We remain highly committed to the continual improvement of our environmental performance. Key areas of focus include water stewardship, mine closure and the reduction of our carbon emissions and energy usage. Our approach to environmental management is defined by our sustainable development framework of policies, as well as the ISO 14001 international environmental management standard. All of our operations are certified to the ISO 14001 standard. All of our eligible operations are fully compliant with the International Cyanide Management Code. Gold Fields does not use mercury for the beneficiation of gold or in any of its processes.
Amid rising energy costs, increasing depth of our underground mines and longer hauling distances for our open pits, our energy strategy focuses on ensuring security of supply, improving energy efficiencies and reducing the cost of energy while, at the same time, minimising our contributions to and building resilience against climate change.
Group energy performance
Gold Fields’ energy spend, which combines our spending on electricity and fuels, accounts for a significant portion of our operating costs. During 2018, this percentage rose to 22% of operating costs from 17% in 2017, or 15% of our AISC (2017: 12%).
Given the importance of energy to the Group operations, we have set a number of aspirational goals for the year 2020:
- Maintain energy security outside the top 10 Group risks
- Achieve 5% to 10% energy savings off our annual energy plans each year
- Achieve 17% carbon emission reductions each year up to 2020, equivalent to 800,000t CO2-e of cumulative carbon emission reductions over the two years
Gold Fields has developed integrated energy and carbon management strategies at both Group and operational level that are aligned with the global ISO 50001 energy management system standard. The key pillars of this strategy are to reduce our diesel usage, to switch from dieselgenerated electricity to cleaner gas-generated, increasing the use of renewables and rolling out training and awareness programmes. During 2018, Cerro Corona in Peru became the first Gold Fields mine – and the first mine in Peru – to be certified to the ISO 50001 standard, and we aim to have all our operations aligned with the standard by 2020.
Total energy consumption decreased by 4% to 11,628TJ in 2018, from 12,178TJ in 2017, with 69% comprising fuel usage and 31% electricity, compared to a 67%/33% split in 2017. Fuel spend amounted to 52% (2017: 44%) of the total energy spend, and electricity spend accounted for the rest.
Total Group energy spend increased by 17% to US$302m (US$146/oz) in 2018 from US$258m (US$115/oz) in 2017, largely due to an average 23% increase in diesel prices paid by our Ghanaian and Australian mines. This was slightly offset by oil price hedges at our Ghanaian and Australian operations, which realised net gains of US $14m during 2018. In 2018, we invested US$3m in energy initiatives, which delivered 411TJ of savings and resulted in long-term cost savings of US$29m (US$14/oz), compared with US$22m (US$10/oz) in 2017.
With the exception of our South Deep mine in South Africa, which is still heavily reliant on coal-fired electricity, all of our operations are using low-carbon gas, with grid and diesel generators as emergency supply. During 2018, our Group had 134MW in installed gas capacity – about 54% of total electricity capacity – with an additional 16MW of capacity being evaluated. The independent power producers (IPPs) supplying the gas are finalising the construction of the gas pipeline to our Tarkwa and Damang mines in Ghana (77km) and have completed the pipeline to the Gruyere project in Australia (200km). This is a safer and more reliable option for supplying gas than trucking it to these operations.
Renewable energy is also becoming a viable option for our operations, not only due to their positive impact on our carbon emissions but also because the cost of renewables is rapidly decreasing. At present, Gold Fields has 55MW of solar capacity and 18MW of wind capacity under study at our South African, Australian and Ghanaian mines. Two of our Australian mines, Granny Smith and Agnew, are also finalising the construction of battery storage facilities (p72). Our investments in renewables will result in solar and wind being added to our supply mix, initially at our Australian mines, where it is set to reach at least 10% of total energy usage by 2020. Several additional opportunities are being assessed at the rest of our operations. We also remain committed to our target of using renewables for 20% of the energy requirements of new projects over their life-of-mine.
More details on Gold Fields’ climate change management and carbon emission performance can be found here.
