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SouthGobi posts US$103 million loss for 2012 as mine shutdown cuts revenue 70%

HONG KONG – SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (TSX:SGQ) has reported a US$51.8-million net loss in the fourth quarter, bringing the coal producer’s total loss last year to US$103 million.

The Toronto and Hong Kong-listed company, which reports in U.S. currency, shut down its main mining operation in Mongolia from last June until work resumed last week.

As a result, revenue in the second half of last year was limited to the sale of stockpiles and fell to US$1.2 million in the fourth quarter and to $53.1 million for all of 2012. That was down from US$51 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 and $179 million for all of 2011.

The 2012 fourth-quarter net loss was 28 cents per share on a diluted basis and compared with a net loss of US$18.9 million or 14 cents per share in the three months ended Dec. 31, 2011.

Full-year loss attributable to SouthGobi equity holders was 63 cents per diluted share in 2012 and 19 cents per share in 2011.

Adjusted net loss in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $14.9 million, compared with a $1.63-million adjusted net loss the fourth quarter of 2011.

The company stopped production at the Ovoot Tolgoi mine in June 2012 due to weak market conditions and regulatory issues.

The halt also came amid a controversial bid that would have seen a Chinese company buy a controlling stake in SouthGobi from Turquise Hill Resources (TSX:TRQ), a subsidiary of Rio Tinto PLC, formerly known as Ivanhoe Mines.

Aluminum Corporation of China Ltd. (Chalco) and Turquoise Hill cancelled their deal in September amid concerns in Mongolia about Chinese ownership of the company.

SouthGobi said Friday that it would resume operations “in a conservative and therefore cost-effective, cash-positive and sustainable manner.”

“While a certain amount of volatility remains in the coal markets, signs of improvement justify this restart of operations,” it said in a statement.