South Africa’s Leading Gold Miner Prepares for CEO Succession Amid Transition to Copper

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Harmony Gold Mining CEO Peter Steenkamp to Retire in 2024

Peter Steenkamp, the CEO of Harmony Gold Mining, is set to retire at the end of next year as South Africa’s largest gold producer by volume charts a new course focused on copper mining. Steenkamp, who will turn 64 in November, has been leading Harmony since his return in 2016. In 2022, his tenure was extended by two years. The company announced that Steenkamp will step down around December 2024.

Transitioning to Copper Mining

Despite Steenkamp’s impending retirement, Harmony Gold Mining remains committed to its strategy of shifting toward copper mining and actively seeking opportunities for expansion. According to Jared Coetzer, a company spokesperson, Harmony has strong internal candidates to continue the work initiated since 2016. Coetzer emphasized that the change in leadership won’t alter their strategic focus on developing copper assets and pursuing growth through deals and acquisitions.

Challenges in Finding a Successor

Analysts at RMB Morgan Stanley suggest that finding an external candidate with extensive experience in deep-level gold mining could prove challenging. Harmony Gold Mining is one of the few South African gold miners still operating in some of the world’s costliest, aging, and deepest gold mines.

Harmony’s Shift to Copper and Expansion Plans

Harmony Gold Mining has redirected its attention to developing new gold-copper assets in Australia and Papua New Guinea. This strategic shift is driven by safety challenges in South African underground mines, frequent electricity outages, and rising crime rates affecting profitability.

The company intends to invest approximately $600 million in constructing a new mine at the Eva copper project in Australia, which it acquired last year. Additionally, Harmony plans to advance the Wafi-Golpu copper project in Papua New Guinea, a joint venture with Newcrest Mining, once it receives regulatory approvals from the local authorities.

As Harmony Gold Mining navigates this leadership transition, it seeks to solidify its position as a significant player in the copper mining sector, while continuing its legacy in gold mining.

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