Our host communities are among Gold Fields' most important stakeholder groups – their support underpins our social licence to operate which in turn impacts our ability to create enduring value. Our Group Community Policy Statement, updated in 2021, sets out our commitment to developing mutually beneficial relationships with our host communities, host governments and other key stakeholders through meaningful engagement. We aim to keep improving our social performance, strengthen our social licence to operate and deliver enduring value in collaboration with our host communities and governments.
Host communities are the people who live within the vicinity of our operations, who have been or could be directly affected by our exploration, construction or operational activities, and who have a reasonable expectation that we will fulfil our duties and commitments to operate responsibly. Each operation within the Group identifies its host communities to secure its legal and social licences to operate. In total, an estimated 485,000 people live in approximately 60 communities surrounding our eight mines (excluding Asanko).
At Gold Fields, our Group Community and Government Charter promotes an approach underpinned by building strong relationships and trust, creating and sharing enduring value, and delivering against our promises. To implement the Charter's commitments, our regions successfully implemented their annually updated government and community action plans during 2021. The Charter will be updated in 2022 to reflect our new vision and purpose statements.
In 2016, Gold Fields started implementing a strategy aimed at enhancing benefits for our host communities. At that point, loss of our social licence to operate was ranked as our Group's top fifthhighest risk. This risk dropped from our Group top 10 risks in 2018, which has remained the case due to the successful implementation of the pillars of our host community value creation strategy, namely host community procurement, job creation and SED, as well as environmental management strategies.
It is critical that we have a clear understanding of our communities' needs and concerns. Ongoing stakeholder engagement and community grievance management are therefore key components of the community relations programme. All our operations have established grievance mechanisms that enable us to address and resolve any grievances that arise from our activities. See our 2021 grievance report.
The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated economic hardships in our host communities, who increasingly expect our mines to help alleviate their burdens by providing financial or other assistance. The circumstances of this past year reinforced our awareness of our communities' priority needs. We believe the greatest socio-economic benefit we can provide to our host communities is to create value by addressing their priority needs of:
We aim to maximise the positive socio-economic benefits of mining on our host communities while, as far as possible, avoiding or minimising adverse impacts. Our social investment initiatives are guided by the principle of Shared Value, whereby we address both business and social needs to create value for communities and our mines.
Our most important programmes focus on host community procurement and job creation, based on our belief that these will support the economic development of communities and individuals while meeting the needs of our business.
Between 2016 and 2021, we significantly enhanced our understanding of the value created through our SED investments, host community employment and host community procurement programmes by quantifying the impact thereof. Over the past six years, we created between US$600m and US$900m in community value every year. Cumulatively, this amounts to over US$4.4bn which, we believe, presents a significant investment in the economic wellbeing of our host communities. Based on our analysis, of the US$3.59bn in value distributed during 2021, US$872m (28% of total) remained with our host communities.
We have incentivised our management teams with ESG targets since 2017, including host community value creation. Following the launch of the Group's comprehensive 2030 ESG targets in December 2021, a larger portion of incentives will be allocated to ESG-related goals. Looking at host community value creation, we set a 2030 target of 30% of the total value to be spent in host communities.
The diagram below details the community-focused levers available to us:
Our host community procurement strategy guides us as we seek opportunities for communitybased enterprises to participate in our operations' supply chains. If implemented effectively, host community procurement holds benefits for the communities in which we operate as well as our mines.
In 2021, our total procurement spend amounted to US$2.32bn, of which 96% was spent on businesses based in the countries where we operate (2020: US$1.78bn/96%). We spent US$709m, or 31% of our total procurement spend, on suppliers and contractors from our mines' host communities (2020: US$536m/29%). The increase in spend was as a result of efforts in Ghana and Australia in particular. Our Salares Norte project, in construction during 2021, actively pursued procurement of goods and services from its host communities totalling approximately US$46m in 2021.The table below outlines in-country and host community value creation progress between 2019 and 2021:
Local (in-country) and host community procurement
spend (% of total)
spend (% of total)
Host community employment
We continue to prioritise the employment of host community members at our operations and encourage our contractors and suppliers to do the same. This is supported by education and skills development initiatives so we can build a local skills base.
In 2021, our operations set targets to maintain host community employment. At the end of the year, 54% of our workforce – or 9,330 people – were employed from our host communities (2020: 53%/8,752 people).
Maintaining our 2020 performance was a challenge during 2021 amid the adverse economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Western Australia, closed borders and demand for labour resulted in an extremely low unemployment rate (3.4%) and stiff competition for labour. The table below provides further details.
We hope to maintain, and in the long term, increase current levels of host community employment as these jobs have significant multiplier effects, particularly in developing countries. As such, these jobs are critical for the estimated 450,000 residents of our host communities in these countries.
