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History of Gold Fields

Gold Fields has proudly operated in South Africa since 1887, when Cecil John Rhodes and Charles Rudd formed Gold Fields of South Africa. In 1932, the company began mining the mineral-rich West Rand, where it discovered high-yielding gold deposits. A merger between Gold Fields of South Africa and Gencor in 1998 led to the formation of Gold Fields Limited. Today, Gold Fields is a leading global gold mining company that has built on its South African reserves and resources to become a truly global miner, with eight leading mining operations across three continents.

Key dates include the following:



    Gold Fields achieves a notable turnaround in its financial performance as the wide-ranging restructuring of the past two years takes effect with a cash inflow of US$235 million – from an outflow of the same amount in 2013. Gold Fields’ new Australian portfolio achieves its one million ounce production target. The exploration and projects portfolio continues to be trimmed with the sale of Talas in Kyrgyzstan, Yanfolila in Mali and Chucapaca in Peru, amongst others, during the year. The exploration focus shifts to near-mine exploration at the Company’s Australian and Ghanaian mines. A further 1,300 workers are retrenched (mostly at Gold Fields’ Ghanaian mines) to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Company.

  • 2013

    Amid a US$700/oz fall in the gold price during the year, Gold Fields’ wide-ranging restructuring – announced in 2012 – appears prescient. Costs are cut by around US$450 million during 2014 after a number of corporate actions, including the cessation of marginal mining at St Ives, Agnes and Tarwa, the restructuring of corporate and regional offices, the closure of the Project and Exploration division and a 10% reduction in the global workforce. In October Gold Fields announces the acquisition of three Western Australian mines from Barrick Gold for US$270 million – Granny Smith, Darlot and Lawlers. Lawlers is immediately merged with Gold Fields’ Agnew mine. Gold Fields’ Integrated Annual Report continues to win awards, being ranked 1st in the Ernst Young Integrated Reporting Awards amongst others. The Company is also ranked the top SA mining company on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. The US Securities and Exchange Commission announces a regulatory investigation into South Deep’s 2010 Black Economic Empowerment transaction.

  • 2012

    Bought upon by growing investor disenchantment with gold equities CEO Nick Holland announces the need for a re-think of the gold industry model at a presentation to the Melbourne Mining Club in July 2012. In the second half of the year Gold Fields commences the most far-reaching transformation in the Company’s recent history with the aim of shifting its operating model from a focus on production ounces to cash-flow generation. Gold Fields also decides to specialise as a mechanised mining operation with a portfolio of open pit and shallow underground mines in Australia, Ghana and Peru as well as the mechanised South Deep project in South Africa. In November it is announced that the mature, underground Kloof, Driefontein and Beatrix mines in South Africa are unbundled into Sibanye Gold, which is listed separately on the JSE and NYSE in February 2013. Cheryl Carolus takes over as Chair of Gold Fields from Dr Mamphela Ramphele

  • 2011

    Gold Fields buys out minority stakes in its Damang and Tarkwa mines for US$667 million, as well as in its Cerro Corona mine for US$379 million. The company also makes its second down-payment of US$66 million with respect to its option to acquire a 60% interest in the Far Southeast deposit in the Philippines. Meanwhile, an innovative carbon credit project at the Beatrix mine is registered as an official Clean Development Mechanism due to its role in reducing carbon emissions and for its potential generation of clean energy. Gold Fields is awarded first place in the JSE Top 100 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index by the global Carbon Disclosure. Project, whilst the Johannesburg Stock Exchange rated Gold Fields as one of its most consistent performers in its Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index for five years running. The company is also ranked as the top rated South African miner on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index

  • 2010

    The Kloof and Driefontein mines are merged into the Kloof-Driefontein Complex (KDC) to harness management efficiencies, reduce operational overheads and secure the future of both operations. In addition, the South African Department of Mineral Resources approves the South Deep new order mining right. Outside South Africa, Gold Fields enters into option agreements to acquire a 60% interest in the undeveloped gold-copper Far Southeast (FSE) deposit in the Philippines. Dr Mamphela Ramphele becomes the first black Chair of Gold Fields. The company also successfully completes a 10-year, US$1 billion bond offer to international investors. The industry–leading Gold Fields Framework for Sustainable Development is introduced and Gold Fields is ranked joint first in the JSE Top 100 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI)

  • 2009

    Gold Fields and Mvelaphanda Resources successfully complete the final step of a R4.1 billion Black Economic Empowerment transaction initiated in 2004. Gold Fields becomes the first mining group registered as a signatory with the International Cyanide Management Institute to obtain accreditation for all its eligible operations in terms of the International Cyanide Management Code

