UPDATE 1-AngloGold Ashanti forecasts earnings to almost triple as gold prices surge

(Adds production outlook, background)

Feb 9 (Reuters) - South Africa’s AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it expected annual earnings to almost triple, boosted by a surge in gold prices during 2020 as investors rushed to buy the precious metal seen as a safe-haven asset in turbulent times.

The gold miner expects to report a headline earnings per share between 229 cents and 247 cents for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020, compared with 91 cents reported a year earlier, it said.

A surge in prices of precious metals, including gold’s climb above $2,000 an ounce early last year, had offered miners a lifeline after production disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the miner, present in many African countries along with Argentina, Australia, and Colombia, expects a 7% fall in its annual gold production, mainly due to the sale of its South African operations and pandemic-induced disruptions.

Reporting by Indranil Sarkar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V