Beyond creating employment opportunities with our mines or contractors – which have limited scope to create jobs – we also seek to create non-mining jobs, particularly those linked to SED projects and the wider supply chain. Non-mining jobs can continue to provide benefits to host communities beyond mine closure.
|National employees||Host community workforce1|
|% of workforce||% of workforce|
We intensified our efforts to ensure our SED projects – those focusing on agriculture, infrastructure development, education and training, and economic diversification – also grow and sustain non-mining jobs. We are starting to see traction in this initiative and, during the year, created 759 non-mining jobs for host community members with well over half of them in the agricultural sector (2020: 672). Due to their inherent nature, many of our SED projects do not necessarily provide long-term solutions but do create income and a measure of skills transfer.
The following projects created significant jobs during 2021:
Our operations actively support host communities and governments in their efforts to control the Covid-19 pandemic and assist those impacted by it. This totalled approximately US$2m in 2021 (2020: US$3m), with support tailored to each country's unique circumstances. We also paid a US$5m Covidlevy to the Ghana government during 2021. Community support includes financing government or industry response funds, donating medical and sanitising equipment, and distributing meals and other goods to vulnerable people. During H2 2021, we shifted focus to assisting governments with community vaccination campaigns.
Investments in socio-economic development
We invested US$16.3m in SED projects in our host communities during 2021 (2020: US$17.2m). Many SED projects have been delayed as the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions hampered engagement with stakeholders. Our mines have dedicated SED investment funds delivered directly or through our trusts and foundation. Our mines also partner with host governments, donors and NGOs.
Some of the significant projects we implemented during the year include our ongoing investment in water provision in Hualgayoc, near our Cerro Corona mine. This investment addresses one of the community's key needs and, since we started operating in the area in 2006, we have provided most community households in Hualgayoc with access to clean water. In 2021, we delivered a drinking water system to Hualgayoc City's 2,400 people. A consortium of local companies undertook the construction (p67).
Group SED spend
Group SED by type (2021) (US$m)1
Measuring our impact and relationships
Our regions regularly conduct independent assessments to measure the strength of our relationships with host communities.
Over the years, we have seen a mostly positive upward trend in Company-community relationships at our operations, as reflected in the headline findings in the adjacent graph.
We expanded our independent measure of our social return on investment (SROI) to identify investments that strengthen our social licence to operate which, in turn, inform future investment strategies. After a delay due to Covid-19, Peru will undertake an SROI analysis on selected projects in 2022 using our Group methodology.
We have identified four key areas where our mines can potentially have adverse impacts on our communities:
We have policy statements, guidelines and procedures that provide a framework for us to avoid and, where we cannot prevent, manage the environmental impact on our host communities.
The Tarkwa-Nsuaem and Prestea- Huni Valley municipalities, which host Gold Fields' Tarkwa and Damang mines, are major centres for both legal artisanal and smallscale mining (ASM) as well as illegal mining activities. During 2021, we had 25 and 17 illegal mining incursions at Damang and Tarkwa respectively, with intrusions mostly on waste dumps and inactive satellite pits.
The Company is concerned about illegal mining, as besides the loss of the surface rich ore, potential damage to mine property and assets, mercury and cyanide contamination in water resources in our catchments, there is also the potential for individuals to be injured or for local unrest and the risk of damage to reputation as we try to deal with illegal mining.
Our strategy in dealing with illegal mining comprises consistent engagement and sensitisation of community members and other stakeholders as well as increased security patrols to demonstrate “zero tolerance” of illegal mining on our concessions. Any arrests and prosecutions of illegal miners through the local police are undertaken in strict adherence to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, for which regular training is provided to the police and our community patrols.
We also realise that illegal mining provides jobs and incomes to communities where unemployment and poverty are rife. This is why a critical aspect of our strategy is the creation of alternative jobs through community development, alternative livelihood and graduate trainee programmes with a focus on providing employment to the youths in our host communities, who would otherwise be forced into the illegal mining sector. Our main project in this respect is the Youth in Organic Horticultural Production programme, which to date has generated jobs for 604 host community members (p80).
Gold Fields also supports the government in its National Alternative Livelihood and Community Mining programmes which focus on ASM, a sector that is regulated by the Minerals Commission. In 2019 the Damang mine began the process of ceding 1,340ha of land to the Minerals Commission for community mining. The Company also provided geological information and submitted digital cadastral maps. This process concluded in 2021 and ASM miners are currently on site working the area.
Gold Fields recognises that, as a company operating in Australia on the lands of Aboriginal peoples, we have a responsibility to respect and empower the traditional owners of those lands.
In June 2021, we finalised our Aboriginal Engagement Strategy, which is built on three strategic pillars:
Each of Gold Fields' Australian mines is situated on land that has a Native Title determination or an active claim. The table below describes the current claims and determinations for each of our operational sites.
