Certain statements in this document constitute “forward looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the US Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Such forward looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other important factors that could cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the company to be materially different from the future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward looking statements. Such risks, uncertainties and other important factors include among others: economic, business and political conditions in South Africa, Ghana, Australia, Peru and elsewhere; the ability to achieve anticipated efficiencies and other cost savings in connection with past and future acquisitions, exploration and development activities; decreases in the market price of gold and/or copper; hazards associated with underground and surface gold mining; labour disruptions; availability terms and deployment of capital or credit; changes in government regulations, particularly environmental regulations; and new legislation affecting mining and mineral rights; changes in exchange rates; currency devaluations; inflation and other macro-economic factors, industrial action, temporary stoppages of mines for safety and unplanned maintenance reasons; and the impact of the AIDS crisis in South Africa. These forward looking statements speak only as of the date of this document.
The company undertakes no obligation to update publicly or release any revisions to these forward looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date of this document or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.
|Unlawful strikes in South Africa disrupt production
JOHANNESBURG. 26 November 2012, Gold Fields Limited (NYSE & JSE: GFI) today announced net earnings for the
September quarter of R1,424 million compared with R1,606 million in the June quarter and R2,055 million in the September
2011 quarter. In US dollar terms net earnings for the September quarter were US$171 million, compared with US$198 million in
the June quarter and US$293 million in the September 2011 quarter.
- Production losses of 35,000 ounces due to illegal strike action at KDC and Beatrix;
- Underground fire at KDC West responsible for 30,000 ounces of lost production;
- Group attributable equivalent gold production of 811,000 ounces compared with 862,000 ounces in the June quarter;
- Total cash cost of US$916 per ounce and NCE of US$1,448 per ounce
- Operating margin of 45 per cent and NCE margin of 13 per cent; and
- “24/7” arrangements and other operating improvements agreed at South Deep.
“The September quarter of 2012 will be remembered as one of the most challenging from an operational perspective. Largely
due to the impact of an underground fire at KDC West’s Ya Rona shaft and the illegal strikes at KDC and Beatrix, attributable
production for the September 2012 quarter was 811,000 gold equivalent ounces, which was 6 per cent lower than the 862,000
ounces achieved in the June quarter.
Amid the operational difficulties there was a significant improvement in the Group’s fatal injury frequency rate, which improved
from 0.15 in the June quarter to 0.08 in the September quarter. KDC East and South Deep both achieved three million fatality
free shifts in August and September respectively. This is the first time this has been achieved in KDC East’s history and the
mine has subsequently surpassed one year without any fatal accidents being recorded. South Deep has, at the time of writing,
extended its fatality free period to nineteen months. Despite these encouraging results, three fatalities occurred at Beatrix
during the quarter, two of which were tramming related and one which was due to a gravity related fall of ground. In line with a
Group directive issued last year, changes are being effected to communication systems and the configuration of rolling stock
equipment deployed in tramming to improve safety. Tarkwa and Cerro Corona reported zero lost time injuries during the
quarter, with both these mines reporting no lost time injuries in the past year.
The investigation into the underground fire at Ya Rona which led to the tragic death of five employees during the June quarter,
was firstly delayed until the fire was extinguished on 14 August and smoke levels reduced, subsequently, the investigation was
further impacted by the strike at KDC West which ended on 18 October. After completing the statutory investigations the
Section 54 was lifted and production at the shaft resumed in early November. The causes of the fire are currently being
investigated by a forensics team.
Production from the South Africa region declined by 11 per cent, from 437,000 ounces in the June quarter to 387,000 ounces in
the September quarter. This decrease includes approximately 30,000 ounces as a result of the fire at Ya Rona and
approximately 35,000 ounces as a result of the illegal strike action at KDC. The illegal strike at Beatrix had little effect on
production during the September quarter. South Africa has experienced unprecedented labour disruptions across the mining
industry and other sectors of the economy. Gold Fields was not spared, with KDC and Beatrix suffering closures as a result of
unlawful and unprotected strikes. The strikes were characterised by widespread violence and intimidation, which disrupted
production and had a negative impact on investor sentiment towards South Africa. As a result, South Africa’s sovereign debt
credit rating, as well as the credit ratings of the country’s leading mining companies, including Gold Fields, was downgraded. At
KDC East (formerly Kloof) an unlawful and unprotected strike started on 29 August before being resolved on 5 September,
resulting in the loss of 7 production days during the quarter. Employees at the mine resumed their unlawful strike action on 14
October and only returned to work on 6 November resulting in an additional 23 days lost production in the December quarter,
giving a total of 30 days lost over the period of the strike at the East section. At KDC West (formerly Driefontein), employees
engaged in an unlawful and unprotected strike which lasted for 39 days from 9 September to 18 October, and resulted in 12
days of lost production during the September quarter with the balance of 27 days impacting the December quarter. At the North
and South sections at Beatrix in the Free State, employees engaged in an unprotected strike lasting 23 days from 24
September to 16 October and at four shaft West section from 21 September to 18 October, a total of 29 days. At this stage it is
estimated that KDC and Beatrix have lost approximately 145,000 ounces of gold production during the strike over the
September and December quarters, resulting in a loss of revenue of R2.1 billion.
The striking miners cited a number of reasons for their unlawful and unprotected actions, ranging from administrative to wage
and salary issues. However, the most common thread to the demands amongst our employees’ at all three mines appears to
relate to some dissatisfaction with the performance of the branch leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).
