IN THIS SECTION
Report from the Chief Executive Officer

 

Report from the Chief Executive Officer

As I reflect on C2010, all our efforts at Gold Fields have been focused on realising our Vision of being “the global leader in sustainable gold mining”. C2010 was also the year in which the company’s share price outperformed its senior gold peer group in what continues to be the strongest gold market in our generation.

1.2.1 The gold market

In December 2010, gold prices reached what was then an all-time high of US$1,426 per ounce, an increase of almost 30% for the year and an increase of 460% over the low of US$256 per ounce recorded on
18 February 2001. Several key dynamics had some role to play in the continued rise in the gold price in C2010:

Investment demand

The first is higher levels of investment in gold and gold related products, such as the various Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) now available around the world. Gold has increasingly been viewed as a relatively stable asset class amid the global economic volatility experienced over the past two years. In C2010, public and private investors continued to increase their investment in gold in response to economic volatility and uncertainty. This is due to the historical status of the metal as an efficient and accessible way to preserve capital. As a result, gold has become a key investment target for those who seek to diversify their holdings and mitigate their portfolio risks. The amount of gold held by ETFs, for example, has risen from 150 tonnes in 2004 to around 2,150 tonnes at the end of C2010, with total holdings in ETFs reaching US$98 billion. Despite the growth in demand for gold and gold related investment products, investments in gold only constitute approximately 1% of all funds under management globally which, we believe, leaves considerable scope for further investment in gold.

Jewellery demand

The second dynamic that drove the gold market in C2010 was strong economic growth in the emerging markets, led by India and China. This has not only translated into strong demand for all commodities, but has also increased disposable income in markets that have traditionally demonstrated strong demand for gold and other precious metals. Both India and China, the first and second largest consumers of gold in the world respectively, enjoyed strong levels of economic growth of around 9% in C2010. This has underpinned strong demand for gold jewellery, which is used by many families to store and protect their wealth. Official data shows that China imported about 260 tonnes of gold in C2010, more than double the amount imported in C2009.

Similarly, India’s gold imports were up substantially, while the governments and central banks of emerging economies have sought to diversify their exposure to currencies and have increased their sovereign gold reserves. We believe that the outlook for continued economic growth in India and China remains strong and could continue to provide significant support for the price of gold during 2011 and beyond.

New mine supply

Additional support for the gold market during C2010 came from the continued decline in global gold discoveries over the last decades. According to Gold Fields research, gold discoveries have been on a declining trend since their peak in the mid-1980s. As a result, the gold sector is not discovering sufficient ounces to replace those ounces lost through production. In addition, the grade of ore being discovered is generally decreasing, the amount being spent on making these discoveries is rising, and the costs of developing and mining these lower grade deposits are getting higher.

This has resulted in growing competition for resources and increasing prices for gold resource assets against a scenario where primary gold supply remains the same today as it was 10 years ago, despite the significant rise in the gold price. Operating environments are becoming more challenging and the lead times to bring projects to fruition are increasing. This trend is unlikely to change in the short-term. Despite a small increase in primary gold production in C2010, we do not foresee any change in overall production trends in the short- to medium-term. Gold Fields, however, is well positioned to address these challenges.

“If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine”
Gold Fields Safety Value

Future price dynamics

Market consensus is that quantitative easing, low interest rates and prospects for significantly higher inflation in the years to come should underpin a strong gold price during C2011. Gold is also likely to be supported by political events, notably growing social and political instability in the Middle East, the threat of sovereign debt defaults in Europe and a global economic recession.

The wider gold mining industry also expects continued strong prices. In PwC’s annual survey of executives from 44 gold mining companies, 73% of respondents thought gold prices would increase further in 2011. This forecast is also supported by 24 analysts polled by the London Bullion Market Association in January 2011.1

In light of these considerations, we share industry opinion that supply and demand fundamentals backed by economic conditions provide some support for current gold price levels, at least in the short-term.

Fiscal environment

Allied to this, one of the most prominent challenges continues to be a hardening fiscal environment in many producer countries. This has manifested itself in increases, or proposed increases, in new taxes or higher royalties in all of our host countries. This has been demonstrated by attempts in Australia to impose the Resource Super-Profit Tax in May 2010, the imposition of higher royalty rates in March 2011 in Ghana, the forthcoming Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Australia and an anticipated carbon tax in South Africa.