Regional and Group Energy and Carbon Performance
|Electricity Purchased (MWh)||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018|
|Americas||143 441||145 361||153 379||151 056||150,443|
|Australia||296 989||277 521||287 480||282 330||247,204|
|South Africa||476 767||484 256||525 749||497 814||449,728|
|West Africa||420 878||415 215||433 814||434 886||436,564|
|Group||1 338 075||1 322 353||1 400 422||1 366 086||1,283,940|
|Diesel consumption (kL)|
|Americas||9 939||13 455||12 713||12 486||14,927|
|Australia||75 034||76 867||71 057||59 206||52,220|
|South Africa||2 419||2 457||3 060||3 019||1,961|
|West Africa||81 423||99 739||96 669||113 430||114,442|
|Group||168 815||192 518||183 498||188 140||183,520|
|Total energy consumption (GJ)|
|Americas||876 812||1 012 363||1 014 336||997 030||1,082,421,404|
|Australia||3 285 225||3 250 575||3 604 448||3 631 526||3,142,462,658|
|South Africa||1 807 258||1 835 467||2 005 575||1 902 705||1,690,253,177|
|West Africa||4 496 451||5 141 964||5 073 537||5 646 855||5,712,920,595|
|Group||10 465 746||11 240 369||11 697 895||12 178 116||11,628,058|
|Energy Intensity (GJ/oz produced)|
|Total Energy Costs (US$m)|
|Energy spend (% of Opex)|
|CO2 emissions (tonnes) (Scope 1-3)|
|Americas||100 645||124 030||126 096||128 106||149,819|
|Australia||537 662||536 782||565 544||563 409||508,359|
|South Africa||539 057||531 078||569 401||529 607||467,174|
|West Africa||516 679||561 273||702 718||737 914||726,838|
|Group||1 694 043||1 753 163||1 963 759||1 959 035||1,852,190|
|Carbon emission intensity (tonnes CO2 - e/oz)(Scope 1 and 2 only)|
Gold Fields’ climate change programme focuses on the assessment and mitigation of climate change-related risks, including the development and implementation of action plans and energy management programmes to reduce emissions (p70 – 73), while at the same time ensuring water security (p100 – 102). Gold Fields’ objectives are to minimise the Company’s contribution to climate change and to build resilience to impacts of climate-related risks on our operations and host communities. It is increasingly clear that the negative physical impacts of climate change are real and immediate, due to:
- The long-term risks posed by climate change to the Group’s operations and surrounding communities
- Increasing efforts to regulate carbon emissions in most of our jurisdictions
- Taxes increasingly imposed by governments on non-renewable energy consumption
Climate change-related regulations, comprising carbon emission and renewable energy targets, continue to evolve across our regions, and we consistently assess and investigate how these changes will affect our operations.
Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
Business impact on the climate, and companies’ ability to withstand climate change, are issues of increasing global importance, and vital to our stakeholders. In 2018, Gold Fields became the second Johannesburg Stock Exchange Limited (JSE)-listed company in South Africa (and the first mining company) to publicly back the United Nations (UN)-endorsed recommendations of the TCFD. The recommendations have been adopted by many national financial regulators.
By following the TCFD, we will be reporting our climate-related performance in a more targeted and practical way than before, linking it to financial risks and opportunities. In 2019, we will release our first TCFD report, which will replace our annual submission in terms of the CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project. The report details aspects of governance and climate-related risks, as well as our risk management framework, our strategic approach in adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change, and presents trends in our key climate change-related metrics.
Gold Fields has been disclosing emissions, risks and opportunities for more than 10 years through the CDP. Key energy and carbon emissions data are assured externally. Gold Fields maintained its A- score for its 2018 CDP performance, ranking it among the leaders in the mining sector for both our disclosures and management practices
Group performance and strategies
The 2018 Group risk register includes the impact of climate change among the top 20 Group risks. Furthermore, the Board’s Safety, Health and Sustainable Development (SHSD) Committee reviews the performance of energy and climate change programmes on a quarterly basis. Every five years we review our vulnerability to climate change and develop Group-wide strategies and programmes in response to these.
During 2017 our Ghanaian operations’ piloted use of an ICMM climate-data viewer tool, which provides insight into physical changes in precipitation, temperature, wind and water stress levels. These outcomes were used in developing adaptation plans, such as reviewing design flood lines and inclusion of climate change impacts in our project standards. The ICMM tool is in the process of being rolled out to our other operations.
