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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Gold Fields chairperson Cheryl Carolus has announced that she will step down from her role as a non-executive director with effect from the annual general meeting (AGM) in 2022.
In her remarks to the 2021 AGM, which took place virtually on Thursday, Carolus said she believed that, after 12 years, it was time for her to move on in the best interest of the company and good governance, and to announce this timeously and transparently to enable the board to find a successor.
"Finding a successor to Nick Holland as CEO was an imperative over the past year and I believe in Chris Griffith we have found the right person to take Gold Fields to the next level," said Carolus, who expressed the belief a year was adequate for herself and the board to ensure a smooth leadership transition for Griffith, to have the necessary time for a proper search for a new chairperson and enable an orderly handover to her successor.
Carolus has been a nonexecutive director of Gold Fields since 2009 and its chairperson since 2013. The nominating and governance committee of the board will commence the search for a new chairperson shortly.
In her address to the AGM, Carolus commenced the meeting by paying tribute to the colleagues who lost their lives due to mining accidents and the Covid-19 pandemic since the beginning of last year. The pandemic has claimed the lives of 11 Gold Fields employees and contractors to date, while two South Deep employees have died as a result of underground mining incidents since January 2020.
"We expect that the pandemic will remain a reality for months to come, perhaps even years, and could impact our operational plans in yet unforeseen ways. The board has requested the group's management team to develop strategies on how we can assist in making vaccines available to our workforce, and, where appropriate, to families and communities, as well as continue assisting our people and business to adjust to this ‘new normal'," Carolus stated in a media release to Mining Weekly.
She added that Gold Fields placed a high value on maximising in-country and host community economic impact. The group's value distribution to national economies amounted to $2.85-billion in 2020, of which $677-million – 28% – remained with its host communities. "Over the past five years we have created over $3.5-billion in host community value, which is a significant investment in the economic wellbeing of our communities and the estimated 435 000 people who reside there," she said.
The board was working with management on developing a range of strategic environmental, social and governance (ESG) priorities ranging from safety to climate change, diversity and communities, owing to ESG becoming an increasingly critical consideration for stakeholders, particularly investors, "and we plan to publish detailed targets and timelines for these priorities later this year," she added.