1 Financial Times, Bumper Times Beckon for Precious Metals, 7 January 2011

Input costs and Notional Cash Expenditure (NCE)

The resurgence in global mining activity has further exacerbated the shortage of skilled workers as a major challenge and driver of costs. This has resulted in a global war for mining talent.

The continued rise in input costs in C2010 will require gold prices to remain between US$1,100 and US$1,400 an ounce, if we are to avoid funding pressures on sustainable primary gold supplies. By the end of C2010, the industry-wide NCE of producing an ounce of gold was estimated at between US$950 and US$1,050 per ounce.2 As demand for commodities continues to increase and mining activities again ramp-up around the world, the mining industry could face another significant spike in input costs, similar to that experienced in C2008 and C2009.

One issue which has become a significant risk to the sustainability of the industry as a whole is the need for greater transparency – both for itself and its investors – regarding the all-in cost of producing an ounce of gold. Against the backdrop of escalating input costs, it is becoming more urgent for the gold mining industry to move towards a more inclusive and transparent reporting of costs. We believe that NCE, which includes all operating costs and all capital expenditure as well as nearmine exploration, represents the most representative cost of producing an ounce of gold, and is a more reliable measure than the commonly used ‘cash costs’.

2 Gold Fields estimate

The main argument used against NCE as a cost measure is the inclusion of so-called ‘growth capital’ in the definition. Nonetheless, in our view ‘growth capital’ should be included because the bulk of the capital invested in new production is largely aimed at replenishing the industry’s declining output. If this is not the case, then surely we should have seen primary gold supply increasing over the last 10 years instead of remaining stagnant, particularly in the face of significantly higher gold prices. In an industry that continues to favour cash costs instead of reporting all-in costs, it is not surprising that external stakeholders will demand a greater share of the (apparently) higher operating profit margins that are not supported by underlying cash flow.

We believe that each one of these key dynamics that drove the gold bull market during C2010 remain firmly in place. This bodes well for the gold price, but also represents both challenges and risks to the industry – in terms of potentially rising costs, increased imposts and the continuing war for skills.

1.2.2 Our Vision

It is against this backdrop that Gold Fields took decisive steps during C2010 towards realising our Vision of being “the global leader in sustainable gold mining”. We have implemented strategies aimed at reducing our relative costs by optimising our existing operations and improving the overall quality of our assets. The focus has been on advancing four overarching operational objectives:

  • Improving our safety performance, led by a further reduction in fatalities (p71), the further consolidation of our Safe Production Management Programme (p72) and a reduction in unplanned safety-related production stoppages
  • Growing our free cash flow margin per ounce on an NCE basis through the launch of an extensive business reengineering programme in the Australasia, South Africa and West Africa Regions (p61)
  • Growing our production base to at least 5 million ounces, in production or in development, by 2015, while at the same time improving the overall number of ounces of production per issued share. This includes the ongoing development and production ramp-up at our South Deep mine, continued advancement of our four resource development and feasibility projects (p120-123), organic growth in our international regions (p118-119) and stabilising our established mines in South Africa (p56)
  • Maintaining a strong balance sheet. Our balance sheet was bolstered by the highly successful US$1 billion, 10-year bond issue in October 2010, which significantly strengthened our liquidity and debt maturity profile. We are also using our strong cash flow to continuously support our balance sheet

Gold Fields Framework for Sustainable Development

As part of our Vision, we have developed and introduced a comprehensive and industry – leading sustainability framework – the Gold Fields Framework for Sustainable Development. This provides for the comprehensive and systematic implementation of our Values through an overarching Sustainable Development Policy that is supported by subsidiary policies, strategies and best practice guides. The Framework is fully aligned with a range of internationally recognised sustainability benchmarks and standards, including those promoted by:

  • South Africa’s King III Code
  • The World Gold Council
  • The International Council on Mining and Metals
  • The UN Global Compact

This Framework – together with our core commitment to safe mining – forms the basis for continuous improvement in the sustainability of our business. As a measure of our progress, we plan to build on our already well established place as a top performer in the JSE Socially Responsible Investment Index (SRI) by achieving inclusion in the upper ranks of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index within the next three years.