The Native Title Act 1993 details the process for traditional owners who claim traditional rights and interests on certain land, to have those rights recognised by the Federal Court of Australia in the form of a Native Title determination.
Gold Fields is required to engage with registered Native Title claimants and determined Native Title holders in relation to its activities, including before new tenements are granted. Depending on the type of activity, this may require agreements to be entered into, most frequently to ensure the protection of cultural heritage and to provide a process for the conduct of heritage surveys.
Native Title agreements can foster strong relationships by establishing structured channels of communication; identifying initiatives to achieve greater education, employment and contracting outcomes; providing funding for community programmes; delivering cultural awareness training; and incorporating best practice heritage management. In addition, these agreements can provide financial benefits to Native Title parties that could settle any liability for Native Title compensation.
At our Gruyere mine, Gold Fields is party to a comprehensive agreement with the determined Native Title holders for the area: the Yilka People and Sullivan Edwards families. Through this agreement, we explore ways to sustain and grow employment and business opportunities, as well as support health, education and other programmes for these Native Title holders, including the nearby Cosmo Newberry community. We also actively support and promote the Group's conservation and land management activities.
In considering our strategy for engaging with Indigenous Australians, we chose to partner with Reconciliation Australia (an independent, not-for-profit organisation) in 2018 to embark on its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) programme – a structured framework whereby organisations facilitate the development of respectful relationships with and creation of meaningful economic opportunities. This ties in with our vision for reconciliation where First Nations peoples can participate equally in our workforce and business, feel culturally safe and empowered to deliver sustainable solutions for their communities.
Gold Fields formally launched its Reflect RAP in early 2020, focused on building and strengthening relationships, raising awareness of the process and the broader reconciliation effort. It has given us an understanding of the barriers to progress in areas, such as employment and procurement. It also informed our second (Innovate) RAP, which we finalised in 2021 to implement key programmes for Indigenous Australians supporting education, training and employment, procurement, cultural awareness and heritage management, as well as community development.
Our Innovate RAP is the necessary blueprint for how we are going to get there. To support its implementation, Gold Fields has:
The table below describes the current claims and determinations.
|Agnew (north)||Determined Native Title claim||Tjiwarl People|
|Agnew (south)||Currently no claim||–|
|Granny Smith||Entire operation: registered Native Title claim||Nyalpa Pirniku People|
|Gruyere||Entire operation: determined Native Title claim||Yilka People and Sullivan Edwards families|
|St Ives||Main area of operations: determined Native Title claim Remaining area (exploration): registered Native Title claim||Determined: Ngadju People Claim: Marlinyu Ghoorlie People|
The Innovate RAP commenced in January 2022, with key actions to:
We already support a range of activities and programmes that directly benefit our Aboriginal communities.
We also participate in a local industry group based in Kalgoorlie (the Goldfields Aboriginal Business Chamber) near our St Ives mine to support greater economic development for Aboriginal peoples and businesses in the Goldfields region.
We continue to demonstrate good progress in employing Indigenous Australians and engaging Indigenous-owned businesses. In 2021, the number of Indigenous Australians employed increased to over 3%, reflecting the overall population of Indigenous Australians within Australia. A$3.5m (US$2.7m) was spent on 26 Indigenous businesses across our sites in 2021.
In response to the findings from the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Juukan Gorge incident in 2020, the Western Australian government reviewed and updated relevant legislation. A new Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act was passed in December 2021, with detailed implementation guidelines to be released during 2022.
The key implications of the new Act for Gold Fields are:
Gold Fields supports the approach adopted by the Western Australia government, which has embedded agreement-making on Aboriginal cultural heritage matters into the legislation.
In early 2021, we updated our current processes for identifying, evaluating and communicating risks associated with Aboriginal cultural heritage to ensure we embed cultural heritage risk assessment and management into our decisionmaking processes.
As part of this, we obtained independent advice on best practice approaches to conducting Aboriginal cultural heritage surveys, which formed the basis of a new Regional Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Standard in 2021.
We have extensive protocols in place for the recording, impact assessment and protection of identified Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, primarily through our ground disturbance permitting process. We are also currently making progress in the negotiations with our Aboriginal stakeholders at several of our operations to formalise robust cultural heritage management protocols.
While no Indigenous Peoples have a relationship with our Salares Norte project site, as confirmed through the project's environmental approval process, we have engaged with the Colla Indigenous communities located some 70km from the project since 2015. We have signed social development agreements with the key Colla communities, and we are holding regular meetings to present our progress against our project plan and to identify and address any concerns from these communities.
During 2021, indigenous communities raised issues around incidents on the access routes to the project. In consultation with the communities corrective actions were implemented. We also met with the communities around their concerns about our chinchilla rescue and relocation efforts (p65). Independent environmental experts explained the process and heard inputs for future improvements, which we are considering. Regular updates have also been scheduled.