Creating a global, sustainable portfolio
GOLD FIELDS 2021 BSC KPIs
- Improve the strategic planning process
- Future strategy decision with regard to the investment in Asanko to be made by August 2021
- Improve our process as it relates to allocating and managing capital
- Advance Salares Norte Project
- Improve South Deep people and processes
Our trade-offs refer to the difficult decisions made during the year in the context of resource scarcity. Below are some of the significant actions taken during a difficult year to do so:
- Continued investment in near-mine exploration required to ensure life-of-mine extension at our operations
- Investments in less-risky geographies precludes Gold Fields from accessing potentially rich ore bodies in other countries
- Focus on sustainable and organic growth without the need of expensive corporate activity, in particular mergers and acquisitions
Despite the elevated gold price and buoyant gold market in 2020, we maintained our focus on delivering on the recent investments we made into our portfolio and, ultimately, increasing free cash-flow (FCF) per ounce of gold produced. Over the years, the Group has built a high quality, global production base by specifically focusing on low-cost, longer-life assets in a limited number of mining-friendly jurisdictions.
The Company employed various elements to refine our production base into one that will maintain production of 2.0Moz – 2.5Moz per year for the next 10 years at costs that are competitive with or lower than our global peers. Our approach to mergers and acquisitions focuses on acquiring or developing lower-cost (than Group average), longer-life assets and disposing of higher-cost, shorter-life assets that management believes can be better served by a company with more time and resources to commit. We continue to invest significant funds in near-mine brownfields exploration to extend the life of our current asset base and capitalise on in-country opportunities to leverage off our existing footprint, infrastructure and skills set.
Our overriding strategic objective is to generate an FCF margin of 15% at a gold price of US$1,300/oz. This is the principal criteria that drives our portfolio management process, and we will only invest in new assets if we meet this hurdle. In addition, we focus strongly on improving the longevity of our production base, and therefore endeavour to allocate our capital to projects or organic opportunities that will ultimately increase the life-of-mine across the Group. To this end, over the past three to four years, Gold Fields significantly invested in developing Gruyere in Western Australia and the major cutback of the Damang pit in Ghana. We will continue to invest heavily throughout 2021, with US$508m budgeted for the development of Salares Norte in Chile, which will materially improve Group AIC and extend mine life when it comes into production in 2023.
Gold Fields remains committed to its strategy of generating cash to pay dividends to shareholders, reduce debt and share the value we create with our employees, host communities, governments and capital providers. Our capital allocation priorities will remain largely unchanged in 2021, namely:
- De-gearing the balance sheet
- Funding the Salares Norte capital expenditure (capex)
- Maintain our policy of paying dividends between 25% – 35% of normalised earnings
- Increasing capex to sustain production at some of our key assets
Growing our global footprint
Over the years, Gold Fields has established an attractive, geographically diversified portfolio with nine mines and one project in five countries. While our strategy targeted expansion outside of South Africa since the unbundling of our legacy, conventional mines to Sibanye Gold in 2013, we remained very selective in choosing the countries in which to invest.
The Group continued to enhance its global footprint during 2020 by advancing the Salares Norte project in Chile to construction, with first production expected in Q1 2023. This project will add 450koz of gold-equivalent production per annum once it achieves steady state. Importantly, this production will come online at extremely competitive costs, further enhancing the quality of our portfolio.
With 20.5Moz of attributable gold-equivalent Mineral Reserves (excluding Asanko) being outside South Africa at 31 December 2020, our mines in Australia, Chile, Ghana and Peru are well positioned to produce 2Moz – 2.5Moz per year for eight to 10 years.
Encouragingly, the performance of our South Deep mine in South Africa continued to improve in 2020, despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the government-imposed shutdowns during Q2 2020 – which effectively lost the mine 52 days of production. The mine took advantage of higher gold prices to generate R558m (US$34m) in net cash-flow even with Rand gold hedges that capped the upside at an average price of R727,000/kg.
Damang into the heart of the ore body
Gold Fields reinvested almost US$370m in our Damang mine in Ghana over the past four years to extend the life-of-mine to 2025. The Damang Reinvestment project commenced in December 2016 and entailed a major cutback to both the eastern and western walls of the Damang pit.
Since commencement, the project has steadily outperformed plan, with the Amoanda pit providing a high-grade source of ore during early production years. At the end of December 2020, 48 months into the project, total material mined amounted to 149Mt, 14% ahead of the project schedule. Gold produced for the same period amounted to 756koz, exceeding the planned 647koz by 17%. Total project capital incurred as at 31 December 2020 was US$367m versus a budgeted US$345m, largely driven by the additional capital waste tonnes mined.
