Gold Fields warns of lower first-quarter production

2nd April 2024 By: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

Gold Fields warns of lower first-quarter production

Gold Fields says the January 2 fatality has affected the operational momentum at South Deep

JSE- and NYSE-listed Gold Fields on Tuesday cautioned of lower first-quarter production, citing operational challenges at the South Deep mine, in South Africa, and weather-related events in Australia and Peru.

The miner is forecasting first-quarter production of between 460 000 oz and 470 000 oz, but maintained its full-year guidance of between 2.33-million ounces and 2.43-million ounces.

The lower quarterly output would affect the all-in sustaining costs (AISC) and all-in costs (AIC) for the three months. Gold Fields said it would report the costs in its first-quarter update on May 23.

2024 AISC would be between $1 410/oz and $1 460/oz and AIC was expected to be between $1 600/oz and $1 650/oz.

Explaining the lower first-quarter output, Gold Fields said a fatality in early January had impacted on the operational momentum at South Deep.  This was compounded by reduced stope access, owing to increased backfill rehandling and a slower stope turnaround in current destress cuts.

The miner reported that actions taken to address these constraints were starting to yield results, with first quarter production forecast to be between 57 400 oz and 58 000 oz.

Further, the Gruyere joint venture with Gold Road in Western Australia had been hard hit by severe weather conditions that damaged a key access road to the mine. 

Gruyere’s first-quarter production is forecast to be 64 400 oz (100% basis).

At Cerro Corona, in Peru, inclement weather during the quarter had impacted the northwall of the pit, resulting in a resequencing of mining to the lower-grade areas. First-quarter output is expected to be 40 000 to 42 000 equivalent ounces.

Meanwhile, Gold Fields reported first production from its Salares Norte mine, in Chile.

The new mine, which is key to the company achieving its gold production ambitions of 2.8-million ounces by next year, has suffered several delays over the last couple of years.

“We are incredibly excited to have reached this milestone and delivered first gold in line with the updated project schedule, as we committed in December 2023. Salares Norte is a world-class project with one of the industry’s lower cost profiles and a payback period of less than three years at current gold prices,” said CEO Mike Fraser.

The mine would produce 250 000 oz at an AIC of $1 790/oz to $1 850/oz this year and 580 000 oz in 2025.  

Over the first five years of production, the operation is set to produce 485 000 oz/y at an AIC of $790/gold-equivalent ounces (GEO), while GEO over the life of mine (2025 to 2033) is expected to be 360 000 oz/y at an AIC of $820/GEO.

The project capital cost estimate was reaffirmed at $1.18-billion to $1.2-billion.

Gold Fields has taken Salares Norte from discovery through to exploration and development to production over the past 13 years.