SUSTAINABILITY Integrated mine closure

Mine closure

Gold Fields considers mine closure an integral part of our core business. As mining ends on our sites, we strive to achieve sustainable outcomes that benefit our business, people, host communities and the environment. We integrate mine closure into our business activities to reduce our environmental and social impacts, optimise our liabilities and, where possible, enhance asset values.

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

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

With two years left until Damang reaches the end of its life in 2025 and its role in the Gold Fields portfolio of assets still to be finalised, we undertook a closure gap assessment in 2023 by identifying the necessary information the operation will require to prepare a definitive closure plan. The gap analysis included social transition, bioavailability, waste characterisation, hydrogeological and geotechnical investigation, and post-closure water management studies. We engaged relevant stakeholders – including host community representatives, regulators and local government agencies – in the development of scopes to close the identified gaps. A detailed mine closure plan for Damang will be finalised in 2024.

All our sites are implementing progressive rehabilitation plans, which include 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 2023, the Group met its target and achieved an average of 85% (2022: 88%) of the measures set in the progressive rehabilitation plans. Group spend on progressive rehabilitation amounted to US$15m in 2023 (2022: US$11m).

Other key developments included:

  • Developing a detailed closure design and tender package for remedial works at Granny Smith's waste rock facility
  • Revegetation of the underlap pit expansion wall, maintenance of existing rehabilitated sites and raising of seedlings at Tarkwa
  • Backfilling of the decommissioned South Pond at Tarkwa

The Group's 2023 mine closure liability increased by 6% to US$598m from 2022, largely due to additional liabilities at Cerro Corona where closure liability increased to US$169m in 2023 from US$148m in 2022. This increase is due to changes to the scope of work to ensure compliance with the GISTM. 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) 2023 2022
Australia1 231 215
South Africa 44 47
Ghana 107 101
Americas 216 201
Group total 598 565
1 Includes 50% of Gruyere’s closure liability

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 country makes provision for mine closure cost estimates in the following way:

  • Australia: existing operating cash and resources and restricted funds set aside (US$29m was set aside in 2023)
  • 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$1m in 2023
  • Ghana: reclamation security agreements and bonds underwritten by banks, as well as continued restricted funds set aside. We set aside an additional US$11m in 2023
  • Chile: bank guarantees
  • Peru: bank guarantees and restricted funds set aside (US$10m was set aside in 2023)