Project capex continued to decrease in 2020 with the bulk of the capital incurred during the first three years of the project. Non-sustaining capex decreased to US$6m in 2020 from US$71m in 2019, US$125m in 2018 and US$117m in 2017, in line with the project schedule.
From a production perspective, 2020 was a year of two halves. During H1 2020, production was impacted by lower grades as mining transitioned through the Huni sandstone lithology, which exhibited more variable grades than anticipated. The bulk of the Huni sandstones were mined out by mid-year, at which point mining activities moved into the higher grade (and more consistent mineralised) Tarkwa phyllites deeper in the Damang pit. As a result, both production and costs improved markedly during H2 2020. We expect this trend to continue over the next three years.
Encouragingly, Damang generated net cash-flow of US$66m in 2020 after turning net cash-flow positive in 2019 (generating US$24m) for the first time since the start of the Reinvestment project. The mine is expected to produce 275koz in 2021 at AISC of US$730/oz and AIC of US$790/oz. It is anticipated that Damang will maintain similar production levels with healthy cash-flows over the next three years to 2023, at which point production begins to tail off. As such, the team has commenced studies on a further pit cutback, which has the potential to extend the life-of-mine beyond 2025 by a further four years.
Salares Norte progressing to plan
The Salares Norte project is a 100% Gold Fields-owned, gold-silver deposit. It is located between 3,900m and 4,700m above sea level in the municipality of Diego de Almagro in the
Atacama region of northern Chile. Mineralisation is contained within a high-sulphidation epithermal system, offering high-grade oxides. The project is currently in its construction phase, and is expected to meaningfully change the future profile of Gold Fields by accelerating growth in production and reducing Group AIC.
Land easement for the project was granted for 30 years on 30 May 2016. We obtained water rights in December 2016, with the regulator granting Gold Fields access to more than double the amount of water that the project requires. The Atacama Environmental Assessment Commission approved Salares Norte's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on 18 December 2019. As a result, an updated feasibility study (FS) was presented to the Board in February 2020, which subsequently approved the construction and development of the project.
The estimated project capex of US$860m (in 2020 terms), to be spent over the 33-month construction period, will be funded from a combination of the US$250m equity raised in February 2020, the strong operational cash generation of the Group and existing debt facilities, if required. First production is planned for Q1 2023, with life-of-mine production of 3.7Moz
gold-equivalent over an 11.5-year period. Average annual production is forecast to be 450koz gold-equivalent for the first seven years, decreasing to 355koz gold-equivalent for the next three years. AISC over the life-of-mine is anticipated to amount to US$552 per gold-equivalent ounce.
Construction activities were relatively unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic during 2020, and the project remains on schedule. US$151m was spent on Salares Norte in 2020, including exploration and project expenses of US$30m, initial capex of US$97m and prepayments accounting for the majority of the balance. At the end of December 2020, engineering progress was 97% complete, construction progress 16% complete and total project progress 27%, all ahead of plan. The mining contractor began pioneering works on 1 October, as planned. Pre-stripping of the pit and construction of the processing plant commenced during January 2021, in line with the project's construction schedule. At the end of December, 87% of the project's scope of work had been committed to and priced, including 99% of plant and infrastructure orders and 95% of contracts, significantly reducing the risk of price escalations.
In addition to the Agua Amarga and Brecha Principal ore bodies, which will be mined over the initial 10-year period, there is significant exploration potential within the surrounding area. Salares Norte controls 84,000ha of mineral rights in the Salares Norte district and has carried out extensive district-wide exploration within a 20km radius of the plant site. During 2020, a total of 17,504m were drilled, focusing on the Horizonte Project, while additional work was done at the Agua Amarga North and Brecha West targets near the Salares Norte pit. We will continue to invest in exploration within the area to add to the production pipeline from 2025 onwards.
While there are no indigenous claims or community presence on the concession or the dedicated access routes, Salares Norte embarked on an extensive engagement programme with three indigenous communities within its wider vicinity and entered into long-term agreements with them. The project's principal area of social influence – and potential labour-sending area – is the Diego de Almagro municipality, approximately 125km away.
A critical element of the EIA approval was the relocation of endangered Short-tailed Chinchilla in the area. This work, which is carried out by independent environmental experts, is ongoing and we are in close contact with the regulator on the relocation programme. For details see Environmental stewardship.
South Deep continued improvement
South Deep continued to show operational improvements in 2020 despite the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, which included a government-imposed shutdown. In compliance with country-wide restrictions, we placed South Deep on care and maintenance during April 2020. While the mine operated well below its full labour complement for the remainder of the quarter, the workforce gradually ramped up to its full complement towards the end of Q3 2020.
