"It has never been more important for companies to have a consistent voice, clear purpose and coherent strategy tied to a long-term view."
This is my first report as Gold Fields' CEO, and I can now look back at a very challenging year with the Company. The Covid-19 pandemic has entered its third year, and continues to have a significant impact on our personal and professional lives. It certainly continues to affect our people and operations around the world.
While we were able to mitigate much of the impact of Covid-19 on our operational performance during 2021, the impact on our workforce was devastating. During the year, 17 of our employees and contractors at South Deep, Tarkwa and Cerro Corona passed away as a result of contracting the virus. This brings the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in the Company to 20. Our sincere condolences again go out to the families, friends and colleagues of those we lost.
The pandemic also restricted my engagements with colleagues outside of South Africa to online platforms – it was only in January 2022 that I was able to start visiting our operations.
But even though most of my interactions were virtual, I gained respect and confidence in the abilities of the leadership teams at Gold Fields and the workforce reporting to them. My predecessor, Nick Holland, bequeathed me a company in good financial and operational health – one with significant growth potential imbued by the right values and a sound corporate governance structure.
Gold Fields' strategic shift over the past decade to move away from labour-intensive, conventional mining to focus on mechanised open-pit and underground operations, with majority international exposure, has served the Company well.
Our 2021 financial and operational performance is testament to the appropriateness of this strategy to current times. Gold production for 2021 was 2.34Moz, a 5% increase from 2020 and at the upper end of our guidance for the year. While AISC were 9% higher than 2020 – mainly as a result of the higher project capital and exchange rate movements – positively, they were at the lower end of market guidance. Attributable profit improved to US$789m in 2021 from US$723m in 2020, while normalised profits attributable to our shareholders rose 6% to US$929m (2020: US$879m).
Despite higher capex of over US$1bn, we still managed to generate adjustable free cash-flow of US$463m, pay a strong dividend of R4.70/share (2020: R4.80/share) and reduce our net debt to less than US$1bn for the first time in over a decade.
Furthermore, the reinvestment programme over the past four years has placed Gold Fields in a position where it can build on its current production profile to achieve annual output of 2.7Moz by 2024, with the addition of the Salares Norte mine to the portfolio.
The question now is: how do we build on this platform beyond 2024 and preserve the value we created? Gold Fields' executive leadership team spent much of last year reviewing the Group's strategy in terms of optimising existing assets, expanding long-term growth potential and aligning the business with the critical ESG issues confronting both society and our Company.
The three pillars of our new strategy, which reflect these operational, ESG and growth priorities, were launched late last year with the support from our Board of Directors. Pillar 1 drives the ways in which we will maximise the potential of our current assets through people and innovation, Pillar 2 commits to building on our leading commitment to ESG, and Pillar 3 focuses on growing the value and quality of our portfolio of assets.
Along with the renewed strategy, we also launched new purpose and vision statements and revised the Group's values. After receiving input from our employees, Gold Fields arrived at its purpose statement – creating enduring value beyond mining. We are in business to create positive and sustainable value for employees, communities, capital providers, governments and business partners that will last beyond the closure of our operations. At a time when businesses are increasingly called upon to deliver different things to a diverse range of stakeholders, our purpose will be invaluable in guiding decision-making.
Our new vision is to be the preferred gold mining company delivering sustainable, superior value. We want our stakeholders to choose Gold Fields over our peers; we want to be the gold mining company that investors choose to invest in, governments and communities choose to have mine in their area, and that people want to work for. More than this, we want to be preferred by shareholders because of the sustainable, superior value we deliver – value that lasts and is greater than the value offered by others.
Gold Fields' values have served us well over the years and did not materially change apart from adjusting delivery to collaborative delivery which, we believe, more accurately stresses the importance of teamwork across functions, sites and regions.
It has never been more important for companies to have a consistent voice, clear purpose and coherent strategy tied to a long-term view. I believe our work over the past few months have achieved this for Gold Fields.
Where we want to go I To be the preferred gold mining company delivering sustainable, superior value
How we behave while we execute our strategy
It is with deep sadness that in April – my first month as Gold Fields' CEO – we lost a colleague, Vumile Mgcine, a 46-year-old shaft timberman at South Deep, during a mining incident. There is no greater reminder of the overriding importance of safety at our mines than the tragic death of a colleague. My heartfelt condolences, once again, go out to Vumile's family, friends and colleagues.
