Gold Fields

Annual Report


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Our business


Gold Fields'

attributable Mineral Reserves



    2018     Status     2017 2016 2015 2014
Attributable Gold Mineral Resources (Moz)   96.60         103.76 101.49 102.21 108.84
Attributable Gold Mineral Reserves (Moz)   48.07         49.01 48.11 46.06 48.12
Attributable Copper Mineral Resources (Mlb)   4,816         4,881 5,813 5,912 6,873
Attributable Copper Mineral Reserves (Mlb)   691         764 454 532 620
Attributable Gold-equivalent Mineral Resources (Moz)   108.22         115.60 113.10 113.94 120.04
Attributable Gold-equivalent Mineral Reserves (Moz)   50.26         50.80 49.20 47.29 49.55
Near-mine exploration (US$m)   90         87 79 58 58
Near-mine exploration - metres drilled   556,272         754,669 694,527 349,189 349,511
2018 performance improvement on 2017 or achievement in line with strategy
2018 performance drop against 2017
2018 performance on par with 2017
1 Improving the quality of our portfolio and ensuring that current levels of production are sustainable for the next ten years
  Strategic responses - Effective portfolio management  
  • Use portfolio management and strategic planning to inform acquisitions and disposals
  • Life extension through brownfields exploration and business optimisation
  • Implement business improvement and efficiency projects to reduce costs
  • Reduce costs through innovation and technology projects
  Key initiatives  
  • Implementation of restructuring programme at South Deep
  • Acquisition of 45% of Asanko gold mine
  • Feasibility study completed for Salares Norte
  • Skills development programme
  • Mitigating strategies in place to catch up on the backlog at Gruyere
  • Comprehensive near-mine exploration programme in place
  Related risks  
  • South Deep – organisational restructuring, revised business plan and the loss of investor confidence
  • A sustained and significantly lower gold price and currency exchange rate volatility
  • Non-delivery of Damang Reinvestment and Gruyere projects
  • Replacing Resources and Reserves at international operations

Managing our portfolio


Gold Fields manages its business with the aim of continually improving the quality of its portfolio and, ultimately, its cash-flow generation. From a strategic standpoint, the overriding goal is to generate a free cash-flow (FCF) margin of at least 15% at a US$1,200/oz gold price, which is an adjustment from the previous 15% FCF margin at US$1,300/oz. To achieve this, there is strict focus on reducing AIC and, as a result, increasing the FCF/oz. However, it is also imperative that the generation of cash-flow is sustainable. Therefore, in addition to lowering Group AIC, strategic decisions aim to extend the life of the Group's asset base and the overall portfolio.

To improve the quality of our portfolio, management employs the following elements in the portfolio management process:

  • Acquiring or developing lower-cost (than Group average), longer-life assets
  • Disposing of higher-cost, shorter-life assets that management believes can be better served by a company that has more time and resources to commit to them
  • Extending the life of current assets through near-mine brownfields exploration
  • Focusing on in-country opportunities to leverage off our existing footprint, infrastructure and skill set and capitalise on the experience we have gained from operating in these jurisdictions

Recent developments that improved the quality of our portfolio include the sale of Darlot in 2017, the acquisition of a 45% stake in the Asanko gold mine (AGM), and the continued investment into the Damang and Gruyere projects. Once Damang and Gruyere are operating at steady state, expected in 2020, Group AIC is expected to approach US$900/oz.

Quality portfolio of growth projects

By employing an active portfolio management approach, Gold Fields has built an attractive global portfolio of assets in Australia, Ghana and Peru, which have met or exceeded production and cost guidance over the past few years. At a mine level, this international portfolio of assets, excluding South Deep, generated net cash flow of US$457m (excluding project capital) during 2018 (2017: US$$485m), enabling the Group to report a FCF margin, which takes into account the outflow from South Deep, of 16% (2017: 16%). This is in line with our targeted 15% margin at a US$1,200/oz planning gold price.

South Deep is the only asset within the Company that has failed to meet expectations, with 2018 proving to be an extremely difficult year for the mine. After falling behind plan in the first half of 2018, management announced a material restructuring on 14 August 2018, with the aim of consolidating mining activity to increase focus and to match the cost structure with the level of production. The immediate target is to get the mine to break even at the current level of production (around 190koz per annum) and minimise the cash burn. Once this has been achieved, the focus will be on improving productivity off the restructured cost base and overhead structure, to bring the mine to profitability. For more details on the South Deep restructuring and outlook, see below.

