The first six months at Gold Fields have been less than easy for CEO Mike Fraser. By his own admission the first quarter “wasn’t a good start”, headlined by a one-fifth output decline. That was in May. A month later, Gold Fields cut its full-year production forecast by as much as 220,000oz to between 2.2-million and 2.3-million ounces — about 10%. Gold Fields’s shares fell by a similar amount on the day.

The primary reason for the cut was the culmination of a series of delays at Salares Norte, the company’s $1.1bn, 400,000oz per year project in Chile’s high-altitude Atacama Desert. The project’s targeted production had already been cut last year, which forced it to extend the ramp-up into a winter that came early and caused the mine’s pipes to freeze...

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