As always, our commitment to health and safety underpins everything we do. We have recorded at least one fatality annually over the past few years. While this is a significant improvement from where we were a few years ago, achieving zero harm still eludes us. This needs to change, and our key priority in 2022 is to have no fatalities or serious injuries, which regressed from six in 2020 to nine in 2021, though the severity of these injuries is declining. This goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries is embedded in the performance scorecards of each employee and contractor and is driven by our safety and health strategy.
A noticeable trend over the past few years is the increase in mental health concerns in our workforce, with growing numbers of our colleagues making use of private and Company-provided support. The Company will focus more resources on this rapidly emerging health issue across all operations.
Turning to the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccination remains our primary defence against the impact of the virus. I am pleased to say that across the Group, 80% of our people were already fully vaccinated by the end of March 2022. Our Western Australian mines introduced mandatory vaccination in line with government policies, while our other mines successfully encouraged our people to be vaccinated.
We continue to support our workforce through, among others, educational awareness programmes, implementing stringent safety protocols, rapid antigen and PCR testing, and offering medical assistance if employees contract Covid-19. During 2021, our operations spent approximately US$22m on Covid-19-related initiatives and interventions, such as specialised camp accommodation, testing equipment and facilities, additional labour costs and transport facilities. A further US$7m was donated to governments and communities to assist in their fight against the pandemic, which included a US$5m Covid-19 levy imposed by the Ghanaian government. In 2020, the respective figures were US$30m and US$3m.
With these measures in place, coupled with new Covid-19 variants that appear to cause less severe symptoms, we look forward to returning to a more normal way of working in 2022.
As our mines accelerate their mechanisation and digitisation programmes, it is essential that we employ the right people to implement the technological changes impacting all aspects of our operations. Talent management and recruitment have become even more critical at Gold Fields. We focus on reshaping our workforce to become more diverse and more reflective of the demographics of our host countries. We are making progress with the proportion of women in our workforce, which increased from 15% in 2016 to 22% in 2021. However, we understand we have a lot of work to do to attract female talent in particular and, accordingly, set a target of 30% gender representation by 2030.
Amid the rise in the number of women in the workforce, Gold Fields is also committed to providing a safe and inclusive work environment for all our employees and contractors, free from any form of discrimination, harassment or harm. We take a zerotolerance approach to any form of sexual harassment or violence in our workplaces.
The need for a more diverse workforce with an appropriate skill set comes at a time when the pandemic has materially changed the relationship between employers and employees. Due to the nature of mining, the overwhelming majority of our workforce must be on site. We are pleased that our operations have largely adjusted to government-imposed travel restrictions but, in Western Australia, the closure of state and international borders led to an acute shortage of skills, high labour turnover and a sharply escalating wage bill at our four mines.
Most of our office and administrative employees continued to work from home for much of 2021. We are examining how best to optimise flexible working arrangements and opportunities for collaboration in an office environment.
Let me now review the performance of the Company in 2021 against the three new strategic pillars.
Gold Fields had a sound operational performance in 2021 despite some adverse external impacts, including continued Covid-19 restrictions, sharply rising input costs and a 10% stronger South African Rand and 9% stronger Australian Dollar against the US Dollar. The average gold price received in 2021 was largely unchanged at US$1,794/oz (2020: US$1,768/oz).
The Group managed to achieve its 2021 market guidance for both production – 2.30Moz to 2.35Moz – and AIC – US$1,310/oz to US$1,350/oz.
Attributable gold-equivalent production for 2021 increased by 5% to 2.34Moz (2020: 2.24Mkoz), a testament to the strong performance of our operations given that 2020 had an extra 10 production days following the decision to align production month-end with calendar month-end. Strong production increases at our St Ives, Granny Smith and South Deep mines were somewhat offset by decreases at Agnew and Gruyere. South Deep's performance, with managed production up 29% to 293koz and AIC down 1% in Rand terms, is noteworthy and builds on the strong production and cost improvements of the previous two years.
