Since becoming Chief Operating Officer of New Gold this past September, I have experienced first-hand the strengths of our Company and, in short, what I understood about New Gold before joining has proven to be true.
New Gold’s strengths start at the top, with an engaged Board and exceptionally strong management team, distinguished by its agile decision-making and a collaborative spirit. I am delighted to be working with them.
I am also very impressed by our site teams. The employees at all our mines have a can-do attitude, a strong culture of cost containment, and an appetite for continuous improvement. These attributes lie behind their collective track record as strong, reliable producers who enabled New Gold to achieve gold production guidance and exceed copper production guidance in 2014, and drove our Company’s total cash costs to record lows. I want to thank the team for their hard work and achievements in 2014.
Importantly, our existing operations are generating cash flow that gives us the financial flexibility to invest in organic growth.
Working with our site general managers and their teams, I have identified areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement. Through 2015, we will enhance our health and safety program to facilitate improved performance. Our sites are already well below the industry average for total reportable injury frequency rates in the regions where they operate, but I believe as leaders, we have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment where our employees can come to work and go home each day without being injured. Our goal is zero harm; reaching it is a journey I believe is achievable.
Likewise, our environmental record is strong, and we have to keep focused on minimizing our environmental footprint which, along with good, mutually beneficial relations with local communities and First Nations, reinforces public confidence in our operations.
From an operational perspective, while New Gold is already a low-cost company, there are always opportunities to improve systems, processes and, in general, how we do our daily work.
I plan to augment our business improvement efforts by providing additional resources and a standard methodology which we can leverage to accelerate the good work that is in progress now.
Our efforts will continue to be focused on identifying constraints in the value chain at each of our assets and then applying our resources to optimize them. Productivity improvements in one area of a mine often lead to further improvements in another. For example, solving a constraint or optimizing our approach in the blasting function could lead to lower crushing costs and improved plant throughput at an operation. From my experience, constantly challenging the status quo through frequent, holistic examination of the business enables significant improvements to be realized. We will maintain a relentless focus on productivity improvements, cost reduction and generating the optimum return on investment for our shareholders.
For 2015, we are expecting to achieve increased production of gold, copper and silver at continued low costs. As COO, I view these targets as baseline expectations and through the benefits of continuous improvement and the efforts of committed New Gold employees, every effort will be placed on identifying ways to do even better.
I trust our investors, employees and other stakeholders are as optimistic about New Gold’s future as I am. I believe this is a company with a significant amount of profitable growth on the horizon, and the people, strategy and means to get there.