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Gold Fields would consider joint ventures to bolster output

‘At the right time, it may be useful for us to chat to each other and see if there is something we could do together.’
Image: Naashon Zalk/Bloomberg News

Gold Fields would consider joint ventures, including for its key Ghana operation, to keep the miner’s output at the peak it expects to reach in three years time.

In Ghana, that could potentially involve working in future with Johannesburg-based rival AngloGold Ashanti to lower costs and improve productivity. Gold Fields’ Tarkwa mine is about 10 kilometers (about 6.2 miles) from AngloGold’s Iduapriem operation. No talks have yet been held with AngloGold, whose new Chief Executive Officer Alberto Calderon takes over on September 1.

“At the right time, it may be useful for us to chat to each other and see if there is something we could do together,” Gold Fields CEO Chris Griffith said in an interview. “We could easily for example have a joint venture on those assets.”

Griffith, who took over from Nick Holland in April, last week said Gold Fields will need to consider acquisitions to maintain output at 2.7 million to 2.8 million ounces from 2024. Like AngloGold, Gold Fields has shifted focus to more profitable mines in Ghana, Australia and Latin America as the industry in South Africa dwindles amid soaring costs and the geological challenges of exploiting the world’s deepest deposits.

“AngloGold is open to options that improve value for its shareholders, but does not comment on specific corporate activity,” a spokesman said in an email.

The combined output of Tarkwa and Iduapriem was about 800 000 ounces last year, which would have made it one of the largest gold operations in the world.

A joint venture would increase the life of the Tarkwa mine, raise output from current levels and benefit the companies by optimising the plant capacities of both their operations, said Mandi Dungwa, an analyst at Kagiso Asset Management in Cape Town.

“It’s something Gold Fields has been wanting to do for a long time and it seems new management at AngloGold are more open to the idea,” Dungwa said.

Part of the discount at which Gold Fields trades to its international peers will disappear when the company delivers its Salares Norte project in Chile, Griffith said. While having the company’s primary listing in Johannesburg also weighs on its valuation, the CEO said moving to another city is currently not a priority. Such a shift to London or New York would have “large tax considerations” and would also raise concerns for the South African government, he said.

“There are natural homes, but I think before you decide what your address might be, you have to decide if you can move from your current address,” Griffith said. “London or New York are the most logical homes.”

© 2021 Bloomberg

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