Speech by Alfred Baku, Executive Vice President and Head of West Africa, Gold Fields
At the External Launch of the 25th Anniversary of Gold Fields in Ghana on 28 May 2018
Honourable Sector Minister,
Members of the Gold Fields Board,
Fellow Captains of the Mining Industry,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to express my profound appreciation and a very warm welcome to all of you for making time to join us celebrate this memorable occasion…25 years of operating in Ghana. We thank the God Almighty for how far He has brought us.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the CEO Nick Holland, and the entire management of Gold Fields, I also thank our valued employees, our host communities, the Ghana Government and its agencies, as well as the media for supporting us throughout this 25-year journey.
Ladies and gentlemen, when Gold Fields of South Africa took the decision to invest in Ghana in the early 1990s, the Tarkwa Mine was the attraction. Gold Fields took over from the State Gold Mining Company’s underground operations and assets, and subsequently explored the surface mining potential of the concession. Even though the underground operations tapered off to a close in 1999, our surface mining operations began in earnest in 1998, and have since not looked back.
We held an internal launch of this anniversary a couple of weeks ago in Tarkwa for our employees, at which event I listened to Emmanuel Incoom recount his story during his early days at Gold Fields. Emmanuel is one of the few employees who have worked with the company for the past 25 years. He narrated how he and his fellow Gold Fields colleagues, at the time, could not muster the courage to wear their Gold Fields-branded attire in and around the Tarkwa township. And the reason was simple…they would be ridiculed by Teberebie workers and the town folks.
The Gold Fields logo, at the time, had three people with their hands raised and palms faced upwards. The townspeople and the Teberebie workers interpreted this logo to mean “Ya’amfa hwee amba,” meaning “we didn’t bring anything.” Dressed in white “boubou”, signifying victory, Incoom told the gathering of how far Gold Fields has come, from its humble beginning to its present position as an industry leader. Today, he feels proud as a Gold Fields worker and wears his Gold Fields branded attire with pride and dignity.
Indeed, throughout the 25 years’ journey, we have improved livelihoods, and continue to lead and drive positive transformations within our host communities and nationally. Please permit me to highlight a few of our key achievements and milestones in the course of our journey in Ghana.
Operationally, we have turned the low grade Tarkwa deposit into a flagship mining operation that delivers returns to shareholders, including the Government of Ghana, year-on-year. The Damang mine, which was on the verge of collapse, was given a fresh breadth of life with a US$1.4billion investment approved by the Gold Fields Board in 2016.
Our Tarkwa and Damang mines create over 7,000 direct and indirect jobs annually. Even with a conservative multiplier effect calculation, we positively impact the livelihoods of between 70,000 and 100,000 people year-in year-out, mostly within our host communities and along our supply chain.
Financially, we’ve paid around US$1billion in dividends to shareholders, since the beginning of our surface mining operations in 1998. Of this amount, the Government of Ghana, having a 10% ownership through a free-carried interest, has earned in excess of US$100million in dividend payments. In addition, Gold Fields has paid over US$1.2billion directly to the Government in corporate taxes and royalties. Let me hasten to add that even though we’ve been around for 25 years, the first three to five years was spent developing the mine.
Our communities have been direct and major beneficiaries of our social support, and the company has spent approximately US44million in these communities; providing access to potable water, supporting our local farmers, putting up health and educational facilities, training our community youths, building critical infrastructure, and extending bursaries and scholarships to bright but needy pupils and students. Several accountants, doctors, engineers, and other professionals have been able to build their careers on the back of our scholarships and bursaries.
And who can forget our US$15million sponsorship of the Black Stars which enabled the team to qualify, for the first time, to the World Cup in Germany in 2006. Under our sponsorship, the team made two African Cup of Nations appearances and also participated in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, earning the punch-line; “BaGhana BaGhana.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we are currently busy with the upgrade of a 33km public road that links the Tarkwa and Damang Mines. At a cost of over US$21million, this road does not only serve the two mines, but also the several communities along the stretch. The rehabilitation, which includes an asphalt finish with a lifespan of over 20 years, is already generating job opportunities for community youth along the road corridor. When completed, it will stimulate economic activities and benefits for those even much farther afield.
We are equally excited about our plans to upgrade the Tarkwa T&A park to a modern stadium. A committee has been set up to carry out the necessary feasibility studies and cost estimation. The same committee will also undertake a similar exercise for the upgrade of the Tarkwa Apinto Government Hospital into a first class medical facility, and a model for quality healthcare delivery in the region and the country.
For as long as we operate, we will ensure that the growth and prosperity of our mines reflect positively on the Tarkwa and Damang townships and the surrounding communities.
While we look back to our 25 years of existence in Ghana with a huge sense of pride, we are even more optimistic about the future. With the ongoing optimization of our operations, our focus on exploration, and the extension of our footprint in Ghana through our recent joint venture with Asanko, we see a Gold Fields that is poised for greater things in the years ahead.
We thank our employees, our stakeholder communities, the Government and its agencies, and the media for playing an integral role in our journey and our 25 years of existence in Ghana. The journey has never been an easy one, but with God Almighty being our guide, supplemented by your continuous support and prayers, we have survived and moving on in high spirit.
Long Live Gold Fields; Long Live Ghana.
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