SA’s faltering heritage of being a gold-producing champion has been brought into sharp focus by the proposed $18.3bn merger of Barrick Gold and Randgold Resources. Once, SA was home to the largest gold mining operation in the world; now it’s a shadow of its former self due to rising costs and policy uncertainty. But the good news is that if the merger is approved, it will create the world’s biggest gold producer, and it’ll be South Africans running the show. This is some comfort for a local gold industry in which there has been little investment: no new gold shafts have been sunk in over 20 years, and shaft closures are a regular occurrence. John Thornton, executive chairman of Barrick, which is listed in Canada, will continue to hold this position at the merged entity, while SA-born Randgold CEO Mark Bristow will become president and CEO. Randgold CFO Graham Shuttleworth, also SA-born, will become the new Barrick CFO. Randgold operates in African markets such as Mali and Ivory Coas...

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