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Gold miner reflects on Ghana achievements

Friday, 13 July 2018

Gold producer Gold Fields has invested significantly into the Ghana mining industry over the past 25 years, with shareholders, government and local communities that have and still are benefiting from the gold miner’s commitment to the African country.

Gold Fields has paid around $1-billion in dividends to its shareholders since the start of its surface operations in 1998. Of this amount, government has earned an excess of $100-million in dividend payments through its 10% ownership in shares since 1998, says Gold Fields executive VP and West Africa head Alfred Baku.

In addition, more than $1.2-billion was paid to the Ghana government in corporate taxes and royalties.

Speaking at the company’s 25-year anniversary celebration of operations in Ghana in May, Baku pointed out that, even though the company has been around for 25 years, the first three to five years were spent developing the Tarkwa gold mine.

“When Gold Fields South Africa took the decision to invest in Ghana in the early 1990s, the Tarkwa gold mine was the attraction. “Gold Fields took over from gold miner State Gold Mining Company underground operations and assets, and subsequently explored the surface mining potential of the concession.”

Baku highlighted that, as part of its corporate social responsibility, the company has in the past years of its operations improved the livelihoods of the people, and continues to lead and drive positive transformations within its host communities, as well as nationally.

“Operationally, we have turned the low grade Tarkwa mine deposit into a flagship mining operation that delivers returns to shareholders, including the government of Ghana, year-on-year.”

He pointed out that the Damang gold mine, in south-west Ghana, which was on the verge of collapse, was given “a fresh breath of life” with a $1.4-billion investment approved by the Gold Fields board in 2016.

He said that the Tarkwa and Damang mines create more than 7 000 direct and indirect jobs yearly, and this means that, at a conservative estimate of the multiplier effect, the company positively impacts on the livelihoods of between 70 000 and 100 000 people every year, mostly within the host communities and supply chain.

“Our communities have been direct and major beneficiaries of our social support, and the company has spent about $44-million in these communities.”

Baku noted that the money was spent providing access to potable water, supporting local farmers, building health and educational facilities, training youth and extending bursaries and scholarships to disadvantaged pupils and students.

Meanwhile, Gold Fields is currently busy with the upgrade of a 33-km public road that links the Tarkwa and Damang mines at a cost of more than $21-million, which “does not only serve the two mines, but also the several communities along the stretch”.

Baku said the road rehabilitation, which includes an asphalt finish with a life span of more than 20 years, is already creating job opportunities for local young people living in the area along the road corridor.

He also announced that the company plans to upgrade the Tarkwa T&A park to a modern stadium, as well as upgrade the Tarkwa Apinto government hospital into a first-class medical facility and a model for quality healthcare delivery in the region and the country.

The company had set up a committee to carry out the necessary feasibility studies and cost estimation for Tarkwa T&A park and Tarkwa Apinto upgrade projects.

Gold Fields, Asanko Gold JV

In March, Gold Fields announced the formation of a 50:50 incorporated joint venture (JV) with Canada-based gold producer Asanko Gold and to acquire a 50% stake in the Asanko gold mine.

The mine comprises a multi-deposit complex, with two main deposits, Nkran and Esaase, and nine known satellite deposits.

The purchase consideration comprised an upfront payment of $165-million on closing of the transaction and a deferred payment of $20-million. The acquisition will be funded from cash and/or by drawing down on Gold Fields’ existing debt facilities.

“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 optimisation of our operations, our focus on exploration, and the extension of our footprint in Ghana through our recent JV with Asanko, we see a Gold Fields that is poised for greater things in the years ahead,” Baku concluded.

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