SUSTAINABILITY Energy and climate change

Energy and climate change

Mining and processing gold is an energy-intensive process. Changing geology, declining grades, longer haulage distances and increasing mine depths requiring additional cooling and ventilation tend to boost energy requirements further. Gold Fields' operations depend on consistent energy supply, making efficient energy management a top priority. Beyond this, managing our energy is critical to decarbonising our operations and achieving our targets to reduce absolute emissions by 50% and net emissions by 30%, on the road to achieving our target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Climate change's impacts on Gold Fields and our stakeholders are real and immediate, mainly due to:

  • The long-term risks posed by climate change to the Group's operations and host communities
  • Increasing efforts to regulate carbon emissions in most of our jurisdictions
  • Taxes on non-renewable energy consumption increasingly being imposed by governments

In 2022, we established a Group Climate Change Steering Committee to drive the formulation and implementation of our Climate Change Strategy. The Committee encompasses all climate-related functions within Gold Fields as well as the majority of the Group's executive leaders.

Our Energy and Carbon Management Strategy focuses on ensuring a secure energy supply and cost-effective electricity and reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Our key energy and carbon management initiatives include:

  • Developing energy management plans for all our operations with a focus on energy efficiencies
  • Extensively investing in renewable energy
  • Trialling zero-emission vehicles
  • Optimising compressed air systems and new ventilation fans and controls
  • Using high precision drill rigs to minimise rework
  • Using fuel additives and other business improvement initiatives to optimise equipment energy consumption
  • Using larger trucks to move more material with better fuel efficiencies
  • Incorporating emissions reduction targets into the Long-term Incentive Programme (LTIP) and RCF conditions
  • Conducting a Group-wide Scope 3 baseline study

The interest payments of two sustainability-linked loans we signed in 2023 are linked in part to gradually reducing our emissions. Furthermore, we announced our 2030 target to reduce Scope 3 emissions by 10% from our 2022 baseline, and looking ahead we will collaborate extensively with our main suppliers to achieve this.

Our Climate Change Report provides further detail on our energy and carbon management and performance and integrated approach to climate change.

Energy intensity

Energy intensity

Group energy consumption

Group energy consumption

Group energy spend and savings

Group energy spend and savings
* Electricity includes direct and indirect electricity including diesel for power
** Other includes petrol, LPG, pipeline natural gas (2021) and Acetylene
Energy performance

Overall, our energy spend decreased by 4% during 2023 to US$405m (2022: US$424m), mainly due to lower oil prices and increased renewables resulting in reduced energy costs.

Total energy spend, which combines the Group's electricity and fuel spend, amounted to 19% of total operating costs in 2023, down from 21% in 2022. This represents 15% of AISC (2022: 16%) and translates to US$163/oz.

Total energy consumption during the year reduced marginally to 14.0PJ from 14.1PJ in 2022. The Group energy mix comprises mainly haulage diesel, gas, grid electricity and renewable electricity, which contributed 17% of total electricity consumption during the year. Energy intensity increased to 5.66GJ/oz (2022: 5.49GJ/oz).

We spent US$8m on energy and emission saving initiatives (including renewable investments) in 2023, which resulted in energy savings of 1.28PJ (2022: 1.08PJ) and cost savings of US$28m – equal to US$56/oz. Since the launch of our Energy and Carbon Management Strategy in 2017, we have realised cumulative energy savings of 6.7PJ and cumulative cost savings of approximately US$259m.

Emissions performance

Total 2023 Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions decreased by 5% to 1,632kt CO2e (2022: 1,716kt CO2e), on the back of increased renewables in our energy mix. Emission intensity dropped to 660kg CO2e/oz in 2023 from 669kg CO2e/oz in 2022.

Emission reductions from savings initiatives decreased to 201kt CO2e during 2023 (2022: 302kt CO2e), due to the emission factors of the electricity plants in Ghana being higher than the Ghana grid emissions factor. While they continue to provide energy security, they do not currently reduce our emissions against the baseline.

We expect overall emissions and emissions intensity to continue declining in 2024 and beyond as our renewables capacity grows.

As illustrated in the roadmap alongside, we foresee that our Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions will decline from 1,632kt CO2e in 2023 to 1,586kt CO2e in 2024 and eventually to our 2030 target of 1,185kt CO2e, a net emissions reduction of 30% from our 2016 base. This will be achieved through the roll-out of renewable energies, the implementation of energy efficiency initiatives, gradually replacing diesel in our fleet and decarbonise movement of mined material and waste. Without our decarbonisation initiatives, our Scope 1 and 2 carbon footprint would amount to some 2.4Mt CO2e by 2030.

In 2023, Gold Fields re-baselined our 2022 Scope 3 emissions to 980kt CO2e. In 2023, Scope 3 emissions reduced by 3% to 950kt CO2e.

Our decarbonisation roadmap

Our decarbonisation roadmap
Renewable energy

To ensure secure and affordable energy supplies, reduce costs and decarbonise our energy sources, we integrate renewable energy into our energy supply mix. We operate large-scale renewable electricity plants at four of our nine mines. Our Cerro Corona mine in Chile and the Windfall project in Canada are completely powered by hydroelectricity.