Risk management and scenario planning

We are increasingly incorporating the concept of sustainability into all aspects of our business. This proactive approach requires strong focus on risk management and scenario planning, so we can pre-empt challenges to – and opportunities around – the sustainability of our business. The comprehensive, applied nature of our Enterprise-Wide Risk Management System (p40) means that once these challenges and opportunities have been identified, concrete measures are integrated into the day-to-day management of our business.

Given the long-term nature of major mining investments, it is imperative that sustainability is built-in from the earliest stages of exploration through to mine closure. Similarly, business sustainability needs to be driven at a regional level in order to ensure our approach is tailored to local regulations, circumstances and requirements.

An integrated business sustainability model

The mining sector has traditionally given sustainability a relatively narrow definition based on environmental, community and health & safety performance. There is growing recognition, however, of a broader definition that looks at the long-term performance of a business in its entirety. This means looking at risks and opportunities across the spectrum – whether commercial, environmental, operational, social or ethical. As a result we factor these risks and opportunities into our overall business model and so ensure that we can develop and operate economically sustainable mines. This ‘integrated’ approach is already being applied by a number of leading global businesses - and now by Gold Fields. Our integrated approach to sustainability is reflected in our application of integrated reporting.

We have used Gold Fields three ‘strategic pillars’ as a framework around which to structure this information. The first, ‘Optimising our operations’, deals with our immediate operational performance, safety and environmental stewardship. The second, ‘Growing Gold Fields’, focuses on our exploration-driven growth strategy, the expanding growth pipeline and our Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves. The third, ‘Securing our future responsibly’, addresses issues likely to affect our business performance in the long-term. This includes talent management, employee health and wellbeing, the maintenance of strong and constructive relationships with key investor, government and community stakeholders, as well as business ethics.

This integrated approach, which incorporates the broad range of sustainability issues into all areas of our business management, is likewise reflected in our performance management systems. Strong performance management is vital for a complex and rapidly growing global company such as Gold Fields. It ensures employees share appropriately in the success of the company.

Gold Fields uses a fully integrated or ‘balanced scorecard’ approach. This includes traditional measures of performance such as employee productivity, as well as environmental and safety metrics. Using this approach, we are ensuring that business sustainability is integral to our day-to-day way of doing things – and that there is accountability for the long-term performance of the company. All middle- to seniorlevel employees participate in this performance management process, which forms an integral part of our talent management.

1.2.3 Key areas of focus for Gold Fields

In order to embed the integrated business sustainability model into the Group we are focusing on three key themes, namely business flexibility, optimisation of operations and future growth, and the promotion of ‘sustainable gold’. The diligent and forward looking application of these themes, as we progress towards our 5 million ounce target, will ensure that this growth is sustainable. It will also enhance investor confidence in Gold Fields as a company that is innovative, capable, global and responsible.

1.2.4 Business flexibility

Business flexibility is critical for international companies seeking to prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy that demands agility, adaptability and foresight. At an operational level this requires our mines to continuously improve their planning, mining and processing. At a strategic level it requires Gold Fields to evolve as an organisation as we successfully explore and operate in unfamiliar and potentially challenging new environments. Our efforts to further integrate operational and strategic flexibility into our business will ultimately translate into enhanced returns for investors.

At an operational level, progress over C2010 has included:

  • The generation of tradable Certified Emission Reductions from our Beatrix Methane project to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the sale of carbon credits (p87)
  • Significant successes in addressing seismic-related accidents in our underground mines (p76)
  • Commissioning the Gold Recovery Opportunities from Waste Treatment Holistically (GROWTH) initiative at the Kloof-Driefontein Complex (KDC), to treat large quantities of low grade surface rock dumps (p58)
  • Development of integrated strategies around water security in the West Wits area and the generation of alternative revenue streams from our tailings (p88-89, 91)

At a strategic level, we completed the implementation of a new corporate structure. This includes the devolution of operational support and control from our corporate office in Johannesburg to each of our four operating regions (Australasia, South Africa, South America and West Africa). As a result, our corporate office has been rationalised to focus mainly on high-level Group issues such as corporate strategy, policies and standards, the allocation of capital and sustainability, the overall co-ordination of exploration and corporate development, as well as high-level project control and quality assurance. We have considerably strengthened the capabilities of our regional management teams over the past two years to ensure they are fully equipped to operate in this new, devolved management environment and can adapt quickly, flexibly and appropriately to local circumstances.