Our carbon emission performance mirrors the energy usage trends at our operations. Gold Fields’ disclosures cover all three carbon emission scopes, Scope 1 – 3, both in absolute figures and intensities. Total Scope 1 – 3 CO2-e emissions during 2018 amounted to 1.85Mt, a significant drop from 1.96Mt in 2017, reflecting the decrease in total energy usage to 11.62TJ in 2018 from 12.18TJ in 2017. Emission intensity was unchanged from the 0.66t CO2-e/oz in 2017, due to a decline in Group gold production. Our aspirational target is to reduce cumulative carbon emissions by 800kt CO2-e between 2017 and 2020. Cumulative carbon emission reductions from 2017 – 2018 totalled 265kt CO2-e.
Our commitment to low-carbon and renewable energy is a significant contributor to our efforts in reducing carbon emissions. All our operations, other than South Deep, are largely powered by LP gas, a low carbon energy source. In Q1 2019, Granny Smith and Agnew announced significant renewable energy projects to be operational later in 2019 or early 2020. South Deep, Tarkwa and Damang are also investigating developing renewable energy assets in the near future.
Given the water security impact of climate change to our operations, we also closely monitor our water usage and spending and invest in water security and efficiency initiatives.
Access to clean water is a fundamental human right and a vital resource for Gold Fields’ mining and ore processing activities. We are committed to responsible water stewardship as it enables security of supply to our own operations. Managing our impact on and access to water is also essential to maintaining our licence to operate, as water is a critical resource for many of our host communities.
We have adopted an integrated approach to water management, including alignment to the ICMM Water Position Statement, baseline water assessments at the operations, and the adoption of a catchment approach to water management based on risk and opportunity analyses. Through careful management, we are able to reduce our environmental impact through responsible use, storage and release of water, while also reducing our costs. Furthermore, we aim to develop our water management policy by Q2 2019.
The ICMM Position Statement on water stewardship commitments was adopted by Gold Fields in 2017. Gaps in terms of our alignment with the ICMM statement were assessed and closed-out by each of our operations in 2018. During this year, we also engaged an external company to conduct a third-party review to verify this alignment to the position statement. This company confirmed our overall alignment rating and found a strong commitment to water stewardship at both corporate and operational levels, with transparent communication and disclosure of our water performance statistics both internally and externally. They also found a need for greater alignment of Gold Fields’ operations’ water balances within the context of the water requirements of the wider catchment area, particularly adjacent communities.
All our operations have predictive and dynamic water balances in place.
During 2018, Gold Fields spent a total of US$32m on water management and projects (2017: US$29m). Our operations are investing heavily in improving water management practices, including pollution prevention, recycling and water conservation initiatives.
Water withdrawal1 across the Group decreased to 21.2Gl (2017: 32.9Gl), including a total of 14.5Gl relating to freshwater usage. The main reason is a change in the definition of water withdrawal to align with the ICMM Water Reporting Guideline. Dewatered and diverted water4 was previously reported as withdrawn water by our Australian operations, but has been reclassified as water diverted in alignment with the ICMM definitions as it is not used in the mine processes. Water withdrawal per tonne processed declined to 0.64Kl (2017: 0.96Kl) and per ounce produced to 10.3Kl in 2018 (2017: 14.8Kl), in line with the significant drop in water withdrawal.
Water recycled2 or reused3 amounted to 41.4Gl (2017: 43.3Gl). The ICMM has recommended a recycling/reuse target of 65% for mining operations, which we adopted in 2018 and we achieved 66% (2017: 57%).
We benchmark our water usage by participating in the CDP water disclosure programme. The CDP’s water score is an indicator of a company’s commitment to transparency around its water risks, and the sufficiency of its response to them. During 2018, Gold Fields achieved a B score, down from the A- score in its 2017 CDP water assessment. This is a notch below the top mining performers and reflects broader assessment criteria for the mining sector, many of which are not relevant to Gold Fields.
Our Biodiversity Conservation Practice Guide provides guidance on the integration of biodiversity conservation into all aspects of mine life, from pre-feasibility to closure. We subscribe to the ICMM Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas, which includes a commitment to respect protected areas and an undertaking not to explore or mine on World Heritage properties.
Our Biodiversity Conservation Practice guideline ensures that we integrate biodiversity conservation into all aspects of mine life, from pre-feasibility to closure. We aim to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity where opportunities arise. Furthermore, we subscribe to the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas, which includes a commitment to respect protected areas and an undertaking not to explore or mine in World Heritage listed sites. Biodiversity considerations are incorporated into our integrated mine closure and progressive rehabilitation processes.
