Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s biggest investment banks, describes Gold Fields’ latest attempt to revive South Deep mine, which has already cost investors R32bn, as a "debacle" and has questioned whether heads should roll.

Shareholders punished Gold Fields, pushing its market capitalisation down by about R4.75bn after the company said it would fire as many as 1,560 workers as part of a plan to stem losses of R100m from South Deep, which has the world’s second-largest unmined gold resource, despite numerous restructurings and failed plans.

"The journey we’ve been on at South Deep, it’s been bit of a misadventure," Bank of America’s Jason Fairclough said on a conference call with CEO Nick Holland. "Where does the responsibility lie? Is it with the executive or with the board, and do we actually see someone fall on his or her sword for this debacle?" he asked.

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