Effective assurance is a valuable feedback mechanism to those directly involved in tailings management. Depending on the assurance mechanism used, assurance potentially provides perspectives on current performance, deficiencies, opportunities for improvement, future plans, and other tailings management aspects.
Gold Fields utilises the following mechanisms to provide assurance:
Audits evaluate and report on the degree of conformance with stipulated criteria, based on the systematic collection and documentation of relevant evidence. Audits involve some degree of judgment but are not designed to determine the root cause of deficiencies or evaluate management system effectiveness.
We retain an Engineer of Record (EoR) for most of our active sites. As of January 2021, our EoRs are employed by the following companies: Golder (4 TSFs), Stantec (1 TSF), SRK Consulting (1 TSF), Knight Piesold (4 TSFs), SLR Consulting (8 TSFs), Tetra Tech (5 TSFs) and CMW Geosciences (8 TSFs).
The EoRs are responsible for reviewing and approving all engineering and design data, associated operating and monitoring procedures, as-built drawings, and facility inspections to confirm physical integrity, safety, the performance of the facility, and ancillary structures.
The EoRs define the parameters and specifications that we use for construction and operations such as embankment and dam slope angle, allowable rate of rise, construction and operational material quality and methods, and the dam's phreatic surface level and minimum freeboard requirements.
A comprehensive third-party review covering operational, legal aspects, and sustainable development must be carried out every three years. This review is also used to check the operation's on-going compliance against the Group TSF Management Guideline and applicable design guidelines.
Facilities that have an "Extreme" consequence rating are required to have this third-party operational review carried out on an annual basis.
Legal and regulatory compliance audits are typically carried out on an annual basis to check compliance against permits and operating licenses. The frequency of these audits might differ for operations in Ghana and Peru.
Local regulations may also require operations to regularly undertake third-party reviews with a report on the findings required to be submitted to various governmental agencies. For example, Ghana requires quarterly third-party operational reviews to be conducted and reported.
Third-party reviews are most effective if they begin at the project conception and continue through design, construction, operation, and closure stages. As such, the intent of a third-party review is to identify and address potential deficiencies before they occur and is fundamentally a preventative risk control measure. The preventative focus of third-party reviews fosters continual improvement and mitigates complacency.