Gold Fields Reviews Kyrgyzstan Mine That Drew Attack by Horsemen

Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI), the mining company that spun off South African assets, said it’s reviewing a copper and gold project in Kyrgyzstan that was attacked by armed horsemen in 2011.

Gold Fields has appointed Jefferies International Ltd. to advise on the “potential strategic alternatives” for its Talas project, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. The study will consider options to boost shareholder value, without necessarily resulting in a transaction, the company said.

Gold Fields is seeking to bolster its balance sheet after mine shutdowns curtailed first-quarter output. The company and its peers are also contending with a decline in gold prices, which have slumped 13 percent this year as equities rallied amid weakening demand for haven assets. Talas holds 1.7 billion pounds of copper and 6.7 million ounces of gold, the company said today.

Drilling plans at the project were halted in October 2011 after an attack on a Gold Fields camp near the village of Aral in the northwest of the Central Asian country. Ten men on horseback armed with wooden sticks and petrol bombs staged a midnight raid on the site, burning down buildings and beating the camp’s security manager.

The mining company later signed a partnership with local villagers to give priority to residents from the area when hiring new staff and pledged to carry out economic and social programs.

Gold Fields completed an operations review late last year, which led it to scrap some projects in the first quarter. It’s among gold producers to experience curbed access to funding after the global financial crisis reduced available credit and gold equities tumbled.

Gold Fields dropped 1.2 percent to 55.93 rand by 10:06 a.m. in Johannesburg trading, valuing the company at about $4.3 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Biesheuvel in London at tbiesheuvel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Viljoen at jviljoen@bloomberg.net

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