Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 May 2010 – Gold Fields Limited “’ the world’s No. 4 gold producer “’ has confirmed that it still aims to reach an output target of 1 million ounces a quarter, and says it believes that it could achieve this in 12 to 24 months.
CEO Nick Holland told Reuters in an interview that the group would post a strong improvement in output in the current fourth quarter of its 2010 financial year, compared with the third quarter during which it had forecast a lower number.
Gold Fields “’ which has mines in South Africa, Ghana, Australia and Peru “’ has twice revised its output for the third quarter downwards to 800 000 ounces. The group’s annual gold output is 3.6 million ounces.
“Within the next 12 to 24 months we hope to hit a range of 950 000 ounces to 1 million ounces a quarter. I think that’s still something we can achieve,” Holland insisted.
“I expect us to show strong recovery this fourth quarter In the balance of the calendar year we shall see more improvement,” he added.
So far the group’s Achilles’ heel has been its Driefontein and Kloof mines in South Africa, which have been hampered by safety issues that have slowed down their development. Holland said that to reach its stated target, the company would focus on improving safety at those two mines, and increasing output at South Deep “’ a mine that is ranked among the world’s largest.
Another strategy would be to introduce a six-day week at the company, where workers currently work every other Saturday. Talks with the unions on the proposal were ongoing, he said.
Holland said Gold Fields was unlikely to make acquisitions because such deals were likely to be expensive, and he would prefer to expand via exploration.
He added that he was willing to participate in the consolidation of South African gold mines which were faced with rising costs and falling output. Mines that shared the same ore body would be ideal for such deals, he said.
Holland and AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani have informally talked about a possible combination of their South Africa mines. “But there is nothing imminent in the short term,” Holland declared.
He said a project to build a uranium plant, which would amount to the group’s fifth mine in South Africa, had been hit by regulatory and environmental setbacks, and an investment decision due in the first quarter of this year had been delayed.
The project would treat 402 Mt of historical tailings dams on surface “’ sufficient to produce 58 million pounds of uranium and around 4.2 million ounces gold in total.