Despite this interruption, South Deep continued to improve in most production metrics during 2020 as a result of several initiatives we implemented following the restructuring at the end of 2018, including:
- Purposeful Visible Felt Leadership
- Reinvigorating our leadership system
- Improving face time and increasing the effectiveness thereof
- Enabling logistics
- Implementing innovation and technology
The Siyaphambili intervention, a management and leadership programme focusing on the capacity and capability of our front-line supervisors and middle managers, continued to bear fruit during 2020. As a result, we reached the following key mining achievements during 2020:
- Destress square metres mined increased by 34% to 35,545m² in 2020 from 26,606m² in 2019. Longhole stoping volumes mined increased by 11% to 697,501 tonnes in 2020 (2019:
631,281 tonnes) as a result of improved stope availability, equipment productivity and increased stope extraction quality. Encouragingly, stoping compliance to plan increased to an average of 90% in 2020 from 79% in 2019
- After placing a record 426,338m3 of backfill in 2019, a total of 322,823m3 was placed in 2020 as the backlog was eroded. With this, we further improved stope turnaround time to an average of 4.8 months in 2020 from 5.5 months in 2019 and 7.8 months in 2018
- The mine's overall productivity improved to 303 tonnes per employee costed (TEC) in 2020 from 286 tonnes per TEC in 2019. Machine productivity decreased slightly to 72m/rig in 2020 from 78m/rig in 2019, but is still up from 59m/rig in 2018
The key improvements in production efficiencies over the past three years are depicted in the table below.
|Longhole stoping (t/rig)||12,968||11,966||6,708|
Despite the impacts of Covid-19, South Deep's gold production increased by 2% to 7,056kg (226.9koz) in 2020 from 6,907kg (222.1koz) in 2019. Encouragingly, the mine generated net cash of US$34m in 2020, which was more than double the US$15m generated during 2019. For 2021, we expect a strong increase in production (+28%) to 290koz. Furthermore, we are reasonably confident that we can increase production volumes between 15% – 20% over the next three to four years.
Over the years, Gold Fields has acquired strategic interests in a number of smaller mining companies. Taking advantage of favourable equity market conditions, we have steadily reduced these non-core equity holdings over the past two years. In 2019, we raised US$179m through these sales, with the proceeds being used to pay down a portion of our debt. In 2020, we sold our 16.4% stake in ASX-listed Cardinal Resources, which holds exploration rights in northern Ghana, to Norgold for A$37m (US$23m).
Gold Fields acquired a strategic 17% shareholding in Chakana Copper in 2019 for C$8m (US$6m). In February 2021, we participated in a rights offer that increased our holding to 19.9% for an additional C$3m (US$2m). Chakana Copper is currently advancing the prospective Soledad gold-silver project in central Peru.
Our current strategic shareholdings are shown in the table below.
Gold Fields' non-core investments (31 December 2020)
|Galiano Gold (formerly Asanko Gold)||9.8||25|
|Maverix Metals warrants||13|
|1||This shareholding was increased to 19.9% in February 2021|
There were no material developments relating to the Far Southeast (FSE) project in the Philippines during 2020. The project is held by Far Southeast Gold Resources, 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 Company of the Philippines holds the remaining 60% interest and manages the existing mining operation.
FSE's mining licence was up for renewal for 25 years in 2015. The Philippine government ruled that Free Prior and Informed Consent was required for the renewal, however, this requirement was overturned during independent arbitration and, in 2018, by the country's Court of Appeals. The government is appealing that ruling in the Supreme Court, where the case is currently pending.
Gold Fields reversed previous impairments of its investment in FSE, resulting in a carrying value of US$144m at end-2020, based on the fair value less cost of disposal of the investment, which was indirectly derived from Lepanto's market value on the Philippine Stock Exchange. Gold Fields' holding costs in FSE are approximately US$0.1m, related mainly to staff and administrative costs, managing existing drill core, environmental monitoring, community relations work, as well as activities to support the permitting process.
Life extension through near-mine exploration
Near-mine (brownfields) exploration is key to Gold Fields' strategy as it offers one of the lowest-cost opportunities for adding ounces and growing cash-flow, particularly on a per share basis. The value in near-mine exploration lies in:
- Knowledge of the ore bodies, which enables our exploration teams to identify extensions or additional ore sources housed within the mining tenement
- Operational capabilities, including Gold Fields' proven ability to develop and mine orogenic ore bodies
- Regional and operational infrastructure, including existing processing plants and regional management teams
We believe that brownfields exploration provides a robust platform for regional growth. In addition to growing Gold Fields' Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve base, near-mine exploration also extends the life of the Group's existing assets and ensures that each region can continue leveraging its infrastructure.