Two examples indicating our commitment to biodiversity are:
- During 2018 we invested around US$2.2m in environmental programmes at our Salares Norte project in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, including US$700,000 on initiatives to protect the endangered Shorttailed Chinchilla found in the area. During 2018, with the help of environmental experts, we continued improving our the baseline information on the Chinchilla and worked on a detailed plan and protocol to relocate them if the EIA is approved.
- The St Ives operations in Western Australia extend over a large salt-lake system known as Lake Lefroy. In recent years, the riparian (bank) zones of such salt lake Exploration drilling at Lake Lefroy systems have been recognised as areas of sensitive biodiversity. The current mining disturbance of the Lake Lefroy riparian zone by St Ives and other mining companies is limited to 90ha or 2.5% of the riparian habitat. St Ives has undertaken numerous ecological studies and monitoring programmes in the area. The studies indicate that, outside of the physical disturbance of a small portion of the riparian zone, mining and related activities have no discernible impact on the area’s biodiversity. Nonetheless, as part of the Beyond 2018 project at St Ives, regulatory approval of which is still awaited, we have included protection measures for Lake Lefroy’s fauna.
Sustainable and integrated mine closure remains one of Gold Fields’ five key sustainability focus areas. We aim to reduce our environmental, community and social impacts, optimise our closure liabilities and, where possible, enhance asset values. Integrated mine closure planning and progressive rehabilitation are a crucial part of our mine closure management programme.
All our mining operations have closure plans in place that are reviewed every year and closure liabilities are updated annually. During 2017, Gold Fields completed the adoption of the Standardised Reclamation Cost Estimator (SRCE) model, which provides consistency in preparation of liability cost estimates across the Group, flexibility in meeting operational and regional needs and ease of use.
Gold Fields have established an Integrated Mine Closure Steering Committee to oversee alignment of closure plans with the guideline. Focus areas for the committee include social transitioning, progressive rehabilitation and full life-of-mine closure obligations. Continued participation in the ICMM Mine Closure Working Group and Social Guidance for Closure Taskforce is supporting the Gold Fields focus on social transitioning at closure.
We are committed to moving towards integrated mine closure planning. This will ensure that we design, plan and operate our mines with closure in mind. Our 2020 objective is to implement integrated mine closure management that in the long term will reduce the Group's closure liabilities. This means planning for post-closure long-term sustainability in consultation with our communities and other stakeholders.
The Group’s focus on progressive rehabilitation during mining operations was advanced in 2018. Progressive rehabilitation presents many opportunities for mining operations, including building credibility with regulators and stakeholders, reducing closure liabilities and achieving cost savings through:
- Utilising available equipment
- Eliminating the need for contractor mobilisation costs
- Utilising current resources such as the environmental management team
- Potential tax savings
- Improving the rehabilitation knowledge
Progressive rehabilitation opportunities, as identified in mine closure plans, have been embedded in our mines’ 2019 business plans. Our operations have identified practical progressive rehabilitation activities and costs that are aligned to regulatory requirements and which can be implemented in 2019.
All operations updated their 2018 closure cost estimates, which were externally assured. The funding methods used in each region to make provision for the mine closure cost estimates are:
- Peru – bank guarantees
- Australia – existing cash and resources1
- Ghana – reclamation security agreements and bonds underwritten by banks along with restricted cash
- South Africa – contributions into environmental trust funds and guarantee
The total gross mine closure liability for Gold Fields rose by 5% to US$400m in 2018. A breakdown is provided in the table below.
Group closure estimates 2018 (US$m)
|West Africa region||100||98|
|South Africa region||42||42|
Waste and tailings
As part of its vision of responsible stewardship of the environment, Gold Fields commits to responsible management of waste and tailings deposits. We typically generate the following waste streams:
- Waste rock
- Hazardous wastes, such as chemical and hydrocarbon waste
- Non-hazardous waste, such as general landfill waste
- Recyclable waste, i.e. waste that can be reused or recycled
The most significant waste materials produced by our operations are tailings, waste rock, chemical waste and hydrocarbon waste. By managing these wastes responsibly, we minimise the environmental and potential social impact, so as to maintain our licence to operate.
All of our operations have tailings management plans in place, including closure and post-closure management plans. In total, as at end-2018, our ten operations (including three JV sites) contained 33 tailings dams, of which 14 were active and one under construction. With regards to active TSFs, Gold Fields currently has two in-pit tailings dams operating at Agnew and St Ives, five downstreams/centreline tailings dams and seven upstream tailings dams.