  • 2008

    Gold Fields suspends all mining activities for a week at its South African operations in response to a request by Eskom to reduce its electricity load – reflecting South Africa’s broader energy infrastructure challenges. In addition, the Arctic Platinum Project in Finland reverts to Gold Fields after North American Palladium Limited declined to follow its rights in terms of a Letter of Intent entered into between the parties

  • 2007

    Gold Fields celebrates its 120th birthday at the Johannesburg Country Club. At the same time, the Choco 10 mine in Venezuela is sold off

  • 2006

    Gold Fields announces a major R26 billion investment in the long-term future of gold mining in South Africa. This is focused on shaft-deepening at Kloof and Driefontein – as well as the R21 billion acquisition of the nearby South Deep mine containing the world’s largest unexploited gold deposit. In Ghana, Gold Fields also announces a US$175 million plan to expand the carbon-in-leach plant and heap leach capacity at Tarkwa. This is with the aim of extending production of 700,000 ounces a year to 2021. In addition, Gold Fields acquires the Choco 10 mine in Venezuela, whilst construction begins on the Cerro Corona mine in Peru. Gold Fields launches its dynamic Business and Leadership Academy in South Africa, elevating ‘people development’ to a core business strategy. Meanwhile a US$5 million sponsorship deal with Ghana’s Black Stars national football team helps propel the side to the second round of the World Cup in Germany

  • 2005

    The High Court rules that an attempted hostile takeover by Harmony Gold has lapsed – and that it is precluded from making any further offers for 12 months. Driefontein marks a world first, having produced 100 million ounces of gold since its opening in 1952

  • 2004

    South Africa celebrates 10 years of true democracy. At the same time, Norilsk of Russia acquires Anglo American’s 20% share in Gold Fields, whilst Black Economic Empowerment group Mvelaphanda Resources acquires a 15% stake – satisfying the first stage of ownership conditions in the Mining Charter. Gold Fields becomes the inaugural member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Socially Responsibility Index. Meanwhile, President Kufuor of Ghana attends the opening of the new carbon-in-leach plant at Tarkwa, which recovers 96% of the gold processed – thus extending the life of the mine by 15 years. During this time, Harmony Gold launches a fiercely-contested hostile take-over bid for Gold Fields

  • 2003

    Gold Fields acquires the Cerro Corona gold-copper porphyry in Peru from Sociedad Minera la Cima SA. In South Africa, the first 10 female trainee miners are awarded their permanent blasting certificates and start full-time shifts at Kloof mine – as part of a broader effort to promote women in mining. In addition, the Living Gold project is launched at Carletonville. The project, which produces roses for export, is funded by Gold Fields and the Industrial Development Corporation as part of a long-term sustainable development strategy

  • 2002

    Gold Fields is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, improving its access to US investors. After years of intensive preparation, Gold Fields’ South African operations are awarded the ISO14001 environmental management certification – the first gold mining company in the world to achieve this award

  • 2001

    Gold Fields acquires the Agnew and St Ives mines in Australia, as well as the Damang mine in Ghana. A ground-breaking HIV/AIDS agreement is signed with the trade unions

  • 1999

    Gold Fields wins control of Driefontein by buying AngloGold’s 21.5% shareholding. The deal makes Gold Fields the world’s second largest gold producer. Then Chairman, Chris Thompson, launches a ground-breaking HIV/AIDS strategy

  • 1998

    A new company, Goldco, is formed from the gold assets of Gold Fields with those of Gencor. Goldco is subsequently renamed Gold Fields Limited. The merger takes place against the background of a tough commercial environment where costs are outstripping the price of finished gold

  • 1994

    The Government of National Unity is installed under President Mandela – the first democratically-elected president in South Africa’s history

  • 1993

    Gold Fields South Africa acquires the then underground Tarkwa mine in Ghana for US$3 million

  • 1990

    Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years in prison and the ANC suspends its armed struggle against the National Party government

  • 1989

    London-based Consolidated Gold Fields is acquired by the Hanson Group after a highly-contested takeover by Minorco Plc (part of Anglo American) is successfully repulsed. Gold Fields South Africa then acquires a further 30% of the 38% Consolidated Gold Fields shareholding. This marks a new chapter for Gold Fields South Africa, now independent and firmly rooted in the Witwatersrand
  • 1987

    Gold Fields celebrates its 100th birthday as the national state of emergency in South Africa declared a year before sees thousands detained without trial and civil war appears to be a real possibility

  • 1986

    Gold Fields South Africa acquires 78% of the new Northam Platinum mining operation on the Western Bushveld Complex