All assets in our portfolio are subject to the Group's annual strategic planning process, which assesses how to best maximise cash-flow, life-of-mine, and margin. The results of this analysis are combined with the Group's capital profile and the current economic environment as inputs into our annual business planning. This process supported the continued investment in the Group's three key growth and exploration projects (Damang, Gruyere and Salares Norte) during 2018:

  • US$125m in project capital was incurred on the Damang Reinvestment project in 2018, after having spent US$115m in 2017
  • Gold Fields spent A$218m (US$163m) on the Gruyere project in 2018, compared with A$182m (US$140m) in 2017. Included in this number is A$153m (US$115m) in project capital, A$39m (US$29m) in capitalised interest, A$18m (US$14m) in operational support costs and A$8m (US$6m) in exploration expenditure. During 2018, the joint venture (JV) partners announced that there had been a delay to the project timeline (first gold now expected in Q2 2019), together with a 17% increase in the final forecast see below
  • US$64m on further feasibility study work was spent on the Salares Norte exploration venture in Chile during 2018. The feasibility study was completed and approved by the Board in February 2019 see below

Expanding our global footprint

2018 was the second year of Gold Fields' reinvestment phase, in which we incurred US$290m (excluding Asanko) in project capital (2017: US$217m). All project capital spent was in countries that Gold Fields currently operates in, allowing us to leverage our knowledge of the business environment. Importantly, management only invested in projects that it believes have relatively short pay-back periods and attractive returns.

Gold Fields also increased its footprint in Ghana during 2018 by acquiring a 50% stake of Asanko Gold's 90% interest in AGM for an upfront payment of US$165m (the government of Ghana holds the remaining 10%). A deferred payment of US$20m will be paid to Asanko Gold, should it achieve key milestones in the development of the Esaase project at AGM before 31 December 2019. In addition, Gold Fields purchased a 9.9% equity stake in Toronto Stock Exchange-listed Asanko Gold for US$17.6m.

While the Group spent more than it generated in 2017 and 2018, the cash-outflow over the period (US$2m in 2017 and US$132m in 2018) was lower than anticipated, underpinned by favourable hedge positions and a gold price received that was higher than planning prices. Despite the cash-outflows over the past two years, Gold Fields remains committed to its strategy of generating cash to reduce our debt, pay dividends to shareholders and share the value we create with employees, governments and host communities.

Gold Fields also has a portfolio of minority investments through a range of transactions conducted over the previous few years. During 2018, the Arctic Platinum Project in Finland was sold for US$40m, while we also bought a 9.9% stake in Toronto-listed Asanko Gold for US$17.6m. Asanko is our JV partner in AGM in Ghana. In 2016 Gold Fields injected its royalty portfolio into Toronto-listed Maverix Metals in exchange for a 32% interest. As other gold mining companies, including Newmont Gold, have followed our move this interest has been diluted to approximately 20%. A summary of our investments is in the table below.

Gold Fields' material investments
Investment Shareholding  Market Value 
(Dec 2018 – 
Gold Road Resources 10%  37  
Asanko Gold 9.9%  14  
Cardinal Resources 11.3%1 11  
Red 5 19.9%  16  
Maverix Metals 19.9%2 75  
Hummingbird Resources 6%  6  
Rusoro Mining 25.7%  13  
Lefroy Exploration 18.2%  2  
Magmatic Resources 15%  1  
Orsu Metals 7.2%  1  
Other   15  
Total value (including warrants)   191  

1 Gold Fields owns an additional 38.2m options valued at US$6.0m
2 Gold Fields owns an additional 10m warrant options valued at US$9.3m. Adding these warrants results in a holding of 20.5% in Maverix on a diluted basis

There were no further material developments regarding the Far Southeast (FSE) project in the Philippines during 2018. The project is held by Far Southeast Gold Resources (FSGRI) in which Gold Fields has a 40% interest, with an option to increase its stake to 60%, and is adjacent to an existing mining operation with established infrastructure. Lepanto Consolidated Mining of the Philippines holds the remaining 60% interest and manages the existing mining operation. Gold Fields impaired its investment in Far Southeast to US$92m in 2018, as determined by an evaluation of Lepanto's market value on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Gold Fields' holding costs in FSE have been reduced to approximately US$120,000/month, related mainly to staff and administrative costs, managing existing drill core, environmental monitoring, community engagement work, as well as activities to support the permitting process.


