Newcrest Mining's outgoing head Greg Robinson has been described as having had to save the company last year as it announced he would leave in July.
Mr Robinson will leave his $2 million a year salary running Australia’s largest gold company on July 4, to be replaced by chief operating officer Sandeep Biswas.
The departure of Mr Robinson, plus Newcrest’s former chairman Don Mercer, were first flagged before the company’s AGM in October.
The chief executive leaves after barely three years in the job, after a horror 2013 when the gold price, and Newcrest’s share price, plunged.
The company also suffered reputational damage due to scrutiny of its disclosure practices ahead of its announcement of multibillion-dollar asset value writedowns.
Confirmation of Mr Robinson’s exit came as Newcrest released a positive quarterly update that sparked a rise in its share price.
The stock rose 10 cents to $10.12 on Wednesday.
Mr Robinson said it had been “an interesting eight years for me at the company”.
Credit Suisse analyst Michael Slifirski said expectations for growth were high when Mr Robinson took the top job at Newcrest, a time when gold prices were at record highs.
But after 2013’s massive gold price fall, he had done a great job aggressively cutting costs and keeping Newcrest solvent without raising capital, Mr Slifirski said.
“People remember people that build companies rather than save them,” he told AAP.
“He is certainly in that latter camp that saved Newcrest from a pretty dire outlook.”
Newcrest’s March quarter gold output was down 11 per cent to 551,590 ounces, due to the impact of maintenance work.
It has maintained full year gold and copper output guidance, and expects gold to be at the top end of its range of between 2 million and 2.3 million ounces.
Production in 2014/15 might be flat or even fall, however, with Newcrest forecasting lower production at its NSW Cadia East operations and flat production at Lihir in PNG.
The company faced criticism from analysts over its largest project at Lihir, where its cost of sales of $1,344 an ounce had increased, and compares unfavourably to the current gold price of under $US1,300 per ounce.
Mr Robinson said there were still plenty of cost reductions to be made at Lihir – which it acquired for $9.5 billion in 2010 – and the benefits had not yet flowed through.
Newcrest’s strategic focus on was on maximising free cash flow rather than simply increasing production levels, he said.