nickhollandMoneyweb reports that outgoing Gold Fields chief executive Nick Holland says his biggest regret during the 13 years he has been at the helm of the gold producer is the high number of employee fatalities.

Over 120 employees have passed away in the line of duty at Gold Fields, including nine who succumbed to Covid-19 related illnesses in 2020. On his first day as CEO, nine people died at the company’s South Deep operations when a vent hole raise conveyance in which they were travelling became dislodged and fell more than 60 metres. Within the same week, a driller’s assistant died in a fall-of-ground accident and another four other miners died following an underground accident at the group’s Driefontein mine. The company would go on to record a total of 47 fatalities in 2008 alone, which led Holland to declare in the company’s 2008 annual report that the company would not continue to mine if it could not guarantee the safety of employees. By 2019, he had reduced total group fatalities to one, which was recorded at South Deep. “That sort of hit me very hard on the first day,” Holland said on Thursday during an announcement of the company’s 2020 results. He said his commitment to safety once led him to shut down all of the group’s mines in SA and put 35,000 people on the surface because he was unhappy with “some of the things we were doing and had to do”. “Losing people to fatalities is something that shouldn’t happen in our game and we are all working hard to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries,” Holland said. He will step down at the end of March, and will hand over the baton to former Anglo American Platinum chief executive Chris Griffith, whom Holland says shares similar sentiments to him regarding the importance of safety.

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