In November 2016, Gold Fields entered into a 50/50 JV with Australian exploration company, Gold Road Resources, for the development and operation of the Gruyere gold project in the Yamarna belt of Western Australia, one of the country’s largest undeveloped gold regions. The JV comprises the Gruyere gold deposit and 144km2 of exploration tenements.

Gruyere is a large shear hosted porphyry gold deposit, with combined total Mineral Resources of 6.6Moz and Mineral Reserves of 3.8Moz, 50% of which is attributable to Gold Fields. It is located 200km east of Laverton in Western Australia, where our Granny Smith mine is located.

Early work at Gruyere began in December 2016, with Gold Fields taking over management of the project on 1 February 2017. After remaining largely on track and within budget in 2017, the JV partners announced a slight delay to project completion and an increase in the final forecast capital (FFC) cost estimate during 2018. First gold is now expected to be poured during the June 2019 quarter (previously the March 2019 quarter) whilst the FFC estimate is A$621m (US$480m), a 17% increase from the previous FCC estimate of A$532m (US$411m). Included in the new FFC estimate are scope changes and force majeure costs (due to extreme rainfall events during 2018) of A$30m (US$22m) and a contingency of A$30m (US$22m).

During 2018, Gold Fields spent project capital of A$153m (US$115m) on Gruyere, bringing our cumulative capital expenditure as at end-December 2018 to A$246m (US$187m). In addition, capitalised interest of A$39m (US$29m), operational support costs of A$18m (US$14m) and exploration expenditure of A$8m (US$6m) was incurred during the year, bringing Gold Fields’ total spending on Gruyere for 2018 to A$218m (US$163m). The remaining project capital of A$129m (US$97m) (100% basis) has been budgeted for 2019, the majority of which is expected to be spent during the first half of the year.

In a project update released on 6 December 2018, the JV partners announced an increase in average annual production to 300koz from 270koz, driven by the purchase of larger semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) and ball mills which increased processing throughput to 8.2Mtpa from 7.5Mtpa. In addition, there was an increase in average All-in Sustaining Costs (AISC) over life-of-mine to A$1,025/oz (US$738/oz) from A$945/oz (US$709/oz) to reflect industry cost inflation since the 2016 feasibility study.

As at end December 2018, engineering was largely complete, while construction progress was 86.7% with all major equipment and materials for effective construction already delivered to site. During 2018, civil works on the TSF and installation of the tailings decant recovery pipelines were completed and the power station was fully commissioned. All civil and concrete works for the process plant were completed by year-end, with structural steel, plate steel and tanks nearing completion. Post year-end, the remaining work focused on piping, electrical and instrumentation and delivery of plant systems for commissioning of the plant during Q1 2019.

Downer EDI, which was awarded a five-year mining services contract in Q4 2017, began mobilising its workforce during Q1 2018 to begin construction of the mining infrastructure. Mining activities commenced in November 2018, focusing on completing the pre-strip and second stage run-of-mine (ROM) pad development. First ore was in Q1 2019, with mining rates expected to peak at 60Mtpa (100% basis) in 2023 and average 32Mtpa over life-of-mine.

The tenements comprising the Gruyere project fall within the area of the Yilka and Sullivan Edwards native title determination. The Yilka People and the Sullivan Edwards families are the traditional owners of the land, with many of their members residing in the nearby Cosmo Newberry community. The JV partners have a Native Title Agreement in place with the Yilka People and the Cosmo Newberry Aboriginal Corporation, which provides consent to mine. The partners also offer financial, contracting and employment benefits to the community, and have facilitated comprehensive processes for the management of Aboriginal heritage within the project area. A number of projects have been implemented with the Yilka People, including the provision of cultural awareness training for Gruyere employees and contractors. Key contractors at Gruyere have also been required to identify and pursue employment and contracting opportunities with the Yilka People to expand the scope of local participation.