In South Africa, this new corporate structure has been supported by our Project Blueprint business reengineering programme. The key initiative under Project Blueprint is the merger of our Kloof and Driefontein mines into the Kloof-Driefontein Complex (KDC). The South African regional management structure has also been integrated with the KDC team, providing for a more focused, lean and fit for purpose management structure – as well as reduced operational overheads to ensure its long-term sustainability(p61).

Business flexibility also requires that the company attracts, retains and develops talented employees, who can innovate and exercise their initiative at an appropriately devolved level. It is in this context that we are placing particular emphasis on education, training, talent development and academic partnerships – to the mutual benefit of our employees and Gold Fields (p144-146).

“In C2011, we aim to:

1. Achieve stability of safe production at the Kloof-Driefontein Complex (KDC) and Beatrix mine in South Africa
2. Continue the development and production ramp-up at the South Deep mine towards the target of 750,000 ounces by the end of C2014. Our plans are for output of about 300,000 to 325,000 ounces during C2011, compared to 274,000 ounces in C2010
3. Continue business re-engineering in our Australasia, South Africa and West Africa Regions to improve free cash flow and get each operation to a sustainable NCE margin of 20% in the short-term and 25% in the medium- to long-term at sustainable gold prices
4. Continue the momentum and development of our four resource development and feasibility projects in Peru, Mali, the Philippines and Finland, as well as near-mine growth at Damang”

Nick Holland, Chief Executive Officer, Gold Fields

1.2.5 Optimisation of operations and future growth

Our overarching Goal is to increase production from the annual run rate of about 3.6 million ounces achieved by the end of C2010, to 5 million quality, attributable, gold-equivalent ounces, in development or in production, by the end of 2015.

Our growth strategy is based on the development of high quality growth opportunities. We pursue these opportunities through aggressive near-mine exploration, as well as greenfields exploration within our existing regions and beyond.

Together, these two strategies are designed to get us from our current production level to our 5 million ounce target by 2015. It is important to note that growth is not just about size or the number of ounces produced. It is also about improving the quality of our portfolio and generating value for shareholders on a per ounce and per share basis. This principle applies to both our existing operations and to the new ounces that we bring into the portfolio.

Ensuring our existing assets deliver their full potential

With Group attributable Mineral Reserves of 77 million gold equivalent ounces, it is essential to bring these ounces to account in the most cost effective way and, in doing so, ensure the longevity of each of our existing mines. Underpinning this objective is the need to achieve the required levels of ore reserve development to create mining flexibility.

We are also working to improve the quality of our existing production by reducing our cost base to more sustainable levels. In particular, this means improving our NCE margin to at least 20% at each operation, which we achieved in the December quarter 2010 for the Group as a whole. We are doing so through extensive business re-engineering programmes, which are identifying and realising major cost savings on an ongoing basis. The most significant of these programmes is Project Blueprint, which is helping ensure the long-term business sustainability of our South Africa Region. Similar programmes are underway in the Australasia and West Africa regions.

By 2015, the South Africa Region alone is expected to contribute between 2 and 2.3 million ounces a year towards our target of 5 million ounces – ensuring the region’s rightful place at the centre of our internationally diversified portfolio of assets. This will be achieved by stabilising the production run rate at our mature Beatrix and KDC operations and building up the South Deep project to a production capacity of 750,000 ounces per year by the end of C2014 (p56). In South Africa, it will also be crucial to reduce energy costs and ensure security of supply.

By 2015, each of our three international regions is expected to contribute at least 1 million ounces towards our 5 million ounce target. In addition to the development of new greenfields growth opportunities in these regions discussed below, our approach is based on five key objectives at our existing mines:

  • Realisation of their full potential through enhanced mine development and cost reductions, including business re-engineering at Tarkwa,
    St Ives and Agnew (p64)
  • Organic or near-mine growth, with particular opportunities around Agnew and Damang (p118)
  • Maintenance of current production levels at Tarkwa (p60)
  • Life extension at St Ives, Agnew and Cerro Corona, and the maintenance of current levels of production
  • Reducing energy costs and ensuring security of energy supply in all our regions (p67)

Creating high quality growth opportunities

The Australasia, West Africa and South America regions have all been identified as containing prospective emerging gold and mineral belts with medium- to long-term potential. Gold Fields is building the ongoing diversification of its production portfolio through aggressive exploration-led growth in these regions. In C2011, Gold Fields plans to spend about US$50 million on near-mine exploration, and about US$100 million on greenfields exploration.