  • 1984

    Gold Fields South Africa invests in the Gold Fields Teachers Centre in Diepkloof, Soweto, and new mechanical workshops in the Transkei, a major labour sending area to the mines – as part of an effort to improve the education of its black employees

  • 1983

    The Chamber of Mines recognises the right of the National Union of Miners to represent black mineworkers (who constituted the overwhelming majority of mineworkers), following disturbances that resulted in the death of 10 people
  • 1981

    West and East Driefontein merge to become Driefontein Consolidated – the largest and lowest cost gold mining company in the world, in which Gold Fields South Africa has a 38% stake. The Gold Fields Foundation is established and the company is a founding member of the Small Business Development Corporation aimed at assisting black entrepreneurship and small businesses

  • 1980

    Gold Fields South Africa diversifies into zinc and tin, whilst Harry Oppenheimer of Anglo American acquires 29.9% of Consolidated Gold Fields shares on the London Stock Exchange

  • 1979

    West Driefontein becomes the largest gold producer ever. A price increase from US$36 per ounce in 1970 to US$613 per ounce in 1979 sees Gold Fields South Africa’s earnings rise by 1,100% over the same period

  • 1976

    The student uprising on16 June 1976 sees 25,000 school-children take to the streets to peacefully protest the mandatory teaching of Afrikaans in their schools. By the end of the day, many people are left dead, South Africa faces widespread international condemnation and foreign multinationals start to withdraw from the country

  • 1968

    The Kloof mine starts production, whilst a serious flood almost sees the end of West Driefontein

  • 1966

    The Rivonia trial ends, with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and other ANC activist sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island

  • 1963

    Consolidated Gold Fields acquires control of American Zinc, Lead and Smelting Company for US$18 million. Over the next two years, global demand for zinc almost doubles

  • 1961

    The Republic of South Africa is established and leaves the British Commonwealth of Nations. Consolidated Gold Fields moves into mineral sands mining in Australia – with rutile and zircon doubling in price over the next two years

  • 1959-1960

    The name ‘Gold Fields of South Africa’ is reintroduced to cover all South African operations of Consolidated Gold Fields of London. Consolidated Gold Fields (Australia) is also established. On 21 March 1960, the Sharpeville massacre results in the death of 69 peaceful and unarmed protesters by the authorities

  • 1948

    The National Party wins the election, signalling the start of the iniquities of apartheid and separate development. A year later, the ANC Youth League publishes its Programme for Action

  • 1939-1945

    Gold Fields pushes its operations in Alaska, Australia, Colombia, New Guinea, South Africa and West Africa to record levels to fund the Allied war effort during World War 2

  • 1933

    The discovery of further reefs in the West Wits leads to a boom in mining shares in the London and Johannesburg exchanges

  • 1932

    Deputy Chairman John Agnew approves investment in the West Witwatersrand Areas – with Gold Fields subsequently securing 30% in the West Wits (as it was known). Shortly afterwards the government of South Africa’s abandons the Gold Standard

  • 1931

    As the Great Depression hits the world economy, Dr Rudolf Krahmann (with the help of consulting engineer Guy Carleton Jones) detects the magnetic shales beneath the large gold deposits of the West Wits Line. This led to extensive development – including that of the Driefontein and Kloof mines

  • 1929

    Consolidated Gold Fields interests include stakes in 25 companies worldwide, including two gold mines in Australia and a tin mining company in West Africa

  • 1928

    The Sub-Nigel mine becomes one of the richest gold mines in the world, producing £29 million for investors during its life and £24 million in taxes for the government of South Africa

  • 1914-1918

    A total of 1,052 Gold Fields employees enlist for active service during World War One, with 77 losing their lives. Charles Rudd dies in 1916

  • 1902

    Cecil Rhodes dies leaving a £3 million estate

  • 1899-1902

    A number of Gold Fields ‘kommandos’ support the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War, whilst the chairman, Lord Harris, is appointed assistant adjutant-general of the Imperial Yeomanry on the British side

  • 1898

    After an initial investment of £250,000 by Rhodes and Rudd, Consolidated Gold Fields is rated as the most valuable company in the world

  • 1894-1896

    The Robinson Deep, Sub-Nigel and Simmer & Jack Gold Mines are opened, forming Gold Fields ‘trinity’ of mines, ‘Faith, Hope and Charity’

  • 1892

    The company is renamed Consolidated Gold Fields of South Africa, with the purpose of mining the deep-level gold deposits of the Witwatersrand

  • 1887

    Gold Fields of South Africa Limited is formed in London during Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and an office is established at Doornfontein in Johannesburg

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