First gold is forecast for Q2 2019 with production guidance of 118koz (100% basis) for the year at an AIC of A$3,178/oz (US$2,384/oz) (Gold Fields’ share only). A relatively quick ramp up is anticipated, with steady state run-rate expected by year-end.

Construction activity at the Gruyere project

South Deep

The key challenge for Gold Fields since taking ownership of South Deep in 2006 has been transitioning the mine from a conventional mining mindset to mining with a safe, modern, bulk, mechanised approach. Despite numerous interventions over the years to address the mine's underperformance - including optimising the mining method, extensive training and skills development, changing shift and work configurations, and outsourcing functions - the mine has continued to underperform and make losses.

South Deep got off to a difficult start in 2018, with production in Q1 2018 impacted by a slow build-up after the seasonal holidays, two labour restructuring processes that took place at the end of 2017 and Q1 2018 respectively, and a change in the underground working shift arrangements implemented to increase face time and productivity. In addition, low mobile equipment reliability, the intersection of active geological features (faults and dykes) in the high-grade corridor 3 and poor ground conditions in the western sections of the mine (composites) slowed production rates. South Deep only produced 1,485kg (48koz) in Q1 2018.

Production was further impacted by a Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) related safety stoppage during April. As a result of these factors, guidance for the mine was downgraded to 7,600kg (244koz) with the release of our Q1 2018 production update on 25 April, down from the original guidance of 10,000kg (321koz).

Despite the two restructuring processes, South Deep continued to face a number of organisational and structural challenges that directly impacted performance during Q2 2018, with production during the quarter only marginally higher than Q1 2018 at 1,518kg (49koz). As a result, on 14 August 2018, Gold Fields announced a further material restructuring of the mine. The aim of the restructuring was to consolidate mining activity to increase focus, and to match the cost structure with the level of production. This included:

  • Temporarily suspending mining activities at one of the mining areas (87 Level) and redeploying these mining crews into a different corridor (4W)
  • Servicing the eastern part of the mine from the Twin Shafts and restaffing the South Shaft operations to a single shift per day. South Shaft now only facilitates the provision of water and backfill reticulation, water pumping and ventilation services to the full mining operation
  • Reducing growth capital expenditure for an 18-month period up until end 2019 to reduce the cash burn. New mine development has outperformed the plan with 918m achieved during 2018 against 749m planned, which allowed us some flexibility to reduce this spending in the near term

As part of the restructuring, Gold Fields served a section 189 notice on its trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and UASA (formerly named the United Association of South Africa), on 14 August 2018, which is when the legislated minimum 60-day consultation period commenced. It was envisaged that an estimated 1,100 permanent employees and 460 contractors could be impacted through the retrenchment process. The consultation period ended on 31 October and Gold Fields formally served the NUM and UASA with a list of employees that were to be given notice of termination as per the section 189 process. Severance letters were issued to 1,082 affected employees, which prompted the majority union (NUM) to serve Gold Fields a 48-hour notice of its intention to commence a strike.

The strike started on 2 November and Gold Fields was granted an urgent court interdict on 3 November which prevented striking employees from intimidating other employees and blocking access to the mine. Despite this, the strike, which was orchestrated by a core group of about 200 NUM members and supporters of the South Deep branch leadership, was immediately characterised by intimidation and violence, prompting management to instruct all employees to remain clear of the mine property for the duration of the industrial action. The "no work, no pay" policy applied to all NUM members given that this union had declared the strike.

On 20 November, Gold Fields tabled an improved retrenchment offer in an attempt to break the deadlock and end the strike. The union rejected the offer twice before the regional office of the NUM suspended the strike on 13 December and signed a settlement agreement five days later. Through the restructuring, a total of 1,092 permanent employees exited the business, of which 904 were retrenched, 183 opted for voluntary separation packages and five resigned.

In the wake of the restructuring, which has seen us remove R800m (US$56m) from the mine's cost base and our employee workforce fall by 38% to just under 2,500 and the number of contractors from 2,294 to around 1,500, we are in a position to significantly reduce South Deep's pre-restructuring cash-burn during 2019. We expect to build-up gradually to a sustainable production profile from this restructured position. Guidance of 6,000kg (193,000oz) has been provided for 2019 at an AIC of R610,000/kg (US$1,394/oz).

