Gold miner Anglo Asian is to declare its maiden dividend nearly 10 years after it began mining in Azerbaijan and 13 years after listing on London’s Aim market.
The company, which has two open pits and an underground mine in the central Asian country, has been on the turnaround trail for the last four years after nearly being overwhelmed by a $50m debt burden.
Bill Morgan, chief financial officer, said the company was now in “rude financial health” and was committed to paying regular dividends in future after engineering a “remarkable turnaround”.
“Our share price has been up and down but this is very good to be able to say to investors you’re now going to get some return,” he said. “It shows we’ve got a lot of confidence in the future.”
Anglo Asian claims it has “first mover” advantage in Azerbaijan as it is one of just two miners operating in the country, which is looking to diversify away from a reliance on oil and gas exports.
Mr Morgan said the company had changed its fortunes by building a more efficient processing plant that allowed it to boost production of copper, a metal that is in high demand but was previously treated as a mere byproduct of gold.
Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled since the death of his father in 2003, was criticised for making his wife vice president last year. But Mr Morgan said the country was a “very stable” jurisdiction to work in compared to other parts of the developed world.
Earlier this week Anglo Asian announced its Gedabek open pit had 1m ounces of gold in reserve, extending its life for another six years. The company will pay an interim dividend of 3 US cents a share, for a total payout of $3.4m. Its largest investor is its chief executive and founder Reza Vaziri, with a 16pc stake.
Mr Morgan said the company had embarked on a three-year exploration programme to find more resources at its existing sites. “It’s fair to say the best place to find gold is near another gold mine,” he said.
Anglo Asian shares have risen 68pc this year, to 54p.
Separately, FTSE 100 mining giant BHP Billiton announced that boss Andrew Mackenzie would receive a $100,000 pay rise this year, with a total pay package of $4.66m. Documents lodged at the Australian Securities Exchange also revealed that the company would ask shareholders to vote on a change of name to BHP Group. The miner, which is dual listed in London and Sydney, dropped “Billiton” from its branding last year, but was still named BHP Billiton for legal purposes.