UPDATE 1-AngloGold Ashanti sees strong cash position, CEO search "in progress"

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Dec 18 (Reuters) - AngloGold Ashanti said on Friday costs and production are on track to meet its guidance, and expects the 2020 free cash flow generation to be the strongest in almost a decade, enabling the gold miner to double the dividend payout ratio.

Gold miners globally have reaped the rewards of a surge in gold prices this year as investors rushed to buy the precious metal seen as a safe-haven asset in turbulent times.

The miner said selling its South African mines to Harmony Gold would drive its Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions down by 45%. AngloGold Ashanti will set emissions targets in the second half of 2021, it said.

The miner, which has operations in Tanzania, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Mali, Argentina, Australia, and Colombia, said its search for a new CEO is “in progress” with the board considering both internal and external candidates.

Former CEO Kelvin Dushnisky announced in July that he would step down, after just two years in the role.

AngloGold Ashanti said the phase 2 of redevelopment of its Obuasi mine in Ghana is 82% complete and it plans to make investment decisions on its two Colombian projects in 2021.

The miner also said it has strengthened the balance sheet by reducing borrowings, increasing liquidity and extending the average maturity of its debt. (Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Uttaresh.V)