Our strategy in dealing with the strikes focused in the first instance on maintaining the peace in a volatile environment and then
on continuously engaging with the officially recognised unions, in particular the NUM, as it endeavoured to return its members to
work. At the same time we communicated to the striking workers the unlawful and unprotected nature of their actions. Together
with other gold mining companies Gold Fields also refused to compromise on the terms of the existing two-year Collective Wage
Agreement between the industry and trade unions, which remains in force through to the end of June 2013. However, through
the Chamber of Mines, we have agreed with the trade unions to an earlier implementation of a number of provisions of the 2011
Collective Agreement that were agreed to by all parties, culminating in an adjustment to wages in the relevant bargaining units
of around 3 per cent or R150 million per annum relating to changes to job grades and entry level wages. In addition, the gold
mining companies, trade unions and government have set up a working group for a wide-ranging review of working practices,
productivity improvements and socio-economic conditions in the gold mining industry, which will feed into the next round of
The two months of unlawful and unprotected strike action, in which about 29,000 of our employees participated, has had a
significant impact on the financial viability of some of our shafts and this, coupled with continued above-inflation wage increases,
sharply escalating electricity tariffs, other rising input costs and other potential imposts from the recent “SIMS” review, is
increasing the risk of a significant restructuring of our South African operations in the near to medium-term.
On a positive note, at South Deep a landmark agreement implementing a new operating model was reached between the NUM
and Gold Fields on 2 October 2012. This brought to an end the long-standing tensions between management and the NUM as
the agreement deals with the bulk of issues that caused previous disputes with the union. As a consequence, the Section 189
notice issued to the NUM on 2 August 2012 was withdrawn. The agreement, will result in upfront costs to South Deep of
approximately R170 million to cancel existing allowances and to migrate to a 24-hour, 7-day week operation, in line with
mechanised underground operations across the world. It should however lead to more productive working arrangements, a
bonus system that will more appropriately reward employees who achieve production targets and improved alignment to the
business. Competitive grading and compensation systems will also be implemented under the new operating model.
Capital infrastructure programmes at South Deep continue to meet key delivery dates in support of the build-up to a run-rate of
700,000 ounces per annum by the end of 2015. The ventilation shaft deepening project remains on track for commissioning in
the December 2012 quarter and the additional rock hoisting capability is set to ramp-up to a nameplate capacity of 195,000
tonnes per month by December 2013. This, together with the existing Main shaft capacity of 175,000 tonnes per month, is
expected to be adequate to sustain production supplies of 330,000 tonnes per month to the mill. The gold plant expansion from
220,000 tonnes per month to 330,000 tonnes per month is under final construction, with commissioning planned before the end
of the year, three years ahead of full production.
The international regions had a solid operational quarter, contributing 424,000 attributable gold-equivalent ounces, similar to the
425,000 ounces achieved in the June quarter. This was despite the two-week closure of the heap leach facilities at Tarkwa, in
Ghana. Noteworthy has been the improvement at Agnew, in Australia, where gold production improved from 37,000 ounces in
the June quarter to 47,600 ounces in the September quarter.
Group unit costs were negatively impacted by lower production, with total cash cost increasing by 8 per cent from US$851/oz to
US$916/oz and Notional Cash Expenditure (NCE) rising by 11 per cent from US$1,308/oz to US$1,448/oz.
Turning to our Growth projects, the interim feasibility study at the Chucapaca exploration project in southern Peru, a joint
venture of which Gold Fields owns a 51 per cent interest, has to date not delivered robust and acceptable project returns,
despite having a large resource base of almost 8 million ounces. Further work will focus on determining different mining and
processing size configurations and will include a review of underground versus open pit potential. Consideration has also been
given to expanding our exploration drilling horizon of interest. At the Far Southeast project in the Philippines, our main area of
focus continues to be the Free Prior Informed Consent (“FPIC”) process, which is a forerunner to the granting of the Foreign
Technical Assistance Agreement (“FTAA”) application submitted last year. This is considered to be the main priority following
the announcement in the quarter of an initial inferred resource of 892 million tonnes at 0.7 grams per tonne gold and 0.5 per
cent copper for a total of 19.8 million ounces of gold and 4.5 million tonnes of copper. At the Arctic Platinum project in Finland,
work to date indicates that the significant resource potential of the Suhanko project of around 7.1 million ounces 2PGE+Au can
be supplemented by drilling work undertaken on the Suhanko North deposit, thus adding to the scale and size of the project.
Further work, including a second pilot plant study is to be conducted on the Platsol metallurgical process. This pilot plant which
allows for the recovery of metals on site, is set to begin early in 2013. A pre-feasibility study is expected to be completed by the
end of December 2012, and thereafter a decision will be made whether or not to undertake a feasibility study.
At Damang in Ghana, work on the Damang super-pit has been slowed down and instead a concept study at the higher grade
Damang pit cut-back has commenced. This study aims to provide higher-grade feed to the existing plant. This smaller starter
project may be more capital-efficient, allowing the significant potential at Damang to be brought to account earlier and
incrementally. We are also investigating the feasibility of brownfields projects at our other mines, which are lower risk and more
value accretive in the short-term than greenfields ventures. At Tarkwa, work has begun on the feasibility of a second plant to
meet the mine’s future processing requirements in lieu of the existing heap leach operation. At Cerro Corona in Peru, the
feasibility of a sulphide plant expansion is also being investigated.”
|| JSE Limited – (GFI)
|Number of shares in issue
||Range - Quarter
||ZAR96.00 – ZAR114.54
|- at end September 2012
||Average Volume - Quarter
|- average for the quarter
||NYSE – (GFI)
||100 per cent
||Range - Quarter
||US$11.85 – US$13.94
||Average Volume - Quarter
|Bloomberg / Reuters
||GFISJ / GFLJ.J