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Gold Fields spends big, adds more jobs - The West Australian - Yahoo!7 News (Licensed by Copyright Agency)

Friday, 30 October 2015

South Africa’s Gold Fields has revealed plans to spend between $85 million and $89 million on exploration at its Australian operations next year.

The St Ives operations will take the lion’s share, with between $35 million and $40 million earmarked for the Kambalda gold camp, which has produced more than 11 million ounces over the past three decades.

Budget deliberations, which will need to be approved by the Johannesburg-based board early next year, were held in Perth last week.

Gold Fields executive vice-president Australasia Richard Weston said this year’s exploration expenditure was about $85 million, spread across the St Ives, Granny Smith, Agnew and Darlot operations.

“The plan is to do the same again next year,” he said. “We’ve made a significant investment in Australia and if you don’t explore you could end up wasting it.

“We think we’ve got a bright future at all four of our mines.”

Mr Weston also revealed Gold Fields was set to create 80 new jobs by ramping up the Neptune open pit at St Ives next month.

St Ives was operating four open pit and four underground mines last year when general manager Graeme Ovens took on the top job. Next year there will be just three — the Invincible and Neptune open pits and the Hamlet underground mine.

The high-grade Invincible discovery has so far lived up to its name, delivering 130,000oz since December.

The Athena underground mine will reach the end of its life early next year, which follows the closure of Cave Rocks in April and Argo last year.

“Our focus at St Ives will be exploring for high-grade underground resources … ideally you would be able to find high-grade open pits but they’re rare,” Mr Weston said.

“It will be near-mine exploration and trying to build on our recent successes, like Invincible.”

The Neptune ramp up is timely for Kambalda, which has been hit by more than 200 job losses in the nickel industry this year.

BHP Billiton Nickel West yesterday confirmed it had halved the number of personnel at its Kambalda concentrator after completing a three-week consultation process with 37 workers.

The majority, 26 in all, have been redeployed to the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter.

The remaining workers are still in discussions with BHP about potential redundancies and redeployment within Nickel West operations.

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