In 2020, Gold Fields spent US$76m on near-mine exploration (2019: US$73m), which supported a total of 367,600m of near-mine drilling (2019: 428,980m). We incurred the majority of this spending – US$50m (A$72m) (2019: US$58m (A$84m)) – at our Australian mines. We spent US$6m in Ghana, which is lower than the US$13m spent in 2019. Amid a renewed focus on extending Tarkwa's life-of-mine, and further resource definition drilling at the Damang cutback project we have budgeted US$9m for the region (excluding Asanko) in 2021. Asanko is scheduled to spend US$5m on exploration in 2021.
Looking ahead, we have budgeted US$101m for near-mine exploration during 2021 (excluding Asanko), of which US$63m (A$84m) will be at our Australian operations, US$9m at Tarkwa and Damang, and US$27m at Salares Norte.
Following are details of the near-mine exploration activities at our Australian and Ghanaian mines during 2020. South Deep and Cerro Corona do not undertake exploration on their properties.
At St Ives, total 2020 exploration spend amounted to US$24m. A total of 130,625m were drilled during the year, increasing Mineral Resources by 13% to 5.0Moz and Mineral Reserves by 17% to 2.7Moz, net of depletion.
- 17% increase in Mineral Reserves
- 13% increase in Mineral Resources
- Extended Invincible complex both laterally and at depth
ST IVES MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON Gold (Moz)
We spent US$14m on exploration at Agnew during 2020, with a total of 59,967m drilled during the year. Encouragingly, Agnew managed to replace Mineral Reserves after depletion again. Mineral Resources increased by 26% to 3.2Moz, while Mineral Reserves increased by 19% to 917koz. Agnew is now in the strongest position it has been since December 2013.
The enhanced focus on exploration over the past few years is starting to yield extremely encouraging results, and Agnew's outlook is increasingly positive. The Waroonga North ore body continued to grow laterally and at depth during 2020. Additional Mineral Resources were also declared at Redeemer Zone 2, which declared its maiden Mineral Reserve in 2019. We are also seeing further extensions of Genesis and Sheba at New Holland.
- 19% increase in Mineral Reserves
- 26% increase in Mineral Resources
- Additional Mineral Resources declared at Redeemer Zone 2
- Waroonga North growing laterally and at depth
AGNEW MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON
Total exploration spend at Granny Smith amounted to US$11m in 2020, with a total of 71,748m drilled during the year. Mineral Resources decreased nominally by 375koz (4.5%), while Mineral Reserves increased by 4.3% post-depletion to 2.2Moz.
- 4.3% increase in Mineral Reserves
- 4.5% decrease in Mineral Resources
GRANNY SMITH MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON
Gold Fields' exploration allocation to the Gruyere JV amounted to US$1m in 2020, with a total of 14,221m drilled during the year. Gold Fields' 50% share of the Mineral Resources increased nominally by 1% to 46koz, while total allocated Mineral Reserves decreased by 3% post-depletion to 1.7Moz.
- 3.2% decrease in Mineral Reserves
- 1.4% decrease in open-pit Mineral Resources
GRUYERE MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON
Gold Fields spent US$6m in near-mine exploration at Tarkwa during the year, drilling 27,969m. Encouragingly, and continuing a trend from 2019, Tarkwa again replaced depletion in 2020. Tarkwa's Mineral Reserves increased by 3% to 6.1Moz while Mineral Resources declined by 2% to 10.6Moz.
- 3% increase in Mineral Reserves
- 2% decreased in Mineral Resources
TARKWA MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON
While we focused on implementing the Damang Reinvestment project, Gold Fields also spent US$0.4m in near-mine exploration at Damang during the year. A total of 357m were drilled. Despite the exploration effort, Mineral Resources decreased by 4% to 5.7Moz and Mineral Reserves by 24% to 1.0Moz, net of depletion.
- 24% decrease in Mineral Reserves
- 4% decrease in Mineral Resources
DAMANG MINERAL RESERVES RECONCILIATON
MINERAL RESOURCES AND MINERAL RESERVES SUMMARY
The management of the Company's Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves is central to delivering on its strategic goals and key performance targets. The Group continued with its strategy of focusing on near-mine exploration to extend mine life during the year. The multi-year investment in exploration has delivered one of the best operational Mineral Reserves replacement years for Gold Fields during 2020 on the back of an equally good performance in 2019.
