,” he said in a teleconference.

The closing spot price Thursday on the New York Mercantile Exchange was $1,617.20 per ounce, up $3.10.

Gold production rose to 1.98 million ounces in the quarter for the world’s largest gold producer, compared with 1.94 million ounces in the 2010 quarter, and total cash costs were $445 per ounce in this year’s quarter, compared with total cash costs of $401 last year.

The good news on earnings and production was tempered, however, with the word that costs are rising for projects already under construction, including for oil, steel and labor, according to Barrick President and Chief Executive Officer Aaron Regent.

“Operationally and financially we had a solid quarter, but the increased capital costs at our projects has been a challenge,” he said.

Barrick share prices closed Thursday down 37 cents at $48.17.

The North American region’s production was ahead of expectations, according to Barrick’s report, providing 902,000 ounces in the second quarter, and Barrick’s Cortez Mine in Lander County contributed the most gold  in the second quarter.

Cortez’s production of 419,000 ounces was up from 294,000 ounces in the second quarter of last year, while total cash costs at Cortez were down to $220 per ounce from $234 per ounce in the 2010 quarter.

According to the earnings report, the Goldstrike Mine north of Carlin produced 299,000 ounces of gold in the quarter, up slightly from 297,000 ounces in the 2010 quarter, while total cash costs were down slightly to $511 per ounce from $517 per ounce in the second quarter of last year.

Barrick continues to estimate gold production of 7.6 million to 8 million ounces this year and between 455 million and 475 million pounds of copper, including from Lumwana, the copper mine in Zambia acquired with the purchase of Equinox Minerals in July.

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