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UPDATE 1-South African miner Harmony Gold's H1 profit rises 49 pct

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(Adds production details, Moab Khotsong mining rights, CEO quote)

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 13 (Reuters) - South African miner Harmony Gold's half-year profit rose 49 percent, boosted by improved performance at its South African operations, the firm said on Tuesday.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main profit measure in South Africa that strips out certain one-off items, rose to 2.24 rand per share ($0.19) for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2017 from 1.50 rand per share ($0.13) in the previous period.

The figure was in line with what the firm previously flagged to the market.

The group, which has operations in South Africa and Papua New Guinea, saw gold production for the half-year period tick up to 560,003 ounces compared to 553,862 ounces in the previous period.

Gold production form its South African operations was up 6 percent at 538,719 ounces.

Harmony said the government has given its consent to mine at its newly acquired Moab Khotsong mine in the north of the country.

"The approval confirms government's support of the transaction which will enhance the quality of our asset portfolio and increase our profit margins," said Chief Executive Officer Peter Steenkamp. Harmony said in December it would acquire the mine from AngloGold Ashanti for $300 million to boost its operational cash flow by 60 percent and provide "substantial cost savings". (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

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