The key enablers for sustainable improvements at South Deep are expected to be:

  • Improved organisational design with the right people in the right roles and a flat management structure
  • Rigorous performance management linked to line of sight performance
  • Improved stakeholder management, including government, trade unions and surrounding communities
  • Reliable fixed infrastructure
  • Accelerated backfill placement
  • Improved fleet availability and utilisation

Once this has been achieved, the focus will be on improving productivity off the restructured cost base and overhead structure, to bring the mine to profitability.

Salares Norte

The Salares Norte project is 100% Gold Fields-owned and is focused on a gold-silver deposit in the Atacama region of northern Chile. Mineralisation is contained within a high-sulphidation epithermal system, offering high-grade oxides. The project is at an elevation of 4,200m - 4,900m above sea level.

The Salares Norte feasibility study was completed in late 2018 and peer reviewed in January 2019. Gold Fields spent US$51m on feasibility study work and drilling in 2018 (2017: US$53m) with a further US$13m spent on district exploration. The findings of the feasibility study were presented to the Gold Fields Board in February 2019.

Key findings of the feasibility study include the following potential operational parameters for Salares Norte:

  • Initial 11.5-year life-of-mine
  • Annual throughput of 2Mt
  • Life-of-mine production of 3.2Moz of gold and 26.7Moz of silver
  • Average Annual production of 450koz gold equivalent for the first seven years of the project at AISC of US$465/Au-eq oz
  • Average annual production of 355koz gold equivalent for the first 10 years of the project at AISC of US$545/Au-eq oz
  • Project construction capital of US$834m (in current terms)
  • Internal rate of return of 25% at a US$1,300/oz gold price with a 2.2-year payback period from commencement of production

The project envisages open pit operations with a processing plant that includes both Carbon-in-Pulp (CIP) and Merrill Crowe processes due to the high silver content of the ore. The processing plant could deliver recovery rates of around 92% for gold. In addition, filtered and dry stack tailings will be used for safety, water scarcity and environmental reasons. Contractor mining is likely to be used for Salares Norte.

In December 2018, Gold Fields updated the project's Mineral Resources and Reserves, reporting a total gold Mineral Resource of 3.9Mt of gold and 44Moz of silver. More pertinently, a maiden Mineral Reserve has been declared with 3.5Moz of gold and 39Moz of silver. The gold-equivalent Mineral Reserve is 4.0Moz.

A final go-ahead decision on the project hinges on the outcome of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project, which was accepted by the regulator for review on 11 July 2018. The EIA entails baseline research comprising hydrogeological, flora, fauna and biodiversity studies, including research and recommendations on the protection of the endangered short-tailed Chinchilla in the area. Gold Fields anticipates the EIA review to take 18 – 24 months to complete.

This time period will give Gold Fields sufficient time to consider funding options for the anticipated US$834m in project capital. Depending on the timing of the EIA decision, construction could commence in late 2020 with first gold production in 2023.

A pre-development budget of US$81m has been estimated to advance detailed engineering, permits and early works during 2019 and the first half of 2020, while we await the outcomes of the EIA and the permit to proceed. As at December 2018, Salares Norte controlled about 84,000ha of mineral rights concession in the Salares Norte district and has carried out extensive district-wide exploration within a 20km radius of Salares Norte. It will continue investing in exploration in the area, with the objective to discover and deliver ore from these targets to the production pipeline from 2025 onwards.

Land easement for 30 years was granted on 30 May 2016 and water rights for the project were obtained on 29 December 2016, with the regulator granting Gold Fields access to 114.27l/second (more than double what the project is planning to use). Energy demand for the project is estimated at 12MW, with an independent power producer (IPP) operating an onsite 14MW diesel power station to meet this requirement. A staged approach to incorporating renewable energy sources is also being considered.

While there are no indigenous claims or community presence on the concession or the dedicated access routes, Salares Norte has embarked on an extensive engagement programme with three indigenous communities in the wider vicinity of the project. The principal area of social influence of the project - and, potentially, for recruiting labour - is the Diego de Almagro municipality, approximately 125km away. A long-term framework agreement has been signed with the municipality and its communities to govern the relationship. Furthermore, work protocols have been signed for the gathering of information and citizen participation process with two of the three communities, with the process ongoing for the third community.

