Gold sales for the quarter increased by 12% from the previous quarter due to an 8% increase in attributable gold production for the quarter and a 4% increase in the received gold price. The average gold price received for the quarter was US$1 159/oz, compared to US$1 110/oz in the previous quarter. The movement from the corresponding quarter in 2009 is due to a 31% increase in the average gold price received from the corresponding quarter last year (US$883/oz), partially offset by a 15% decrease in attributable ounces produced in the current quarter compared to the third quarter of 2009.
Total cash costs of US$73.6 million increased by 18% from the June 2010 quarter and by 8% from the September 2009 quarter. The increase is mainly the result of stockpile adjustments at Loulo. During the June 2010 quarter, the lower tonnes processed at Loulo resulted in an increase in stockpiles with a corresponding adjustment to total cash costs. With the 16% increase in tonnes processed during the current quarter compared to the previous quarter, the adjustment to stockpiles at Loulo was significantly smaller during the current quarter.
The head grade at Loulo in the current quarter decreased by 9% from the June 2010 quarter and by 24% from the corresponding quarter. As a result of the higher total cash costs explained above, despite an increase in ounces produced following increased throughput at Loulo, total cash costs per ounce increased by 9% compared to the June 2010 quarter, and by 27% compared to the prior year corresponding quarter, following this drop in grade.
Profit from mining activity increased by 4% from the June 2010 quarter and by 21% when compared to the corresponding quarter in the prior year, mainly due to increased gold sales, offset by the increased cash costs as explained above.
Exploration and corporate expenditure was 17% higher than the previous quarter but decreased by 9% from the September 2009 quarter. This was mainly due to an increase in share based payments following a long term share award having been made to senior management during the current quarter. The drop in expenditure compared to the corresponding quarter in 2009 is as a result of significant exploration expenditure incurred during that quarter following accelerated drilling work at Massawa and Gounkoto, which expenditure is now being capitalised.
Profit for the quarter was US$28.2 million, an increase of 108% from the corresponding quarter in 2009 and a decrease of 23% from the previous quarter. The decrease from the prior quarter is mainly the result of the Auction Rate Securities (ARS) write back of US$13 million that was booked in the June 2010 quarter, following the successful settlement reached in respect of this matter. Adjusted for this write back, profit for the quarter was 20% higher than the previous quarter.
Other income of US$8.3 million in the current quarter includes a gain of US$5.4 million on the sale of a further 5 million shares held in Volta Resources which were acquired in the prior year as part of the sale of the Kiaka project in Burkina Faso. The previous quarter included a gain of US$6.3 million in respect of the sale of 5.4 million Volta Resources shares. Other income also includes operational exchange gains of US$1.9 million compared to the operational exchange losses of US$3.3 million incurred during the June 2010 quarter. This is due to the settling of invoices in currencies other than US Dollar, as well as the translation of balances denominated in currencies such as Rand, Canadian Dollar and Euro to the closing US Dollar rate.
Gold sales for the nine months ended 30 September 2010 increased by 16% compared to the nine months ended 30 September 2009. This was due to a 25% increase in the average gold price received from US$842/oz for the nine months ended 30 September 2009 to an average price of US$1 052/oz for the nine months ended 30 September 2010, and partially offset by a drop in attributable production.
Profit from mining increased by 16% during the nine months ended 30 September 2010 compared to the prior year corresponding period, following the increase in gold sales, partially offset by higher production costs.