Report Selector

Integrated Annual Report 2019
Report Selector

Currently viewing: OUR COMMUNITIES AND GOVERNMENT / Human rights | Next: First party: Internal Audit statement

Human rights

Gold Fields is committed to upholding and protecting the human rights of our people and members of our host communities. We recognise that our mining activities have the potential to impact the human rights of these important stakeholder groups.

Our Human Rights Policy Statement (, which is embedded in our Code of Conduct, applies to all directors, employees and third parties (including, among others, suppliers and contractors). The Code of Conduct can be found on our website at code-of-conduct.php.

Under the Human Rights Policy Statement, Gold Fields commits to, among others:

  • Not interfering with or curtailing others’ enjoyment of their human rights
  • Defending, where possible, employees and external Gold Fields stakeholders, such as community members, against human rights abuses by third parties
  • Taking positive action to facilitate the entrenchment and enable the enjoyment of human rights

A Human Rights Steering Committee oversees the work by the various disciplines and regions, and feedback is provided to the Board’s Social Ethics and Transformation (SET) Committee on a quarterly basis.

The Human Rights Policy Statement is informed by and supports various international standards. These include the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the conventions of the International Labour Organisation, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the VPSHR, and the ICMM Principles on Human Rights.

During the year, the ICMM developed Performance Expectations (PEs), which are now included in the requirements for member companies. They introduce a set of internationally recognised, stakeholder-supported, measurable health, safety, environmental and social requirements that can be validated at site level. Group and site conformance with each PE must be self-assessed by December 2021, and audit results publicly disclosed from 2022. A corporate desktop review of the PEs in 2018 found that there was broad alignment within Gold Fields, with gaps identified in human rights due diligence and water stewardship. Processes have been put in place to close the gaps identified.


During 2018, we identified salient human rights issues at a Group level. These are defined by the UN Guiding Principles as those issues that have the most severe negative impacts as a result of the Company’s activities or business relationships. The salient human rights issues for our business are as follows:

  • Health and safety: Occupational incident or exposure leading to physical and/or psychological harm and/or Illness
  • Human resources: The impact of our working environment, policies and procedures on employees and contractors
  • Water: The loss of containment and the subsequent impact on water quality released into the environment
  • Public and private security: Abuse of power by public or private security
  • Transportation: Transport incidents involving hazardous substances and/ or people
  • Mine closure: The ineffective, incomplete or failed implementation of mine closure plans
  • Resettlement: Land acquisition, economic compensation and community resettlement
  • Breaches by suppliers/contractors: Breaches of human rights by suppliers, contractors and other business partners in our supply chain

In 2019, the Group salient issues were cascaded to our regions who used the same risk analysis method to identify the causes, consequences, preventative controls, and mitigation and damage controls for each of the abovementioned issues.

  Details of our human rights issues are on our website at

No material gaps were identified at a regional level for any of the eight salient human rights issues. However, we continue to monitor the efficacy of mitigation controls, conduct training on human rights for employees and suppliers, and use our grievance mechanisms (below) to identify and speedily resolve issues raised by host community members.


Our Human Rights Policy Statement protects the rights of our workforce and upholds freedom from child labour, freedom from forced or compulsory labour, freedom from discrimination (while recognising the need to affirm previously disadvantaged groups), and freedom of association and collective bargaining.

Internal grievance mechanisms are in place to ensure employees and contractors can raise human rights concerns. These grievances are handled by the Gold Fields Human Resources function in consultation with legal teams. Employees can also raise concerns via independent counsellors as part of the Gold Fields Employee Assistance Programme, and make use of Gold Fields’ confidential, third-party whistleblowing hotline. During the year, three grievances were raised by employees regarding harassment and sexual harassment, two of which are undergoing a legal process.

Performance in 2019

  • The Diversity Policy, approved by the Board in 2017, informed the diversity and inclusion strategy launched in 2019, which outlines our commitment to equality and the zero tolerance approach we take to discrimination
  • A Sexual Harassment Policy was approved
  • Code of Conduct training, rolled out to all employees in 2017, was updated during the year and employees will receive refresher training, including on human rights, during 2020


Our suppliers are required to comply with the Group Code of Conduct, the Gold Fields Supplier Code of Conduct and our Human Rights Policy Statement – this requirement is a standard provision in all third-party contractual agreements.

An external third-party screening system evaluates new and existing suppliers and contractors on a monthly basis for an array of pre-defined risk categories, including human rights and related violations and/or transgressions. Risk profiles for active external suppliers and contractors with post-screen alerts are then established and mitigation actions put in place.

Gold Fields is committed to responsible materials stewardship. In this context, we support global efforts to prevent the use of newly mined gold to finance conflict. We have voluntarily adopted the Conflict- Free Gold Standard of the World Gold Council (WGC). The standard is applied at all relevant locations through assurance audits. Although we withdrew our WGC membership in 2014, we have and will continue to apply both the standard and its guidelines.

  Further information is available at sustainability-reporting.php.

Performance in 2019

  • In response to the 2018 implementation of the Modern Slavery Act in Australia, Gold Fields and a number of its industry peers worked with the Walk Free Foundation, an NGO, to promote human rights best practices and eliminate modern slavery in its supply chain. Key suppliers to our mines were provided with a toolkit to identify possible human rights contraventions. Where required, Gold Fields will provide support to its suppliers to address contraventions. Blocking a supplier would only be considered as a last resort


Gold Fields’ protection services teams work with both private and public security providers for the effective and responsible protection of workers and assets. All private security contractors receive human rights training during the induction process, and at least annually thereafter, including on the VPSHR. During the year, all aspects of alignment with the VPSHR were completed or are in progress. Security is managed at regional level, because each region has its own specific context.

Performance in 2019

  • We reviewed private sector security providers’ contracts to ensure they are aligned to the VPSHR
  • We updated our Human Rights Policy Statement to reference our support for the VPSHR
  • Cerro Corona used an independent contractor to carry out a detailed assessment of its human rights risks and implementation requirements, with particular reference to the VPSHR.


We are committed to addressing community issues and concerns timeously and effectively. Therefore, we rely on a grievance reporting system to maintain confidence and transparent communication with our stakeholders.

Our grievance mechanism enables and encourages community members to freely put forward their complaints, while obligating our mines to address the grievances within an agreed period, before the grievance is escalated to independent mediation.

Performance in 2019

  • Our operations self-assessed their grievance management practices against criteria such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • Our mines worked to close their first order grievances in a short period – these are grievances that should be resolved with the complainant before they are escalated
  • We saw a 39% decline in grievances during the year, which we believe may be driven by the fact that we did not have any Level 3 to 5 environmental incidents in 2019. While we cannot claim a direct correlation between the two, evidence suggests that environmental incidents lead to an increase in grievances, particularly given the importance of water to many of our host communities