(Compares with estimates, adds industry background, costs and production)
Feb 21 (Reuters) - U.S. gold miner Newmont Mining Corp beat analysts' estimates for quarterly profit on Thursday, boosted by higher gold production in its Colorado and Ghana mines and lower costs.
The company is set to overtake Barrick Gold Corp as the world's largest gold producer following its acquisition of rival Goldcorp Inc, which is expected to close in the second quarter.
Newmont's gold production rose nearly 8 percent to 1.44 million ounces in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, while its all-in sustaining costs to produce an ounce of gold fell to $835 from $910.
This helped cushion the impact of a 3 percent drop in average realized gold prices to $1,233 per ounce.
Newmont, which operates mines in the Americas, Africa and Australia, said copper production was largely flat at 11,000 tonnes.
The company's net income attributable to shareholders was $2 million in the fourth quarter (reut.rs/2TVuMea) ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of $542 million a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Newmont earned 40 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 25 cents, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by John Benny and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel and Sriraj Kalluvila)