SUSTAINABILITY Waste management
We manage waste in accordance with a waste management hierarchy through which we aim to prevent or reduce waste generation. Where we do generate waste, we aim to reuse, recycle or treat waste prior to disposal. One of the ultimate goals of our Innovation and Technology strategy, termed “Gold Fields Mine of the Future”, is to seek to significantly reduce the mining waste generated by our business.
Hazardous waste typically consists of materials such as hydrocarbons (oil, grease, emulsions, hydrocarbon-contaminated materials, oily water), chemicals (packaging/ expired or unused chemicals/ solvents/ other), batteries, medical waste, etc. All Gold Fields’ mines and projects have risk based procedures and processes in place. These are part of their Environmental Management Systems, which ensure that hazardous waste is collected, stored, transported and disposed of in a controlled manner that prevents environmental impact. Our hazardous waste is managed in accordance with statutory requirements and hazardous wastes are disposed of at designated, specially constructed, controlled and permitted hazardous landfill sites. Where remote mine operations do not have access to hazardous landfill sites, hazardous wastes are stored and / or disposed of in designated hazardous waste management landfill cells that are engineered to safely contain the waste, prevent environmental and potential social impacts, are rigorously managed and are permitted by the regulator.
Non-hazardous waste includes general landfill waste, non-contaminated metal waste, plastic waste, timber waste and paper or carton waste.
Recycled ‘waste’ typically consists of any hazardous or non-hazardous material that can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, glass, metal etc. Hydrocarbon waste from our operations can also be recycled. For reporting purposes, we also consider non-contaminated timber that can be reused for firewood as recycled waste.
From a waste management perspective, we consider ‘brine’ to be the by-product or precipitate of a water treatment process, such as reverse osmosis. Brine is classified and managed as a hazardous waste (on or off-site).
To prevent ambiguity, the term ‘brine’ does not include an effluent emission that is saline, hypersaline or has a high total dissolved or suspended solid content and which may be discharged under controlled and permitted conditions.
Process plant tailings waste and waste rock are two of the most significant by-products produced by mines. By responsibly managing these waste streams, we can minimise their impact on the environment and our host communities.
In terms of general waste, we have an internal target to limit waste generated for disposal at landfill sites to 2015 levels, which totalled 11.2kt. In 2020, we generated 9.5kt in non-hazardous waste and 1.7kt in hazardous waste – 11.2kt in total, thereby meeting our target. During 2020, Gold Fields recycled 60% of all non-mineralised waste generated in 2020, compared with 50% in 2019. Waste such as plastic, scrap metal, oils and hydrocarbons are recycled off-site by specialist recyclers.
GROUP MINING WASTE
|¹||The increase in tailings from 2019 is due to Gruyere operating for the full year for the first time|