Integrated Annual Review 2012 Annual Financial Report 2012 Mineral Resources and Mineral Reserves Regional overview  

5.2 Pursuing zero harm

Our promise that “if we cannot mine safely, we will not mine” reflects our prioritisation of employee safety and wellbeing above other management priorities. This is demonstrated by the fact that over the last four years, we have written off significant amounts of high-grade Mineral Reserves in South Africa due to safety concerns. In our West Africa Region, we have had to pursue a lower-grade mining plan at our Damang mine due to safety concerns over the potential instability of the wall between the Juno pit and the Damang Pit Cut-Back.

Relevant stakeholder promise:
  • A quest for Zero Harm: If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine. We seek to eliminate all harm to our people and to all contractors working on our sites

Our strong stance on this issue is not only driven by our obvious moral imperative, but also by the need to avoid operational disruption and damage to our reputation. Collectively, these motivations sit behind our determination to demonstrate that gold mining – and deep underground gold mining in particular – can, when managed effectively, be carried out safely.

Nonetheless, our performance remains unacceptable – particularly in the higher-risk environments presented by our labour-intensive, deep underground operations in South Africa. During 2012, there were 16 workplace fatalities at Gold Fields (2011: 19) – all of them within the South Africa Region. Five of these took place in a single incident involving an underground fire in a worked-out area of KDC’s Ya Rona shaft in June 2012. Operations were initially suspended across KDC to facilitate a review of existing safety systems – whilst nearby workplaces were affected by risk of exposure to toxic gases and seismic instability. Investigations by the regulators have been completed and the required corrective action has been implemented.

There is clearly no room for complacency. We are continuing to build upon a range of safety initiatives implemented in 2011, which are already starting to show results. This includes a marked reduction in fall of ground (FOG) fatalities to two in 2012 (2011: 12) – which primarily relates to our extensive programme on fall of ground prevention. This includes more detailed planning and enhanced inspections to ensure compliance to standards – as well as the fitting of safety netting and roof bolting to all stope panels in South Africa (p89).

Gold Fields management are regular participants in the South African Chamber of Mines’ newly formed CEO Elimination of Fatalities Team – a cross-sector initiative to share experiences and help one another address key safety challenges. This includes a specific focus on cultural transformation, which was reintroduced into the South Africa Region’s safety strategy (p88).

Figure 5.11: Group safety performance (pre-unbundling)

Group 2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
Fatalities 16   20   18   26   31  
LTIFR (Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate) 5.161   4.69   4.39   3.91   5.34  
FIFR (Fatal Injury Frequency Rate) 0.11   0.12   0.11   0.16   0.16  
MTIFR2 (Medically Treated Injury Frequency Rate) 5.21   5.68   7.16   8.91   13.50  

1 Including restricted work cases for Australasia; 4.66 if Australasia restricted work cases are excluded
2 In South Africa, due mainly to the additional safety risk associated with deep-level mining, a conservative approach has been adopted whereby first aid cases are included in the MTIFR

Figure 5.12: Breakdown of fatalities in the South Africa Region (pre-unbundling)

Calendar year 2012   2011   2010   2009   2008  
FOG3 (gravity) fatals 1   7   9   3   3  
FOG (seismic) fatals 1   5   0   10   11  
Non-FOG fatals 14   7   8   13   17  
Total fatalities 16   19   17   26   31  

3 Fall-of-Ground