This excerpt taken from the GFI 20-F filed Dec 3, 2009.
Economic, political or social instability in the countries or regions where Gold Fields operates may have an adverse effect on Gold Fields operations and profits.
Gold Fields has significant operations in South Africa, Ghana, Australia and Peru. As a result, changes or instability to the economic, political or social environment in any of these countries or in neighboring countries could affect an investment in Gold Fields.
Several of these countries have, or have had in the recent past, high levels of inflation. Continued or increased inflation in any of the countries where it operates could increase the prices Gold Fields pays for products and services, including wages for its employees and power costs, which if not offset by increased gold prices or currency devaluations could have a material adverse effect on Gold Fields financial condition and results of operations.
The South African government has implemented laws aimed at alleviating and redressing the disadvantages suffered by citizens under previous governments. In the future, the South African government may implement new laws and policies, which in turn may have an adverse impact on Gold Fields operations and profits. In recent years, South Africa has continued to experience high levels of crime and unemployment. These problems may have impacted fixed inward investment into South Africa and have prompted emigration of skilled workers. As a result, Gold Fields may have difficulties attracting and retaining qualified employees.
National elections took place in South Africa in April 2009. South Africa is a young democracy, with the election being only the fourth since the current political system was instituted. It is not certain what, if any, political, economic or social impact the elections will have in South Africa generally, or on Gold Fields specifically. Regional and national elections will take place in Peru in late 2010 and early 2011, respectively. It is not certain what, if any, political or economic impact the elections will have on Peru generally, or on Gold Fields specifically.
There has been an increase in union activity in many industries in the countries in which Gold Fields operates. Greater union activity may increase labor costs and the risk of strikes and may adversely affect Gold Fields financial position and results of operations. A number of unions in various industries have recently gone on strike in South Africa causing work stoppages and production losses. In Ghana, Gold Fields is currently negotiating with unions representing many of its employees and labor unions have recently undertaken strikes and go slow actions against other mining companies. The Australian federal government has introduced a new federal industrial relations system which increases the role and rights of unions in the workplace. Under the new system, the federal government has abolished the use of Australian Workplace Agreements and introduced a new collective bargaining framework that introduces good faith bargaining obligations for employers, fewer restrictions on the content of collective agreements and an enhanced role for union officials as bargaining representatives, parties to agreements and participants in dispute resolution. See Directors, Senior Management and EmployeesEmployeesLabor RelationsAustralia.
There has been regional political and economic instability in certain of the countries surrounding South Africa. Any similar political or economic instability in South Africa could have a negative impact on Gold Fields ability to manage and operate its South African operations. There has been local opposition to mine
development projects in Peru. Notwithstanding the fact that Gold Fields was complying with the commitments it had made to the local communities, in mid-October 2006, there was an illegal blockade of the access road to the Cerro Corona site resulting in a temporary suspension of construction activities at the site for 30 days. The blockade was accompanied by demands for increased employment from local communities and increased use of local contractors. In addition, the Cerro Corona site is located near the Yanacocha mine which is operated by another company. The Yanacocha mine has also been the subject of local protests, including ones that blocked the road between the Yanacocha mine complex and the City of Cajamarca, which also affected access to the Cerro Corona site. There have also been protests against a Gold Fields joint venture exploration project in Peru. If Gold Fields experiences further opposition in connection with its operations in Peru, or if protests aimed at other mining operations affect operations at Cerro Corona, it could have a material adverse effect on Gold Fields financial condition and results of operations.
As a result of its disposal of its operations in Venezuela to Rusoro Mining Limited, or Rusoro, Gold Fields holds a stake in Rusoro valued at approximately $48.4 million as of June 30, 2009 and is therefore indirectly exposed to the risks of operating in Venezuela. Venezuela has experienced intense political and social turmoil in recent years and there can be no guarantee that Gold Fields stake in Rusoro will not lose some or all of its value.