JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Gold mining company Gold Fields, which has been trying to get a 40 MW solar power project approved for three years, is hopeful of approval being forthcoming in the next month or two, Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said on Thursday.
“The Minister has acknowledged the importance of this so I’m hopeful we’ll get the approval in the next month or two, and we can start the work. That can make a helluva difference, take the pressure off Eskom, take the pressure off the economy, reduce our carbon footprint, and even more,” Holland said in response to Mining Weekly during a virtual media conference.
The solar project will be at the long-life South Deep gold mine in western Gauteng, Gold Fields’ only remaining South African gold mine.
Half-year mine cash flow of the Johannesburg- and New York-listed company was $405-million, on production of 1 087-million ounces of gold at an all-in sustaining cost of $997/oz. The gold price in rands is currently above the level of R1-million a kilogram with costs at South Deep in the R660 000/kg range.
Despite the impacts of the Covid-19 lockdown, South Deep generated net cash inflow of R79-million ($5-million) for the six months compared with an outflow of R238-million ($18-million) for the corresponding period last year.
Half-year dividends of R1.60 a share already equal what was distributed for the full year in 2019.
As much of the 40 MW would be used during the day, it would represent between 20% and 25% of the average consumption of the mechanised South Deep, near Carletonville. At night the operation will default back to the national electricity grid.
Holland described environmental, social and governance (ESG) as critical for Gold Fields’ success and it was integrating energy, water and environmental stewardship into the business.
“Most of our shareholders now have ESG legs. They want whether we are reducing our impacts on climate change. Do we have projects to reduce carbon? You bet we do. We‘ve got wind projects in place in Australia,” said Holland.
Gold Fields has a 23 MW renewables plant operating at its Agnew gold mine in the middle of the outback, 1 100 km from Perth, in Western Australia, is taking note of the use of ‘green’ hydrogen to power trucks and will watch to see how that develops.
GOLD EXPLORATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
Minimal exploration is taking place in South Africa despite it remaining prospective and there being many calls for exploration to be encouraged in South Africa, including by the economic transformation committee of the African National Congress.
Questioned by Mining Weekly on prospects for gold exploration, Holland replied thus: “There’s a lot of gold at depth but these gold prices will take resources that are out of the money and they’ll put them in the money. So, I think it will breathe new life into some of the conventional mines, which I think it will be great for the economy, and help to boost the contribution of gold.
“I think gold came down to only 1% of our GDP. Hopefully we can do a little bit better at these prices. There’s lots of resource potential which we can bring to account before we have to bring out the exploration drill rigs,” said Holland.