The Group's 2021 AISC of US$1,063/oz compared with US$977/oz in 2020, an increase of 9% driven primarily by the strengthening of the Rand and the Australian Dollar, as well as cost inflation. The escalating input costs were driven by higher energy and diesel prices, increased material costs, as well as sharply escalating labour costs, particularly in Western Australia. These inflationary pressures added an estimated US$50/oz – US$70/oz to Gold Fields' cost base in 2021. AIC in 2021 were 20% higher at US$1,297/oz (2020: US$1,079/oz), again due to the strengthening of both the Rand and the Australian Dollar, but also reflecting the ramp-up of project capital to US$375m at Salares Norte during 2021 (2020: US$97m). Excluding the Salares Norte project capital and the strengthening currencies, AIC would have increased by only 5% to US$1,089/oz in 2021.
As previously guided, 2021 was a high capex year for Gold Fields, with a total US$1.09bn spent – an increase of 86% on 2020. Growth capex for the year of US$513m was dominated by our spending at Salares Norte but also included near-mine exploration spending of US$104m.
Despite the higher capex, Gold Fields generated adjusted free cash-flow from operating activities of US$463m during 2021 (2020: US$631m). Adjusted free cash-flow from operations for 2021, which excludes project capital, rose to US$913m from US$868m in 2020.
Consequently, we further increased our dividend payments. In line with our dividend policy of paying out between 25% and 35% of normalised profit as dividends, we declared a final dividend of R2.60 per share, which, on top of the R2.10 interim dividend, brings the total dividend payment to R4.70/share in 2021 (2020: R4.80/share).
Gold Fields remains in a strong financial position. At end-December 2021, our net debt balance (including leases) decreased to US$969m from US$1,069m at the end of 2020. This translates to a net debt:EBITDA ratio of 0.40x, compared with 0.56x end2020. We have opportunistically reduced our debt given the recent higher gold price, and look set to reduce this even further during 2022, if stable gold prices are maintained.
Over the past four years, Gold Fields entered several gold-price hedges to protect our cash-flows while capex levels were high or to reduce relatively high levels of debt. The last of the gold hedging was completed in 2021. The losses on the gold hedges declined to US$96m in 2021 from US$240m in 2020. The Company still has oil price and currency hedges in place, and these have, for the most part, shown gains over the past year.
Our commitment to ESG issues – which range from climate change mitigation to gender diversity and are some of the most defining societal challenges of our time – is not only what society expects from us, but is also intrinsic to Gold Fields' long-term success. Our stakeholders need to know where we stand on these issues.
We have entrenched ESG as a business imperative at our mines and have elevated it as one of our three strategic pillars. Take climate change: by investing in renewable energy projects, we secure a significant portion of our energy supply and reduce our energy costs. Similarly, while rising temperatures have a damaging impact on the environment and people around the world, the impact can be equally severe on our workforce, host communities and operations (see our 2021 Climate Change Report).
Our stakeholders – including investors – require that we disclose the impact of ESG-related issues transparently, have mitigation measures in place and manage these issues in alignment with our business strategy. We took a significant step on this journey in December 2021 by making a firm commitment to a range of 2030 ESG targets. These targets are being fully integrated into our operations and prioritised for implementation this year.
The targets are headlined by a commitment to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions by 30% on a net basis by 2030 against our 2016 baseline. Taking cognisance of the fact that we plan to raise our production profile over the same period, this translates to 50% absolute emission reductions. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, Gold Fields, like most of its peers, is committed to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Rolling out renewable energy projects at our mines is key to achieving these targets and already contributed to an 18% absolute emission savings between 2016 and 2021 as the contribution of renewables to the Group energy mix increased from 0% to 5% (excluding hydro power). This is largely due to the two completed renewable micro-grids at Granny Smith and Agnew in Western Australia.
Beyond renewable energy, we are also looking at reducing emissions from our fleet of diesel-powered vehicles and machines to achieve our targets by trialling and eventually rolling out zeroemission vehicles. Scope 3 emissions will also come into focus over the next few years.
The Company also set ambitious new targets relating to its water and environmental stewardship, managing its tailing storage facilities (TSFs) and creating value for its stakeholders, particularly host communities. For its employees, Gold Fields seeks to further improve safety, health and wellbeing, and achieve greater inclusion and diversity by targeting a 30% female workforce by 2030 (2021: 21%).