Of particular importance is our rich pipeline of greenfields projects, which we have developed over the past few years. We now have four advanced projects, which are moving towards construction decisions over the next 18 – 24 months and will underpin our target of 5 million ounces by 2015. These include:

  • The Chucapaca project in Peru (p122)
  • The Yanfolila project in Mali (p123)
  • The Far South East project in the Philippines (p120)
  • The Arctic Platinum project in Finland (p121)

As these projects come online, they will further consolidate our status as a truly global gold mining company – with all of the growth opportunities that this entails. Ounce-for-ounce exploration-led growth is considerably cheaper than buying in additional gold ounces through potentially expensive merger and acquisition activities. In C2010, we added almost 12 million ounces of resources at a cost of approximately US$10/ounce, which, we understand, is the most competitive performance when measured against our large gold mining peers.

Our research suggests that gold discoveries are increasingly taking place in ‘high-risk’ regions, as ‘traditional’ gold producing areas are becoming progressively depleted.1 This, in combination with higher gold prices, means mining companies are pushing the boundaries of their exploration and production – physically, geologically and technologically. As a result, they are mining in ever more remote areas, where they are increasingly expected to fill the development vacuum left by inadequate or nonexistent state infrastructure.

1 Tommy McKeith, Gold Fields, Diggers and Dealers, August 2010

Companies are also pursuing activities in a range of non-traditional, and in many cases high-risk, producer countries, resulting in exposure to a range of issues around transparency, human rights and geopolitical risk. The ongoing ‘internationalisation’ of our production and exploration is reflective of this long-term trend. Our comprehensive Enterprise Wide Risk Management (EWRM) system and stakeholder engagement programme makes Gold Fields wellplaced to successfully navigate this new environment.

In addition, we have significant experience in working in frontier areas and have a proven track record of establishing exploration activity safely and with the support of host communities and regulators. Our socioeconomic development programmes (p158) are closely informed by our extensive community engagement processes (p156), helping ensure strong support for our activities.

Gold Fields has also developed a strong and entrepreneurial exploration competency that has helped us grow both the quality and breadth of our exploration portfolio. We have achieved this against the backdrop of a general decline in gold discoveries within the industry as a whole over the last 20 years.

1.2.6 Promoting ‘sustainable gold’

Our Visions and Values require that we demonstrate the utmost responsibility in everything we do. This is not only the right approach, it is also the prudent one. Our long-term operational and strategic performance is highly dependent upon the effective management of our social, economic, environmental and safety impacts. It is also important for us – as well as our peers – to protect the moral and ethical value of gold itself.

Driving development through profitable and responsible business

We are proud of the contribution we make to the development of our host countries – and to our local communities. Above all, this contribution highlights the integrated nature of business sustainability.

Gold Fields must remain profitable if we are to continue to generate revenues, employ local people, build local capacity and contribute to national economies. This has been – and will remain – the most important contribution a company can make to local and national development.

This is most marked in Ghana, where our operations are estimated to contribute up to 3% of national GDP.

At the same time, it is important that our pursuit of profit is underpinned by the full application of our Values. This is not only a moral imperative, but it is integral to ensuring that we manage our risks, protect our reputation, maintain our social licence to operate and secure long-term shareholder value.

Converting mineral wealth into national wealth

The possession of mineral wealth will only translate into national prosperity when the right regulatory and political conditions are in place. In too many cases, these conditions have been lacking. This dynamic – often known as the ‘resource curse’ – has often resulted in the undermining of other economic sectors, economic instability due to fluctuations in commodity prices, corruption and – in the worst cases – political instability.

There is nothing inevitable about such outcomes. With the right public policies and transparent governance in place, mining can be a huge force for good.

