Gold Fields Going Shopping to Cope With Commodities ‘Bloodbath'

Gold Fields CEO Wants to Further Expand Footprint
  • Some good assets may be available in Australia, Carolus says
  • Producer looking at jurisdictions where it has a footprint

“When the going gets tough the tough go shopping,” according to Gold Fields Ltd. Chairwoman Cheryl Carolus.

That’s what she told a private-equity conference near Cape Town on Wednesday after attending the gold miner’s board meeting. “There’s a lot of good stuff out there that we can buy,’’ she said. Some of it may be in Australia, where the company “made some very smart acquisitions’’ last year, she said in an interview following her remarks.

“Gold Fields has shifted its strategy from greenfields to brownfields, which is one of our responses to cope with the general bloodbath in the commodities markets,” Carolus said. ‘‘We are obviously looking at low-hanging fruit, and the jurisdictions where we already have a good footprint are an obvious choice.’’

The mining industry suffered as demand from China, the biggest buyer of raw materials, waned last year, with gold an exception in recent months as investors sought more of the precious metal as a haven during market turmoil. Gold Fields’ share price has more than doubled since reaching a 14-year low on Nov. 18.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probed how Gold Fields sold a stake in its South Deep mine under a South African program to expand black ownership and ended up benefiting acquaintances of a convicted bank robber who had a role in the deal.

‘‘It was quite a tough one,’’ she said. ‘‘We really have looked quite carefully at how we got that business, not only the black empowerment side of it, because it is important that shareholders must be absolutely confident that what we do is best practice all around.’’

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