The emphasis at all mine sites is to drive the Mineral Resources to Mineral Reserves conversion, strive for Mineral Reserves growth that replaces annual depletion, improve cash-flow and cost per ounce, and to deliver on the strategic opportunities to extend the life-of-mines.
The Covid-19 pandemic affected the Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve reporting cycle. Nevertheless, the regions were able to complete the drilling, resource modelling, technical studies and life-of-mine planning as scheduled. In 2020, both Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves increased post annual depletion, which continues a consistent multi-year performance. Since the December 2015 declaration, the Group has replaced 11.5Moz in depleted Mineral Reserves and added a further 4.5Moz through successful exploration activities, technical studies and project investment, equating to a 9% growth in Mineral Reserves over this period, net of annual depletions.
The Group-managed gold Mineral Resource, including Far Southeast in the Philippines, is 124.1Moz (2019: 123.4Moz) and the gold-managed Mineral Reserve is 54.3Moz (2019: 53.2Moz) for operating mines and the Salares Norte project, but excluding the Asanko JV in the 2020 number.
The Group-managed Mineral Resource, including Far Southeast, and reporting all metal as gold equivalent ounces, is 149.1Moz (2019: 148.7Moz) and the Mineral Reserve is 56.1Moz (2019: 55.2Moz). The attributable gold Mineral Resource for operating mines and Salares Norte, but excluding both Asanko and Far Southeast, has increased year-on-year by circa 1% to 96.7Moz (2019: 96.1Moz). The attributable gold Mineral Reserve reflects a 2.0% increase to 50.3Moz (2019: 49.3Moz), both net of 2.2Moz annual production depletion during 2020.
Notable Mineral Resource highlights during 2020 were increases of 26% at Agnew, 13% at St Ives and 4% at South Deep, net of annual depletion. Mineral Reserve highlights includes increases of 19% at Agnew, 17% at St Ives, 6% at South Deep, 4% at Granny Smith and 3% at Tarkwa, also net of annual depletion. This reflects the largest Mineral Reserve at St Ives since 2011, the largest Mineral Reserve at Agnew since 2014, and the second consecutive year Tarkwa fully replaced Mineral Reserve depletion in the last six years.
The gold price used for the 2020 estimates increased to US$1,500/oz (2019: US$1,400/oz) for Mineral Resources and to US$1,300/oz (2019: US$1,200/oz) for Mineral Reserves, and are aligned to the long-term market consensus forecast and prices used by peer group companies. Copper and silver prices used for the estimates were unchanged year-on-year at US$3.2/lb and US$20/oz, respectively, for Mineral Resources and US$2.8/lb and US$17.5/oz, respectively, for Mineral Reserves.
The consolidated summary of Gold Fields' Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves in this section should be read in conjunction with the Gold Fields Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve Supplement (the Supplement), which can be found on our website at www.goldfields.com/integrated-annual-reports.php. The Supplement sets out important and detailed technical information on the Company's Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves as at 31 December 2020. It is prepared in line with the South African Code for the Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves, 2016 edition (SAMREC Code) and other leading standards as well as stock exchange regulations.
The Mineral Resource and Mineral Reserve statements have been reviewed and approved by the Group Competent Person, Tim Rowland, who is a member of Gold Fields' Corporate Technical Services team.
Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves estimates
|Mineral Resources (100%)||Mineral Reserves (100%)||2020|
|31 Dec 2020||Dec 2019||31 Dec 2020||Dec 2019||Attributable|
|Total Australia region||183,1||3,30||19,433||18,544||86,8||2,68||7,487||6,928||19,433||7,487|
|South Africa region|
|Total South Africa region||382,5||5,10||62,684||60,130||205,7||5,27||34,834||32,817||56,753||31,538|
|Total Americas region||130,4||1,38||5,803||6,126||88,1||1,71||4,844||5,029||5,794||4,838|
|West Africa region|
|Total West Africa region||380,1||1,34||16,333||18,762||218,8||1,01||7,127||8,432||14,700||6,414|
|Total Gold Managed||1 076,1||3,01||104,254||103,562||599,4||2,82||54,292||53,207|
|Total Gold attributable||–||–||96,680||96,080||–||–||50,276||49,302||96,680||50,276|
|(Mt)||(% Cu)||(Mlb)||(Mlb)||(Mt)||(% Cu)||(Mlb)||(Mlb)||(Mlb)||(Mlb)|
|Total Gold-eq (koz)||–||–||149,100||148,700||–||–||56,100||55,200||116,000||52,100|