Independent assurance statement to the board of directors and stakeholders of gold fields limited – sustainability information
ERM Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd (ERM) was engaged by Gold Fields to provide assurance in relation to selected sustainability information set out below and presented in Gold Fields' 2019 Integrated Annual Report for the year ended 31 December 2019 ('the Report').
|Engagement scope (subject matters):
- Whether the 2019 data, for the period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019, for the selected performance indicators listed in Table 1 overleaf, are fairly presented, in all material respects, with the reporting criteria.
- Whether the Directors' statement in the "About this Report" section of the Report that Gold Fields has complied with the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework, Principles, Position Statements and reporting requirements is, in all material respects, fairly stated.
For environmental, health and safety and social KPIs:
- GRI Standards ('Core' in-accordance option) and the GRI's Mining and Metals Sector Disclosure (2013)
- Gold Fields GRI Standards Sustainability Reporting Guideline, V21 (November 2019)
- Gold Fields Group Health and Safety Reporting Guideline, V6 (January 2019)
- International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Sustainable Development Framework Reporting Requirements (2008)
|Assurance standard used:
ERM CVS' assurance methodology based on the International Standard on Assurance Engagements ISAE 3000 (Revised) and ISAE 3410 (for GHG Statements)
Reasonable assurance for all Subject Matters
Gold Fields is responsible for preparing the Report, including the collection and presentation of the selected sustainability information within it, in accordance with the reporting criteria, the design, implementation and maintenance of related internal controls, and for the integrity of its website.
ERM's responsibility is to provide an opinion on the selected information based on the evidence we have obtained and exercising our professional judgement.
Our assurance activities
We planned and performed our work to obtain all the information and explanations that we believe were necessary to reduce the risk of material misstatement to low and therefore provide a basis for our assurance opinion. Using the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework: Assurance Procedure (2008) as a guide, a multi-disciplinary team of sustainability and assurance specialists performed the assurance activities, including, among others:
- Reviewing external media reporting relating to Gold Fields, peer company annual reports and industry standards to identify issues relevant to the assurance scope in the reporting period.
- Interviews with relevant corporate level staff to understand Gold Fields' sustainability strategy, policies and management systems, including stakeholder engagement and materiality assessment.
- Interviews with a selection of staff and management, including senior executives, to gain an understanding of:
- The status of implementation of the ICMM Sustainable Development Principles in Gold Fields' strategy and policies; and
- Gold Fields' identification and management of sustainable development risks and opportunities as determined through its review of the business and the views and expectations of its stakeholders.
- Reviewing supporting evidence related to external stakeholder engagement on material issues facing the business.
- Reviewing policies and procedures and assessing alignment with ICMM's 10 Sustainable Development Principles and other mandatory requirements set out in the ICMM's Position Statements in effect as at 31 December 2019.
- Testing the processes and systems, including internal controls, used to generate, consolidate and report the selected sustainability information.
- Reviewing the suitability of the internal reporting guidelines, including conversion factors used.
- Physical visits to interview responsible staff and verify source data and other evidence at the following sites:
- South Deep, South Africa
- Tarkwa, Ghana
- St Ives, Australia
- Virtual reviews to verify source data for the following sites:
- Damang, Ghana
- Agnew, Australia
- Granny Smith, Australia
- Gruyere, Australia
- Cerro Corona, Peru
- An analytical review of the year-end data submitted by the sites listed above, and testing of the accuracy and completeness of the consolidated 2019 Group data for the selected KPIs.
- Reviewing the presentation of information relevant to the scope of our work in the Report to ensure consistency with our findings.
Our assurance opinion
In our opinion:
- The selected sustainability performance information set out in Table 1 for the year ended 31 December 2019 is prepared, in all material respects, in accordance with the Gold Fields reporting criteria; and
- The Directors' statement in the "About this Report" section of the Report that Gold Fields has complied with the ICMM Sustainable Development Framework, Principles, Position Statements and reporting requirements is, in all material respects, fairly stated.
The limitations of our engagement
The reliability of the assured data is subject to inherent uncertainties given the methods for determining, calculating or estimating the underlying information. It is important to understand our assurance opinions in this context. Our independent assurance statement provides no assurance on the maintenance and integrity of the Gold Fields' website, including controls used to achieve this integrity, and in particular, whether any changes may have occurred to the information since it was first published.
We have provided Gold Fields with a separate detailed management report. Without affecting the opinion presented above, we have the following observations:
- There have been improvements in the Company's determination and reporting of material issues, notably the establishment of a Materiality Assessment Steering Committee and prioritisation of material issues based on their importance to the Company as well as to stakeholders. We recommend diversifying external stakeholder engagement to further strengthen the materiality process, as well as using the outputs to inform the Company's strategy.
- Due to weaknesses in documentation and in the control environment at the Gruyere operation (which was operational since May 2019) relating to total water consumed and total energy consumed, we undertook additional substantive procedures to verify these indicators. We recommend improving the data management and internal control environment for these indicators to facilitate future assurance.
- In relation to the reported energy saving initiatives across the Group, we undertook additional procedures to verify the savings for certain initiatives across the West African, South African and Australian operations. We recommend refresher training across the operations on the measurement, verification and reporting requirements for this indicator in order to reduce the risk of material misstatement as well as assurance effort.
- Following a recommendation in last year's Assurance Statement for the Australia region to formalise the process for consolidating and reporting socio-economic development spend, ERM did observe improvements in the data management process for this indicator at certain operations. We encourage Gold Fields to extend these efforts to all Australian operations, as well as other social performance data (host community workforce employment).
Review Partner, ERM CVS, London
|27 March 2020
||27 March 2020
ERM Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd, Johannesburg, South Africa
ERM Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd and ERM Certification and Verification Services (CVS) are members of the ERM Group. Our work complies with the requirements of ERM’s Global Code of Business Conduct and Ethics (available at https://erm.com/global-code). Further, ERM CVS is accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service and its operating system is designed to comply with ISO 17021:2011. Our assurance processes are designed and implemented to ensure that the work we undertake with clients is free from bias and conflict of interest (refer to both the abovementioned Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and the ERM CVS Independence and Impartiality Policy available at http://www.ermcvs.com/our-services/policies/independence/). The ERM and ERM CVS staff that have undertaken work on this assurance engagement provide no consultancy related services to Gold Fields in any respect related to the subject matter assured.