The spend has not yielded the required results as South Africa's mines remained labour-intensive operations. The amount of labour did shrink, but that was due to lower commodity prices and a cost focus that resulted in significant job cuts across the sector. Nick Holland, CEO of Gold Fields, which owns the crown jewels in South African gold mining - South Deep - admits that in more than 30 years of looking at mechanisation there have been no easy answers. "It's not through lack of trying, so it is a challenge. If we can find a way, great ... I don't say it's impossible, it's just not going to be easy." The promise for South Deep has been a fully mechanised and optimally functioning gold miner - one that over a decade of ownership Gold Fields has been unable to keep. After buying the mine in 2006, the miner still finds itself struggling to get some of the fundamentals of the operation right, let alone seeing it operating at full capacity. "Our job is to try and get to this [productio...

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