Gold Fields is on track to meet its annual gold production guidance of 2.05 million ounces (Moz) to 2.10Moz after a “solid” first quarter, which saw attributable equivalent production increase 3% year-on-year to 515 000 oz.
Despite a 9% decline in quarterly production, all eight of the company’s operations exceed planned production for the three months ended March 31, CEO Nick Holland said in an operational update dated April 19. He said the first quarter is “seasonally weak” due to Christmas holidays.
Voluntary shifts worked at South Deep, its flagship mine, lessened the impact of the holiday period on production. The South African mine registered a 75% increase in year-on-year production while quarterly production was “only 7% lower” at 64 000 oz. All-in-costs (AIC) came in at R 616,706/kg – 20% lower year-on-year and 18% higher on a quarterly basis. The average ZAR/USD rate of 15.79 in the first quarter was 35% weaker year-on-year and 12% weaker quarter-on-quarter.
Managed production of 181 000 oz in Ghana, was up 4% year-on-year but down 3% quarter-on-quarter and AIC of US $1,028/oz were down 21% year-on-year but up 11% quarter-on-quarter.
Gold equivalent production in Peru fell 6% year-on-year and 5% quarter-on-quarter to 63 000 oz, with AIC of US $709/oz up 6% year-on-year but down 34% quarter-on-quarter.
At 225 000 oz, production from Gold Fields’ Australian operations fell 7% year-on-year and 14% quarter-on-quarter, while its AIC of AUD $904/oz were up 1% year-on-year and 9% quarter-on-quarter. The average AUD/USD rate of 0.72 was 9% weaker year-on-year and flat on a quarterly basis.
Total all-in-sustaining costs (AISC) and AIC of US$ 986/oz and US$ 961/oz respectively, are tracking below its full-year cost guidance. Annual unit costs are expected to remain largely unchanged from 2015, with AISC expected to range from US$1,000/oz to US$1,010/oz and AIC to be between US$1,035/oz and US$1,045/oz. “The average USD gold price achieved was largely unchanged year-on-year at US $1,192/oz, but was 9% or US $100/oz higher quarter-on-quarter,” said Holland.
He also commended the Ghanaian government for “creating a fair and competitive environment in the country” after reaching a development agreement for both Gold Fields’ Tarkwa and Damang mines. Under the agreement, the company’s corporate tax rate fell from 35% to 32.5 in mid-March, while its flat royalty rate of 5% of revenue will change to a sliding scale relative to the gold price from 2017. The company said a gold price of up to $1,300/oz would render a royalty rate of 3% of revenue. It is expected to announce its Damang development plan by mid-year.
The company will also provide the South African Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) with input on the empowerment ownership targets set out in a reviewed draft of the Mining Charter. ‘’Although the mining industry was not consulted prior to its publication, Gold Fields will engage with the DMR, through the chamber and appropriate structures, during the consultation period which ends on 31 May 2016,’’ Holland said.