SUSTAINABILITY Integrated mine closure

Mine closure

By integrating mine closure into our business activities, we aim to reduce our environmental and social impacts, optimise our liabilities and, where possible, enhance asset values. We believe a mining company’s ability to responsibly close its operations is critical to its social licence to operate.

Gold Fields’ integrated mine closure planning, portfolio management and liability optimisation are supported by the following:

  • Regularly reviewing and updating operations’ closure plans
  • Developing rigorous closure cost estimates, which are internally and externally reviewed annually
  • Setting annual performance targets for the implementation of progressive rehabilitation plans

We are strengthening our efforts to reduce our mine closure liabilities, with US$60m spent on progressive rehabilitation and financial provisioning 2022. We also aim to create economic value for our host communities beyond the life-of-mine through our legacy programmes.

Progressive rehabilitation – the implementation of closure activities during the construction and operation of a mine – includes closure-related technical studies and designs, remediation of contaminated areas, decommissioning and removal of redundant infrastructure, landform reshaping, revegetation and in-pit waste rock disposal.

In 2022, the Group achieved an average of 88% (2021: 93%) of the measures set in the progressive rehabilitation plans. We remain ahead of our internal target of 85%. Group spend on progressive rehabilitation was US$11m in 2022 (2021: US$24m).

Key achievements included:

  • Completing the footprint removal and rehabilitation of the former Lawlers process facility at Agnew, which progressed the mine’s closure and rehabilitation
  • Decontaminating, closing and returning to the landlord the Salaverry Port concentrate warehouse in Lima, which was used for gold concentrate transfers at Cerro Corona
  • Rehabilitating and cleaning redundant surface infrastructure and industrial waste at South Deep
  • Continuing progressive rehabilitation at Damang’s East and Far East TSFs
  • Continuing rehabilitation trials, including integrated waste landform (tailings and waste disposal) at Gruyere and commercial crop production at TSFs at Damang

Gold Fields’ total gross mine closure liability increased by 11% to US$565m in 2022, largely due to additional liabilities at Salares Norte (where closure liability increased to US$53m in 2022 from US$30m in 2021), active mining progression (such as TSF lifts and footprint increases) and mining-related cost inflation. As in previous years, some closure liability cost increases have been partly offset by progressive rehabilitation activities, efficiencies in mine closure planning and activities’ costs.

The regional breakdown is provided in the table below:

Group closure estimates (US$m) 2022 2021
Australia1 215 214
South Africa 47 41
Ghana 101 99
Americas 201 156
Group total 565 510
1 Includes 50% of the total Gruyere closure cost estimate

In 2022, Gold Fields started to take a proactive, beyond-compliance approach to funding the inevitable closure of our mines, which includes supplementing the funding we are currently required by the regulators to set aside. Our existing bank guarantees and other security agreements remain in place to support potential unplanned closures and to meet in-country regulatory requirements.

Each region makes provision for mine closure cost estimates through:

  • Australia – existing operating cash and resources and restricted funds set aside (US$28m was set aside for 2022)
  • South Africa – contributions to environmental trust funds and guarantees ensuring that the life-of-mine closure liability will be fully funded. We set aside an additional US$3m in 2022
  • Ghana – reclamation security agreements and bonds underwritten by banks, as well as continued restricted funds set aside. We set aside an additional US$8m in 2022
  • Peru – bank guarantees and restricted funds set aside (US$10m was set aside for 2022)
  • Chile – bank guarantees