By Felix Njini
NAIROBI (Reuters) – Harmony Gold Mining boss Peter Steenkamp plans to retire at the end of next year as South Africa’s biggest gold producer by volume seeks new growth opportunities mining copper.
Steenkamp, who turns 64 in November, has been at the helm at Harmony since returning in 2016. In 2022, the company extended the veteran gold mining executive’s tenure by two years.
Steenkamp will leave around December 2024 and the company has “strong internal candidates to continue what we have built since 2016,” spokesperson Jared Coetzer told Reuters.
Steenkamp’s pending exit doesn’t change the strategy to shift to developing copper assets and looking for deals to grow the company, Coetzer added.
“There are various internal candidates who would have to go through the nomination process and ultimately it would be a board decision,” Coetzer said.
Harmony is among South Africa’s few remaining gold miners squeezing profits from some of the world’s most costly, ageing and deepest gold mines.
It could be “difficult to find outsiders with deep-level gold mining experience” to run the company, analysts at RMB Morgan Stanley said in a note.
The Johannesburg-based producer has shifted focus to developing new gold-copper assets in Australia and Papua New Guinea as profits at home are hit by safety challenges at underground mines, rolling electricity outages and rising crime.
Harmony plans to spend about $600 million to build a new mine at the Eva copper project in Australia it bought last year.
It also plans to advance the Wafi-Golpu copper project in Papua New Guinea, jointly owned with Newcrest Mining, once the country’s authorities grant regulatory approvals.
(Reporting by Felix Njini; Editing by Mark Potter)