The investment in decarbonising Gold Fields will amount to about US$1.2bn until 2030, of which about a quarter is expected to be financed by the Company. The remainder will be funded through power purchasing agreements (PPAs) from third-party providers. All projects are expected to be NPV positive. Further clarity on the costs, and savings, will be provided once detailed studies on these projects have been completed.
The capital investment required to ensure even safer TSFs at our operations and reduce the number of upstream facilities to three is an estimated US$325m. A further US$25m is likely to be required to ensure our TSFs comply with the GISTM.
Gold Fields will report progress against these targets as part of its annual results reporting each year.
While these targets are certainly ambitious, we realise that without this commitment to create enduring value beyond mining and positively impacting our local stakeholders, we cannot guarantee the longterm sustainability of our assets. Indeed, we believe that a robust ESG performance can contribute to strengthening our business case, particularly with regards to access to sustainable finance.
In 2021, we continued to focus on driving our in-country and host community economic impact. Of the US$3.59bn in value created during 2021 (2020: US$2.85bn), US$872m – or 28% – remained with our host communities through wages, procurement spend and investments in SED. Approximately 54% of our workforce – 9,330 people – are employed from our host communities. Over the past six years, we created between US$600m and US$900m in community value every year. Cumulatively, this amounts to almost US$4.5bn, a significant investment in the economic wellbeing of our host communities and their estimated 485,000 residents.
4SAFETY, HEALTH, WELLBEING
Gold Fields has a solid production profile of over 2.2Moz a year for the next 10 years. We anticipate that our annual production will grow to 2.7Moz by 2024 once Salares Norte is commissioned in early 2023 and as South Deep continues to build on its ever-improving production and cost performance. Our current portfolio of mines is well positioned to create financial and economic benefits for its stakeholders on a standalone basis for the next three years and beyond.
However, as we enter the second half of the decade, some of our other mines are likely to reach the ends of their lives and our production profile will decline beyond 2025 unless we preserve the production base we have created. We plan to achieve this by growing the Mineral Reserve and Mineral Resource bases of our existing mines through investment in near-mine exploration and valueaccretive acquisition opportunities.
The continued investment in nearmine exploration at our Australian mines and, more recently, at Tarkwa and Damang in Ghana has been critical to maintaining our production profile. We have generally been able to replace and exceed depletion of Mineral Reserves. Over the past six years, since the December 2015 declaration, the Group has replaced approximately 11.0Moz in depleted Mineral Reserves and added a further 4.5Moz through its successful exploration activities, technical studies and project investments. Gold Fields' attributable gold-equivalent Mineral Reserves were 48.7Moz at the end of 2021, a 6% decrease from 2020 amid mined depletion and higher costs impacting the cut-off grade. Attributable gold-equivalent Mineral Resources at end-December 2021 were 112.6Moz (2020: 116.2Moz).
A key focus of our work this year is to ensure we deliver the Salares Norte project on time – by Q1 2023 – and within the US$860m budget. By the end of 2021, we had completed 63% of the work and all the critical path items were tracking against plan. This is a significant achievement given the severe winter weather in the Atacama region of Chile and ongoing Covid-19 and supply chain constraints. The final US$379m of the capital budget will be spent during 2022 and early 2023.
Once operational, Salares Norte is expected to add 450koz goldequivalent production per year on average for the first seven years at AIC of US$465/oz (in 2019 terms) – one of the lowest in the industry.
The final pillar of our portfolio strategy has been to set up our South Deep mine in South Africa for safe, sustainable and profitable production. While South Deep was the hardest hit by Covid-19-related restrictions, it continues to report strong financial and operational improvements.
In 2019, South Deep stemmed its decade-long cash burn by generating US$15m in adjusted free cash-flow, followed by a further US$34m in 2020. With 2021 managed production up 29% to 293koz and AIC lower in Rand terms, adjusted free cash-flow improved even further – increasing to US$97m in 2021. Given South Deep's everimproving performance, we are confident that the mine is on track to generate long-term, sustainable cash-flows and profits.
Looking ahead to 2022, we will focus on implementing our new strategy and further optimising production and costs at our operations, as well as gearing up for the delivery of Salares Norte.
