Creating enduring value beyond mining

Technology and innovation

Gold companies globally are being challenged by increasing costs, dropping grades and remote ore bodies. One way of addressing these challenges is through modernisation, which can deliver a safer working environment, improve efficiencies and production, reduce costs and limit their environmental impact. Ultimately, the ideal end state is a decarbonised, zero-emission sustainable mine that embraces innovative technology and provides a safe working environment for all.

At Gold Fields, we continued to embed technology and innovation as part of the three key strategic pillars adopted by the Group during 2021. Specifically, our first strategic pillar seeks to “maximise the potential from our current mines through people and innovation”. Based on this, we will conduct a full business analysis across the Company in 2022 to determine the appropriateness of our innovation and modernisation programmes, as they relate to asset optimisation and business improvement frameworks.

Gold Fields’ modernisation plan stretches across three horizons:

  • Horizon 1: The foundational phase to visualise the operations through real-time data and, using these business insights, plan the approach for Horizon 2
  • Horizon 2: The transformational phase to integrate and optimise processes and systems over a three to seven-year period
  • Horizon 3: The Gold Fields Mine of the Future, delivering the future state of the Group

We made significant progress on Horizon 1 projects and programmes, and some operations have already transitioned to Horizon 2. Many of the projects have significant safety and health benefits for our workforce, including collision avoidance and awareness in vehicles, tele-remote operations, and trialling underground zero-emission vehicles. Details of these initiatives can be found in Safety.

A key focus of Horizon 1 was to install advancements in digital infrastructure and ICT technology at our mines as the backbone for running technology for other modernisation programmes. Some of these programmes undertaken in

2021 include:

  • The expansion and upgrade of the wireless network at South Deep, which we completed in 2021
  • A focus on leveraging LTE (4G) technology for mining, including expansions at St Ives and Gruyere in Australia. We will also commission a new 4G installation at Salares Norte in 2022
  • Standardisation of so-called digital drift systems across underground mines as an alternative lowercost communication technology. This technology uses coaxial cables similar to digital television providers, with a significant advantage being that traditional electrical teams can install and maintain these systems
  • The roll-out of mobile devices similar to iPads to collect and automatically report production data, especially in our underground operations

Horizon 2 deployments largely focused on establishing state-ofthe- art control facilities to oversee mining processes. So far, three mines made progress on this:

  • Cerro Corona completed an advanced process control review during 2021, with a full deployment scheduled later in 2022 to drive processing optimisation at the operation
  • A state-of-the-art centralised mine operating centre was commissioned and is in operation at Granny Smith. It hosts a new integrated operating platform designed using the latest manufacturing standards
  • South Deep expanded its surface operating centre by installing telemetry on machinery

There are a number of other technology initiatives underway, including the rollout of renewable energy grids at most of our operations as part of our decarbonisation journey to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 30% by 2030. As part of this, we partnered with leading independent power producers (IPPs) – many of whom have provided latest renewable technologies in powering our mines. See Climate change and energy management for details.

In working with our peers in the ICMM, we also developed a cleaner, safer vehicles roadmap for underground and open-pit operations, each with contextspecific projects within the three horizons. The introduction of zero-emission vehicles will mean step changes for the safety and health of our workforce and the environmental impacts of our operations (see Safety).

Modernisation extends beyond technology, however. Perhaps, most importantly, it will mean introducing a diversity of new skills, specialists and technical role to our Company, reskilling and upskilling people to adapt in an agile environment and improving performance management systems. Central to our people-focused modernisation plan is the development of a culture of diversity and agility to ready us for the new world of work.