Battlefields of Gold, by Rex Gibson
In his book Battlefields of Gold, Rex Gibson tells the story of 25 tumultuous years in the life of Gold Fields, one of the world’s great mining companies.
This is the story of 25 years in the life of a gold mining company - a mere blink in history's eye. Yet it is a period so rich in drama and incident that it is almost as if a lifetime and more has been compressed into it. It is not, however, a conventional company history. Company histories tend to sanitise the past, glossing over blips and modifying the bumps. Thanks to the decision of the people who commissioned this book, it is licensed to be a 'warts and all' account. I can't guarantee that I have succeeded in that, but I can guarantee that I have tried. And I can confirm that not one word of it has been changed simply to protect the company's image. For better or worse, the attempt at a balanced account is my own. It's no secret that official company announcements often conceal as much as they reveal. In writing the story of a major company, therefore, there is one rule of thumb for a writer: the more bland the official announcement, the more likely it is that it is hiding something. Some human drama, perhaps, or boardroom battle, or clash of personalities. This is not cynicism but simple realism. Nobody expects a great enterprise to wash its dirty linen in public. The object of official statements is to inform people, not titillate them. It is not necessary to record that some new development was pushed through the board over the dead bodies of several directors. Nor is it necessary to add the words 'good riddance' to a warm valedictory message for some departing employee. Not necessary at all - but that is to eliminate half the excitement and much of the truth of what really happens in the necessarily ruthless world of Big Business. The exercise has been made more intriguing by three things: the fact that many company records predating the year 2000 have disappeared; that human memories are fallible; and that people's perceptions of themselves nearly always differ from the perceptions of others. Sometimes the chasm is a mile wide. I have made no attempt to reconcile contradictory views. Readers can draw their own conclusions. Perceptions become reality even when they are not correct. They colour decisions and have a profound influence on the direction of a business enterprise. Every step away from a previous path represents, by definition, a rejection of an old idea. It cannot help but be controversial. There is a final reason why this is not a conventional company history. Time will provide an ultimate judgment on whether Gold Fields has secured its future for another hundred years. Too much is too recent for sweeping conclusions at the moment. But some facts are clear, even now. The company is determined to succeed. Its leadership believes it is on the right track. There is a discernible vigour in its actions and its recent annual reports present an optimistic face. As ever, it gets its vitality and sense of purpose - its weaknesses and strengths too - from the interplay between strong characters in leadership positions. Strong leaders clash; it has always been thus. Paradoxically, progress requires harmony and team spirit on the one hand; conflict and contestation on the other. Both ingredients are crucial. The jury of history will decide whether the formula has worked. But it looks promising. Between February 1987, when Gold Fields celebrated its centenary, and February 2012, when a considerably different company with much the same name celebrated its 125th birthday, the face of the world changed. The Berlin Wall came tumbling down, international boundaries disappeared, political philosophies died, the Cold War ended. A new (and somewhat shaky) United States of Europe emerged to challenge, tentatively, the hegemony of the United States of America. The rise of the Asian Tigers tilted the balance of global economic power. The sleeping giant of China began to stir. [...]
This is an excerpt from the book: Battlefields of Gold, by Rex Gibson.
Title: Battlefields of Gold
Author: Rex Gibson
Publisher: Jonathan Ball
Cape Town / Johannesburg, South Africa, 2012
ISBN 9781868425143 / ISBN 978-1-86842-514-3
Hardcover, dust jacket, 16x24 cm, 334 pages, several bw and colour photos
Gibson, Rex im Namibiana-Buchangebot
Battlefields of Gold tells the stories, largely untold, of what really went on behind the scenes of the South African company Gold Fields.
The story of Hans Merensky’s discovery tells far more than about successful mining of platinum, gold and diamonds.
Auf den Diamanten- und Goldfeldern Südafrikas ist eine umfangreiche und qualifzierte Schilderung von Land und Leuten, der politischen, kirchlichen und kulturellen Zustände Südafrikas um 1900.
Treasures of the Diamond Coast is a most complete and up-to-date book on the diamond mining history of Namibia.