After increasing capex by 86% to US$1.09bn in 2021, this year will see another big capital investment for Gold Fields, with total capex guidance of US$1.05bn – US$1.15bn for the year, of which US$625m – US$675m is sustaining capital. Of the project capital, US$330m will be allocated to Salares Norte (2021: US$375m), which was 63% complete by end-2021 and remains on schedule for first gold at the end of Q1 2023.
Salares Norte will significantly impact Gold Fields' long-term production and cost profile, as the mine will be producing an average of 450koz gold-equivalent production per year for the first seven years at AIC of US$465/oz – one of the lowest in the industry.
In 2022, Group attributable equivalent production is expected to be at 2.25Moz – 2.29Moz, excluding our share of the Asanko JV. AISC is expected to be between US$1,140/oz – US$1,180/oz and AIC, given the higher capex, between US$1,370/oz – US$1,410/oz. Excluding capital spend on Salares Norte, we expect AIC of US$1,230/oz – US$1, 270/oz.
The risk of stoppages due to Covid-19 has not been factored into any guidance estimates, and the extent of Covid-19 impacts on either production or costs is indeterminable at this stage.
Subsequent to year-end, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact on commodity prices, including increased oil, gas, other commodities and gold prices. The oil price is a driver for a number of input costs for the Group, including diesel and transport costs, while gas prices have an impact on power costs and other commodity prices drive direct mining and processing costs. The Group has an oil hedge in place for 2022 that will mitigate some of the impact of an increase in the oil price on input costs.
Management considered the impact of the high inflationary environment in the business planning process used to determine the 2022 operational plan and guidance. However, further significant increases in oil, gas and other commodity prices could further increase the prices the Group pays for products and services and could lead to increasing costs.
Conversely, an increase in the gold price could increase the revenue for the Group and could have a positive effect on operating results.
Gold Fields' 2022 business plans are based on an average gold price of US$1,600/oz (R800,000/kg, A$2,100/ oz), while our exchange price assumptions are R15.55/US$1 and A$0.76/US$1.
Our Group 2022 Scorecard on the next page shows our key performance indicators on how we plan to implement our strategy and achieve our guidance. We also list the initiatives to support these scorecard objectives.
After a strong performance in 2021, South Deep is set to continue on the growth trajectory previously outlined. We expect production to grow by a further 20% – 30% to 345koz – 375koz over the next four years, with an increase of approximately 7% to 309koz – 312koz forecast for 2022.
As we continue to deliver into the Damang Reinvestment plan, 2022 will be the last full production year at the mine, with production expected to be approximately 230koz for the year. Thereafter, we expect production to decline to approximately 150koz in 2023 with production for the last two years of life (2024 and 2025) derived from stockpile treatment. In the meantime, project studies are underway to determine whether life extension projects are financially viable. We will provide an update on these projects later in the year.
Salares Norte continues to progress according to plan, and first gold remains on track for end Q1 2023. The plant is expected to take 12 months to ramp-up to full production. Based on this, we expect production of approximately 200koz in 2023, with 2024 – at almost a full year of production – to come in at approximately 550koz.
Production at the other assets in the portfolio are expected to be stable over the next three years. Taking into account the above, we expect production for 2022 – 2024 to be:
Coming into a new organisation can be a challenge, but the Company, particularly the Executive Committee, have been very supportive. We worked together well to develop the new strategy, and I know I can rely on their knowledge, experience and enthusiasm as we implement it.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my fellow directors – particularly our outgoing Chairperson, Cheryl Carolus – for providing guidance and support in my first few months especially. Furthermore, the Board's input and final stamp of approval was critical as we finalised the new strategy and 2030 ESG targets.
As announced, Cheryl will be stepping down in June 2022 after 13 years on the Board, including the last eight as Chairperson. On behalf of all Gold Fields' employees, I want to express our gratitude for her enormous contributions in guiding the Company through some tumultuous times. It is a credit to her leadership that Gold Fields is now in such good financial and operational shape, and widely considered to be one of the leaders in sustainable gold mining. Yunus Suleman will then take over as Chairperson and we wish him well in the new role.
Finally, our substantive achievements would not have been possible without the hard work of the approximately 22,000 people of Gold Fields. I have not had the pleasure of meeting most of you face to face, but I plan to do so when I travel to our operations this year, Covid-19- related restrictions permitting. I know I can count on your support, skills and experience as we embark on this new journey at Gold Fields.
Chief Executive Officer