Gold Fields operations with active downstreams/centreline tailings dams are Cerro Corona, Damang and Tarkwa.
The new Gruyere TSF, currently in construction, is also a downstream TSF. Gold Fields has only three operations where upstream tailings are being used, being South Deep, Tarkwa and Granny Smith.
As two of our sites, South Deep and Granny Smith, are located in relatively dry regions, limited amounts of water need to be stored on the facilities, significantly reducing the risk of saturation on the dams. Tarkwa’s upstream tailings dams in Ghana have been constructed from imported fill materials, and are designed assuming worst-case scenario conditions, to ensure the embankments remain stable throughout both the wet and dry seasons, and also for the life of the facility.
METHODS OF TAILINGS CONSTRUCTION
The two most common designs for a raised tailings embankments are upstream and downstream TSFs. A downstream tailings facility is one where the new embankment raise is constructed and supported beyond the downstream slope.
Downstream TSFs may have supernatant water ponded against the embankment, as shown in the diagram, or they may have a tailings beach.
In upstream tailings dams, each new embankment raise is constructed partially on the embankment immediately below and partially on the consolidated tailings beach adjacent to the embankment.
The mining industry’s TSFs are in the spotlight following the catastrophic tailings failure at Vale’s Feijão iron ore mine in Brumadinho, Brazil, in January 2019, which resulted in over 300 deaths. This follows the 19 fatalities during the Samarco TSF failure in 2015, and significant environmental damage after the Mt Polley tailings dam collapse in 2014.
After the Samarco accident, the ICMM members developed a Tailings Position Statement in 2016 and approved a tailings aspirational goals roadmap in late 2018. Gold Fields’ Group Tailings Management Guidelines are aligned to the ICMM Tailings Position Statement. The guidelines were strengthened during 2017 with the inclusion of additional performance guidance and minimum assessment criteria. Subsequent to the Brumadinho tragedy, the ICMM agreed to establish an independent panel of experts to develop an international standard for tailings facilities for its member companies.
All Gold Fields’ TSFs, as well as associated pipeline and pumping infrastructure, are subject to an independent, external audit every three years – or more frequently where required by local circumstances or regulations – as well as regular inspections and formal annual Engineer of Record reviews.
A number of improvement areas were recommended, including:
- Seismicity design considerations
- Appointment of an Engineer of Record for each TSF
- Dam break assessments
- Update of emergency response plans
- TSF seepage management and control
In addition to closing out these identified gaps during 2018, Gold Fields also embarked on a programme to further improve operational safety of its TSFs, including moving away from the construction of upstream facilities to centre-line or downstream designs, consideration of filtered and dry stacked tailings, as well as in-pit tailings disposal.
These are in line with the main areas of work under the ICMM’s aspirational goals: improving critical controls and reducing tailings water content.
The following actions have been implemented or are currently in process at our operations:
- The use of a new downstream TSF for the Damang Reinvestment project
- The use of filtered and dry stacked tailings for the planned Salares Norte mine
- The increased use of in-pit tailings disposal in Australia (Agnew and St Ives)
- Increased use of tailings for underground backfill at the Granny Smith and St Ives Invincible mines
- Improved governance over seepage control at TSFs through the installation of liners. All new TSFs recently constructed at Tarkwa, Damang and Gruyere are lined
In February 2019, the Gold Fields Board also requested strengthened governance of the Group’s TSFs through among others, quarterly TSF update reports, continuous environmental monitoring, including satellite monitoring scans, and increased external and independent verification. These are currently being investigated by management with a view to rapid implementation.
Gold Fields is also working with Lepanto Mining, its majority partner in the Far Southeast project in the Philippines, on enhancing risk mitigating measures for the TSF used by Lepanto for tailings disposal from its nearby gold mine. Gold Fields and Lepanto have commissioned external consultants to undertake detailed hydrological, seismic and geotechnical reviews and make recommendations on strengthening the TSF. The TSF is located in a region with high seismic activity and frequent typhoons.
Our technical teams are also working with Asanko Gold to further strengthen risk assessment and governance of the lined and upstream-designed TSF at the Asanko gold mine (AGM) JV in Ghana.
During 2018, two new TSFs were commissioned at our West African operations: the FETSF at the Damang mine and TSF 5 at Tarkwa.
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.