The Group obtained 17% (2022: 13%) of its electricity from renewable sources in 2023. Based on our current estimates, we expect this to increase to 22% by 2026, as our solar and wind plants at Gruyere, Granny Smith, Agnew and South Deep increase capacity and renewables plants are constructed at St Ives and Salares Norte. All our mines are evaluating renewables plants, carrying out trials on battery-electric or low-carbon vehicles and exploring options to increase the renewable portion of their energy mix.

Our renewables plants at our Australian mines are managed by independent power producers (IPPs), who recoup their capital investment via a long-term supply agreement with our mines. Where funding from Gold Fields is required, this is largely from operational cash-flows. However, at South Deep and, this year, at St Ives, we decided to build the plants ourself to gain the full benefit of the cost savings that renewable energy plants have over grid tariffs.

We are working toward ensuring that renewables account for approximately 70% of the Group's electricity mix by 2030 and 100% by 2050. The remaining emission savings will stem from further energy efficiency initiatives, as well as the gradual replacement of our diesel-powered fleet with zero-emission equipment. We are piloting some of these vehicles at various mines while also working with our peers in the ICMM to ensure rapid progress in rolling out safer and cleaner vehicles.


During 2023, 13% (2022: 12%) of the region's electricity requirements were met through renewables. The investments in renewables and energy efficiency initiatives were responsible for the region's 2023 carbon emission savings of 96kt CO2e.

Agnew is our flagship renewables mine and one of the first gold mines in the world to generate over half of its electricity requirements from renewable sources. Wind and solar provided 50% of the mine's electricity during the year. A 4MW gas power station and a 9MW solar farm expansion will be commissioned in 2024 to cater for increasing demand.

Granny Smith's hybrid system – comprising 8MW on-site solar, a 2MW battery power system and a gas power plant – generated 7% of its electricity supply from renewables during the year. Gruyere's 12MW solar plant provided 9% of its electricity during the year, and a pre-feasibility study to increase the renewable energy capacity to 60% was completed.

In February 2024, the Board approved the construction of a US$195m solar and wind plant at St Ives. When completed, up to 73% of the mine's electricity is expected to be sourced from renewables – significantly reducing the Group's future Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

South Africa

In South Africa, the mining sector continues to be impacted by extensive loadshedding. Because of this, South Deep has to curtail certain operational activities at times and, as a last resort, utilise diesel-powered generators. The mine alternates between hoisting and milling activities to minimise the impact on production.

To reduce our reliance on Eskom and achieve cost benefits, South Deep constructed the 50MW Khanyisa solar plant, which completed its first year of production in 2023. We invested R715m (US$46m) in the plant's construction.

The solar plant provided approximately 15% of South Deep's electricity needs during the year and led to R150m (US$7.1m) in savings. Once ramped-up to full capacity, it is expected to provide 23% of the mine's electricity needs and reduce annual emissions by 110kt CO2e. To improve performance, South Deep applied to Eskom for net-billing to enable the plant to produce the maximum possible energy and feed the excess into the Eskom grid.

South Deep is studying the use of wind power and battery storage. The mine commissioned a meteorological mast in 2022 to evaluate wind as a source of energy to supplement solar electricity and provide additional electricity at night. The feasibility study indicated positive results. If approved, construction is expected to start in 2025 at cost of around R1.2bn (US$70m) and will include six to seven wind turbines producing 7MW each.


The 7.7MW solar plant of Salares Norte's 26MW hybrid diesel-solar power project received environmental approval during 2023. Construction is expected to start in 2025, roughly a year after first gold. Diesel generators currently provide 16MW, with the 8MW solar plant to be added in early 2025. Once fully operational, it will be the highest solar plant in the world at over 4,500m above sea level, providing approximately 20% of the mine's electricity. The plant is set to save the mine over US$7m in energy costs over the first 10 years and reduce carbon emissions by 10kt CO2e a year.

Climate adaptation

The rapidly changing climate and the increased rainfall intensity that our mines are experiencing presents a significant risk to our operations, particularly open pits.

Gold Fields has appointed external geotechnical review boards to help implement industry best practice geotechnical design, monitoring, mine design, extraction sequencing, and ground support implementation, specifically at Cerro Corona, South Deep and the Wallaby mine at Granny Smith. Geotechnical instabilities at the mines are often affected by severe climate events, such as severe weather and rainfall, which may lead to periodic floods, mudslides, and wall instability. With the help of the boards, we seek to mitigate these risks.

Gold Fields and other multinational mining houses are members of the Large Open Pit Consortium (an industry-sponsored, international research and technology transfer project) which commissioned an external review of the potential risk and impact of climate change on open-pit mines and waste dumps. The findings indicated the main risk related to extended periods of freeze and thaw affecting slope stability. At present, Gold Fields does not have any operations that are affected by these conditions, and therefore any climate change risks associated with Gold Fields' open pits are considered negligible.