Nationwide lockdown to cut Gold Fields production in South Africa

Mining giant Gold Fields has declared that it will lose 32,000 ounces of production at its South Deep mine in South Africa following a nationwide lockdown to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The international gold producer said the mine in Western Gauteng had commenced a staged incremental ramp-up plan, which included recalling employees, making the mine safe and implementing COVID-19 standard operating procedures.

The initial plan would be to operate at employment levels of 50%, with employment levels beyond that subject to further South African government restrictions being lifted.

Gold Fields’ overall output for the quarter ended March 31 was 537,000 ounces, down from 542,000 ounces a year earlier, with all regions tracking the annual guidance.

“The impact of the pandemic has been relatively muted on our operations, with production only slightly affected,” said the company in its latest quarterly operational update.

“However, the situation is fluid and there is the possibility of further lockdowns and restrictions in the countries in which we have a presence which may lead to production disruptions in future.”

In South Africa, authorities are planning to ease current lockdown measures which have been in place since March 26. Last week, mines minister Gwede Mantashe said that the majority of the country’s mining operations would be permitted to restart operations at 50% capacity during the lockdown.

Gold Fields executives and directors, including CEO Nick Holland and chairperson Cheryl Carolus, have voluntarily donated a third of their salaries or fees for a three-month period to South Africa’s Solidarity Fund, which supports government programmes to fight COVID-19.