Regional overview: West Africa

3.7.1 Introduction

Production is focused on the Damang and Tarkwa open pit mines, which are within 30km of one another in south-western Ghana. As with our other international regions, the West Africa Region plans to raise production levels to 1 million ounces by 2015.The current focus is to maximise the NCE margin whilst growing production.

Tarkwa, Africa’s largest open pit gold mine by production, will target its well-defined Mineral Resource and Reserve position to boost safe production and maximise returns. At Damang, near-mine exploration has increased the life of the mine from 2014 to 2020 – and delivered positive prospects for further production growth.

Gold Fields has a major exploration prospect at the Yanfolila project in Mali (p123). We accelerated exploration drilling at Yanfolila in C2010, in a focused zone around Komana East and Komana West. The result of this process will help us reach a construction decision within 18 to 24 months.

Both Damang and Tarkwa retained their OHSAS 18001 and ISO 14001 certifications after undergoing independent audits during C2010, and are fully compliant with the International Cyanide Management Code.

Performance in C2010

Attributable production in West Africa rose by 11% in C2010 to 685,000 ounces
(C2009: 616,000 ounces), following on an ongoing drive to optimise processing facilities at our mines, including our capacity to process higher-grade, harder ore at Damang. Over the same period, total cash costs rose by 14% from US$522/ oz to US$594/oz, reflecting the impact of cost efficiency measures. The NCE margin improved to 29% in C2010 (C2009: 26%). The healthier financial position enabled us to generate free cash flow, pay US$160 million in dividends and US$126 million in royalties, corporate taxes and the National Stabilisation Levy. Other salient features for C2010 include:

  • The growing impact of business process re-engineering at both operations
  • The launch of owner maintenance at Tarkwa and owner mining at Damang
  • Commissioning of a secondary crusher at our Damang mine
  • Achievement of a full-year of ore treatment using High Pressure Grinding Rolls at the Tarkwa South Heap Leach Facility

Outlook for 2011

We plan to improve production efficiencies and cost controls, whilst focusing on near-mine and greenfields projects to help us reach our 2015 regional target of 1 million ounces. Specific focus will be placed on:

  • Ongoing business process re-engineering at Tarkwa
  • The entrenchment of owner mining at Damang to ensure optimal efficiency
  • Continued near-mine exploration at Damang to extend the life of mine
  • Finalisation of a feasibility study for long-term (re)treatment options at Tarkwa
  • Continued advancement of our drilling programme at Yanfolila in Mali
  • Strengthening of our socio-economic development capacity

Climate change vulnerability in the south of Ghana, where our mines are located, is moderate. As a result – and given local skills and lifestyle – our agribusiness initiatives place particular focus on the promotion of sustainable local farming. The map (below), prepared by Maplecroft, highlights climate change vulnerability and socio-economic development in the country.