  Figure 1.1: Economic contributions by Gold Fields
  Category US$ million C2010   C2009   C2008  
  Operating costs (incl. procurement and contractors) 1,924   1,479   1,395  
  Salaries 1,027   784   708  
  Payment to capital providers 243   181   230  
  Payments to government 312   249   159  
  Socio-economic development (SED) spend 67¹   11   14  
  Total economic contribution 3,573   2,704   2,506  
               
  Category R million C2010   C2009   C2008  
  Operating costs (incl. procurement and contractors) 14,087   12,466   11,442  
  Salaries 7,514   6,612   5,804  
  Payment to capital providers 1,776   1,525   1,889  
  Payments to government 2,281   2,098   1,307  
  Socio-economic development (SED) spend 490¹   93   115  
  Total economic contribution 26,148   22,794   20,557  

1 C2010: Includes SED projects as per definition on p156

Given the current – and potentially longer-term – boom in gold prices, producer countries face a real opportunity to harness enhanced public revenues and further drive national development.

In essence, this means turning the traditional ‘resource-curse’ into a ‘resource opportunity’. This is particularly evident in Ghana, Mali and Peru. These are countries in which Gold Fields is mining or exploring, and which are broadly utilising their mineral wealth to make significant investments in their own socioeconomic development.

Sustainable Development

Beyond our direct economic impact, we also make an important contribution to key stakeholders, including our employees and local communities, through our Sustainable Development Framework.

Within the Sustainable Development Framework, safety remains our overarching priority in all that we do. As we have said before – and will continue saying into the future: If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine.

We are setting ever more aggressive safety targets in order to move closer to our ultimate goal of ‘Zero Harm’. Over the past four years we have made significant progress in this respect, particularly in terms of fatal injuries. These have fallen from 36 in C2007 to 31 in C2008, 26 in C2009 and 18 in C2010. We are determined to continue the improvement in this trend along the path to our ultimate goal of ‘Zero Harm’.

In our international regions, we are aiming to improve our key safety indicators by 20% during C2011. In South Africa, where the safety base is lower, we are aiming for a more aggressive target of 25%. Our efforts are closely aligned with our holistic employee wellness programme
(‘24 Hours in the Life of a Gold Fields Employee’), which addresses pressing challenges such as HIV/AIDS, housing, recreation and sport, stress and nutrition (p154).

We also consider it to be a core priority to limit the environmental footprint of our operations. This requires a proactive stance that goes beyond strict adherence to environmental legislation and places emphasis on the implementation of best practice in areas such as water treatment and mine closure planning. In addition, rising energy costs and growing concerns about the effect of climate change have elevated the importance of energy efficiency and carbon management at Gold Fields. Our efforts to improve our energy efficiency have already led to a 14% reduction in our electricity consumption at our South African mines since C2008, improvements that will continue. In addition, global social and political pressure is being maintained on companies to address climate change – including through the application of carbon regulation.

Both the disclosure of our carbon footprint and our actions to mitigate our emissions have been recognised as industry-leading by the global Carbon Disclosure Project (p85).

The promotion of local socio-economic development has a direct operational and strategic impact in terms of our ‘social licence to operate’. This is one of the reasons we spend up to 10% of our exploration budget on socio-economic development (SED) initiatives. This reflects our philosophy that sustainability starts at the front end of our business. All our operations are contributing to the development of local businesses and promoting alternative livelihoods through direct interventions and training. In all cases, the emphasis is on making these projects self-sustaining, without ongoing donor funding.

Education is the cornerstone of development in any economy – and especially in ones where business can flourish. As a result, our focus is on the ongoing promotion of a local community ‘skills pipeline’ – including support for schools, the provision of professional training and the targeted recruitment of local people. Our extensive bursary schemes, external training programmes and direct sponsorship of mining schools in South Africa, Peru and Ghana support this objective (p166).

Finally, we aim to promote responsible behaviour across the broader gold value chain through our active support of the World Gold Council’s Responsible Gold programme (p176). By doing so, we aim to promote the spirit of our Values more broadly within the gold sector – and ensure that gold is identified with the highest standards of responsibility, sustainability and ethical conduct.

1.2.7 The external environment

The global mining industry is facing a number of common challenges that cut across commodity-type and every area of mining companies’ performances – in terms of their strategy, operations, sustainability or financial health.

Political and regulatory challenges

Ensuring that mining can continue to play a positive development role relies not only on responsible and transparent use of mining revenues by governments – but also on their provision of a sound and commercially viable business and regulatory environment. This is particularly important in a sector where large investments are often made over decades rather than years.

