Graham Briggs,
CEO, Harmony
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 09 January 2009 – Harmony Gold Mining Company CEO Graham Briggs says the company’s capital expenditure plans remain intact despite the credit crunch, and adds that he sees gold rising to $900 per ounce this year

Briggs also repeated his forecast that the group – the world’s fifth and Africa’s third-largest gold producer – would be debt-free by June, and would then look to acquire more assets, preferably those that were already operational.

He added that Harmony has a due diligence team that is hunting assets around the world, but would only buy mines once rid of its debt. “We are searching all over the place,” he said.

“We are well on the way to a net debt free position by June,” Briggs told Reuters in an interview.

Harmony’s debt in October stood at R2.4 billion, and since then it has made efforts to cut it, including the issue of shares to raise close to R1 billion.

“The financial climate has put a lot of companies into stress, and we are seeing a lot of due diligence at the moment, but we are unlikely to do any acquisition until June,” he reiterated.

Briggs – who has slashed jobs and sold assets since taking over Harmony in 2007 and successfully turning it around – said the group would not shed any jobs owing to the financial crisis.

Reuters reports that the crisis and the subsequent global commodity downturn has seen firms announce lay-offs of more than 10 000 miner’s jobs in South Africa, angering unions and worsening efforts to trim the unemployment rate which stands at about 23%.

“Our capital expenditure is still intact, and we have no plan to stop anything as our capital projects are nearing completion and are the mines of the future,” Briggs continued. “Harmony has really had a period of restructuring, and there would be no reason for further job losses this year,"” he emphasised.