Australia’s largest gold miner has, however, maintained its full year production guidance, and is expected to benefit from a surge in gold prices since December.
The miner also said it has advanced feasibility work for developing the Wafi-Golpu mine in Papua New Guinea, and will solve seepage issues at its Lihir mine in the country for nearly $US1 billion (K3bn) less than previously estimated.
The company said net profit for the six months ended December 31 fell to $US81 million (K246.201 million), from $US180 million (K547.114 million) a year earlier.
“Newcrest has delivered a strong financial result in a lower gold and copper price environment,” chief executive officer Sandeep Biswas said, adding their focus was on maintaining strong capital discipline and maximising cashflow from operations.
Newcrest’s numbers were primarily hit by volatile gold prices, which stayed mostly lower through the second half of 2015.
A lower Australian dollar also impacted the results of Newcrest, which has switched to US dollar reporting since the start of the current fiscal year to be in line with global peers.
Gold production volumes were affected by a five-week shutdown of a mill at its Cadia gold and copper mine in NSW, which is also its highest-margin operation.
Two fatalities earlier in the half year had also shut operations at Cadia and at Hidden Valley in PNG.
But the company was able to make up volumes through increased output at Lihir and at Telfer in Western Australia.
Gold production for the half year rose six per cent to 1.204 million ounces, although copper production fell 23 per cent to 39,918 tonnes.
The miner said it lowered costs by five per cent during the period to $US770 (K2340.43) per ounce.
“Our key focus remains on improving our margins,” Biswas told reporters.
The miner said a pre-feasibility study at Lihir showed it could build a seepage barrier for $US215 million (K653.5m), instead of $1.3 billion (K3.95bn) estimated earlier.
Newcrest has maintained its forecast for full year gold production of between 2.4-2.6 million ounces and copper production to fall to between 80,000 and 90,000 tonnes. – AAP