However, we are increasingly witnessing a high, and rising, level of activity that impacts on our operations in all the countries in which we operate. There is a widespread perception within the mining sector that ‘external’ risks – from governments, communities, trade unions and NGOs – are on the rise. This includes, for example:

  • Pressure for the implementation of heavier mining taxes in a range of countries
  • Politically and socially-driven restrictions on company ownership
  • Calls amongst certain political quarters for the nationalisation of mining companies
  • Pressure on mining companies to ‘fill the gap’ left by inadequate public services

Whilst Gold Fields is committed to the implementation of its Values, we also have a responsibility to maintain our ongoing commercial viability. Although this responsibility is primarily owed to our shareholders, it is also owed to a range of other stakeholders whose fortunes are inextricably linked to our own.

This ultimately includes the governments for whom we generate revenues, the communities we support through our socio-economic development programmes and the people we employ.

It is within this context that many of these external pressures need to be viewed. It is thus incumbent on Gold Fields to engage constructively with our host governments and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the most positive and sustainable outcomes for all involved. Key to any discussion, however, is the need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

Fiscal environment

One of the most prominent challenges has been a hardening fiscal environment in many producer countries. This has been a particular issue where governments seek to shore up their balance sheets in the context of the global economic crisis and high commodity prices. In its 2010 survey of 3,000 mining-related companies, for example, Canada’s Fraser Institute found that government attitudes towards mining had become more hostile in 41 of the 51 countries covered.1

This has manifested itself in increases, or proposed increases, in new taxes and increased royalties.

1 Fraser Institute, Survey of Mining Companies 2009/10 - 2010 Mid-Year Update

This includes all of our host countries, as demonstrated by:

  • Attempts in Australia to impose the Resource Super-Profit Tax in May 2010
  • The imposition of higher royalty rates in March 2011 in Ghana
  • The forthcoming Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in Australia
  • An anticipated carbon tax in South Africa
  • New royalty payments in South Africa

As a result, we are in close and constructive engagement with our host governments on the costs posed by heavier fiscal regimes (p174). This includes clear communication around the broad social and economic benefits that responsible and sustainable gold mining can bring to these countries and their communities.

Currency fluctuations

Mining companies carry out major transactions – including the sale of their products – in foreign currencies. As a result, they are sensitive to currency fluctuations. The US dollar, which is used for the majority of international transactions, has weakened over C2010 against a range of currencies amid concerns around US$600 billion of quantitative easing, low interest rates and potential inflation in the United States. This has reduced the operating margins of many mining companies with operations outside the United States, as their costs (generally generated in local currencies) increase in relation to the value of their sales (generally carried out in US dollars). It has also reduced the value of both US investments and debts.

For Gold Fields, the impact of the weaker US dollar has been significant given that 54% of our revenue is converted into Rands and 16% into Australian dollars. During C2010, the Rand strengthened by 13% against the US dollar bringing its appreciation for the two years since January 2009 to 30%.

Similarly the Australian dollar rose by 17% against the US dollar during C2010. The appreciation of these currencies against the US dollar has negated much of the rise in the US dollar gold price over the same period. This dynamic has reinforced our commitment to tight cost controls. On occasion, we have taken out currency hedge positions, but these have been for a short, fixed period. No material currency hedges were undertaken in C2010. The company has, however, completed a US$1 billion 10-year fixed interest rate bond issue, which will significantly reduce our exposure to higher interest rates.

Transparency in the value-chain

Globally, there has been increasing pressure for transparency around mineral value-chains. This includes, for example, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the United States. The Act requires all United States and foreign companies registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to report on how much they pay governments to access minerals, and to disclose whether their products include ‘conflict minerals’ from the Great Lakes region of Africa. Although details around implementation are still in development, the Act is likely to have a significant impact in terms of reporting and value-chain management. We place particularly strong focus on anti-corruption, transparency and ethical value-chain management (p172- 175). This approach is not only needed to ensure compliance with relevant laws in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere, but also to protect the reputation and ethical integrity of gold itself. Already, progress is being made in this area through the World Gold Council’s ground-breaking Responsible Gold programme, of which we are a strong participant and supporter (p176).

Nick Holland
Chief Executive Oficer