Waste Management Hierarchy
Refer to our 2018 Integrated Annual Report for more information on our focus on tailings and waste rock management: https://www.goldfields.com/reports/annual-report-2018/environmental-stewardship.php
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. This type of effluent is not hazardous and reported under GRI Standard 306-1 “Water discharge by quality and destination”. Refer to our Gold Fields GRI Report 2018 for further details: https://www.goldfields.com/sustainability-reporting.php.
Waste Management Performance
With our enhanced focus on waste management we have improved our data collection and have improved our hazardous waste management reporting as presented below:
Total Group waste rock volumes mined decreased to 149Mt in 2018 from 171Mt in 2017, due to lower volumes moved at our Tarkwa and St Ives mines. Tailings depositions were at 41Mt in 2018, unchanged from 2017 and despite a sharp fall in depositions at South Deep, due to lower production.
Waste Management Targets
Gold Fields aims to continually improve its waste generation and waste management in accordance with the waste management hierarchy for all types of waste.
In 2016, Gold Fields set a target to maintain non-hazardous general landfill waste at 2015 levels (11,160 tonnes), by ensuring a reduction in the waste that reaches landfill through greater use of recycling and on-site waste separation. Though we were not able to meet this target in 2016, we achieved it in 2017 and again in 2018.
During 2018 the Group reduced landfill waste by 19% to 9Mt as a result of lower waste volumes at Damang, Cerro Corona and St Ives.
Our 2017 target for hazardous waste generation was to generate and dispose of less hazardous waste than we did in 2016. This target was achieved through a reduction of 530 tonnes of hazardous waste when compared with 2016. For 2018 we set ourselves a similar target, namely to reduce hazardous waste generation to less than the 2,808 tonnes generated in 2017.
Gold Fields is committed to responsible stewardship of natural resources and the environment for present and future generations. One of the ways in which we measure our performance is through environmental incidents. A scale of Level 1 (most minor) to 5 (most severe) is used to report environmental incidents. We have not experienced any Level 4 or 5 environmental incidents over the past ten years.
Since 2014 we have set ourselves a target of zero Level 3, 4 and 5 environmental incidents. We have successfully achieved this target in regard to Level 4 and 5 incidents and have seen a small improvement in Level 3 incidents, as shown below.
Group Level 3 Environmental Incidents
During 2018, we experienced two Level 3 environmental incidents:
- In April 2018, whilst commissioning Damang's Far East tailings storage facility (FETSF), water from the top of the TSF leaked into the external environment. The leak occurred through porous material, at a small section of the tailings storage facility base that had not been identified during construction. Gold Fields immediately stopped the commissioning process and notified the relevant regulatory bodies and communities adjacent to the affected water courses. Drinking water was provided to these communities, though monitoring showed that their water supplies were safe to drink. Downstream monitoring was also initiated. No lasting environmental impacts were identified, and, after the porous material was removed, the area was rehabilitated to the original design.
- On 16 December, over a period of three hours, approximately 180m3 of water containing tailings from the Cerro Corona TSF flowed through an authorised diversion pipe into a creek leading to the Tingo River. A nearby fish farm on the bank of the river was affected. The incident did not compromise the dam's integrity or physical stability. Gold Fields immediately communicated the incident, and subsequently sent a full report, to the environmental authorities. An emergency response team was activated and corrective measures were taken immediately to stop the discharge; within 24 hours the environmental parameters in the river had returned to normal. Rehabilitation of the affected area also started immediately and was completed within 20 days. No fines nor sanctions have as yet been formalised.
In 2018 we also set ourselves a target to reduce Level 2 environmental incidents by 10%. We are pleased to have made progress in reducing these incidents by 18% in 2018. Improvements in Level 2 environmental incidents should help us reduce potential Level 3 environmental incidents in future.
In 2019, and beyond, we continue to strive towards zero Level 3 to 5 environmental incidents
In order to achieve this and to continually improve our environmental performance, we have set ourselves additional targets for 2019:
- Establish and maintain an Environmental Health and Safety scorecard with leading and lagging indicators
- No material deviations from guidelines / corporate standards as per the 2019 Compliance framework
- Independent verification of safety, health, environmental and community critical controls
- Carry out self-assessments under the ICMM Performance Expectations Guidance
- Maintain certification to OHSAS 18001 / ISO 45001 (Safety), ISO 14001 and Cyanide Code.