Exploration drilling at Salares Norte

Damang Reinvestment

The Damang Reinvestment project is set to extend its life-of-mine to 2025. It entails a major cutback to both the eastern and western walls of the Damang Pit Cutback (DPCB). When complete, the cutback is expected to have a total depth of 341m, comprising a 265m pre-strip to access the base of the existing pit. This will be followed by a deepening of the pit by a further 76m which will ultimately provide access to the full Damang ore body, including the high-grade Tarkwa Phyllite lithology.

The project is on track to begin sourcing higher-grade ore from the Saddle area of the DPCB towards the middle of 2019, and then reach the bottom of the main pit in early 2020. The Amoanda pit has been the main ore source during the cutback of the Damang pit, with positive grade reconciliation from Amoanda being the main reason for the out-performance of the project during 2017 and 2018.

The reinvestment project, which commenced on 23 December 2016, got off to a strong start in 2017 and continued to track well against plan during 2018. Total tonnes mined were 45.9Mt in 2018 (2017: 39.7Mt) versus the project schedule of 41.5Mt, driven by a good performance by both contractors (BCM and E&P). Gold produced of 180.8koz (2017: 143.6koz) was 13% higher than guidance of 160koz, underpinned by the high-grade material from the Amoanda pit, while AIC of US$1,506/oz (2017: US$1,827/oz) was below guidance of US$1,520/oz. Project capital of US$125m was spent during 2018, on top of the US$115m spent during 2017.

To ensure sufficient tailings capacity for Damang's extended life-of-mine, a new tailings storage facility, the Far East Tailings Storage Facility (FETSF), with a tailings capacity of 44Mt, was commissioned in Q4 2017, on time and within budget. Decommissioning of the older East Tailings Storage Facility (ETSF) commenced during Q1 2018, and was completed during 2018, with all tailings now being deposited on the FETSF.

A sharp increase in Damang's production from 181koz to 218koz has been guided for 2019, with AIC sharply reduced to US$100/oz (2018: US$1,506/oz). Project capital for 2019 is expected to be US$69m.

Damang pit cutback


In March 2018, Gold Fields announced that it had entered into an agreement to form a 50:50 incorporated JV with Asanko Gold. In the deal, which went unconditional on 31 July 2018, Gold Fields acquired a 50% stake in Asanko Gold Ghana's 90% interest in AGM, associated properties and exploration rights in Ghana (the Ghana government holds the remaining 10% through the legislated free carry arrangements). Our 45% stake in AGM is equity accounted as Asanko Gold remains the operator of the mine.

The acquisition was in line with the Group's growth strategy of focusing on jurisdictions in which it already has an established footprint and can leverage off its infrastructure and skills set. A JV committee has been established which oversees the running of the JV.

AGM is a multi-deposit complex, with two main deposits, Nkran and Esaase, and nine known satellite deposits. The mine is situated 100km north of Gold Fields' Tarkwa and Damang operations along the prospective and under-explored Asankrangwa greenstone belt in Ghana.

Gold Fields' purchase consideration included an upfront payment of US$165m and a deferred payment of US$20m by 31 December 2019, or earlier if agreed development milestones at the Esaase project are reached. In addition, Gold Fields purchased 9.9% of Asanko Gold's issued equity on the Toronto Stock Exchange through a private placement, for a total consideration of US$17.6m.

During 2018, AGM produced 223koz (100% basis) at an AISC of US$1,072/oz and an AIC of US$1,183/oz. Gold Fields' share of the production for the period August - December 2018 was 44,500oz.

Guidance for 2019 is production of 225koz - 245koz (100% basis) at an AISC of US$1,090/oz - US$1,110/oz and AIC of US$1,130/oz - US$1,150/oz. The guidance includes oxide material from the Esaase deposit, which will be trucked about 30km to the processing plant. A feasibility study has been completed and the JV partners are currently deciding on the long-term development and associated ore transportation plans for the Esaase project in H2 2019.

An updated Mineral Reserve will also be released on completion of the feasibility study. Development capital of US$18m is planned for AGM during 2019, mainly on the development of Esaase.

AGM's sizeable resource base, with a life-of-mine of at least 15 years at 2018 production rates, is accretive to the Gold Fields portfolio, with the potential for further discoveries on the large, relatively unexplored, tenement package of about 540km2, held by Asanko Gold.

View of Asanko plant area