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Our vision is to be the global leader in sustainable gold mining


We remain highly committed to the continual improvement of our environmental performance. Key areas of focus include water stewardship, mine closure and the reduction of our carbon emissions and energy usage. Our approach to environmental management is defined by our sustainable development framework of policies, as well as the ISO 14001 international environmental management standard. All of our operations are certified to the ISO 14001 standard. All of our eligible operations are fully compliant with the International Cyanide Management Code. Gold Fields does not use mercury for the beneficiation of gold or in any of its processes.

Energy, carbon and climate change


Through its Integrated Energy and Carbon Management Strategy, Gold Fields integrates energy and carbon management into all aspects of its business to ensure energy security, improved management of energy costs, improved energy efficiencies and sustainable reduction of its carbon footprint. Full details of our Group and operational energy consumption and carbon emissions data is contained on our website at>sustainability.

Some of the salient features of the Group’s 2017 energy and carbon performance were:

Energy markets have been fundamentally redefined by the global drive to minimise contribution and build resilience to climate change. This has affected the types of energy sourced by business, the cost of energy, how energy is procured and how energy is finally used.

The gold mining industry is affected directly by these drivers, given the energy intensity of its processes. Mining and processing of gold is getting more energy intensive given a number of factors including:

  • Declining grades
  • Longer hauling distances
  • Increasing mine depths requiring more pumping and cooling infrastructure
  • Increased stripping to expose new ore bodies
  • More challenging ore body geologies

At the same time, energy prices continue to increase.

For Gold Fields, energy spend accounts for a significant portion of our operating costs (2017: 17%, 2016: 19%), equivalent to 12% of AISC (2016: 13%). This reinforces the need for increased energy supply security, investing in continuous efficiency improvements, reducing our carbon emissions and adapting to the adverse effects of climate change. Successfully implementing these initiatives contributes to a number of our strategic objectives of operational excellence and demonstrates our commitment to responsible mining principles.

In 2016, we revised our Integrated Energy and Carbon Management guideline to align with ISO50001, the global energy management standard. We started the alignment with the standard in 2017 by integrating energy and carbon management into operational and strategic aspects of the business. Energy awareness and training is provided for relevant staff and contractors, while our energy and carbon emissions data is collated and assured by independent auditors.

The guideline informs our integrated energy and carbon management strategy, which is aimed at strengthening energy security, managing energy consumption and costs, reducing carbon emissions and building operational climate resilience. We have set our 2020 aspirational goals from 2018 to be:

  • Maintain energy security outside the top 10 Group risks
  • Achieve 5% to 10% energy savings off our annual energy plans each year
  • Achieve 17% carbon emission reductions each year up to 2020, equivalent to 800,000t CO2-eq of cumulative carbon emission reductions over the period
  • Ensure that all our operations are ISO50001 ready or certifiable

More details on Gold Fields' climate change management and carbon emission performance can be found here and for more details of our energy management approach, policies and guidelines go to

Group energy consumption

Overall energy performance

  • Group energy spend declined by 11% to US$258m (US$115/oz) in 2017 from US$289m (US$130/oz) in 2016, with energy initiatives having delivered just below 9% cost savings, at US$22m (US$10/oz), against an initial target of 8% in the 2017 energy plan
  • Total energy consumption increased by 4% to 12,178TJ in 2017 from 11,697TJ in 2016, with 67% comprising fuel usage (8,175TJ) and 33% electricity (4,003TJ), compared to a 63%/37% split in 2016
  • Fuel spend accounted for 44% (45% in 2016) of total energy spend, with electricity accounting for 56% (55% in 2016). The impact of lower oil prices kept our fuel spend lower relative to our electricity spend. A table showing Group and regional energy costs and volume impacts can be found on our website at
  • Energy initiatives realised 176GJ in savings during 2017, equivalent to 1% of energy consumed (against an initial target of 3% in the 2017 energy plan)
  • An estimated 8% of carbon emissions, totalling almost 116,000 CO2-eq, (against an initial target of 8%) were abated
  • Our energy intensity increased to 5.46GJ/oz (2016: 5.27GJ/oz), driven by increased fuel usage
  • Our Scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions decreased marginally to 1.959 Mt CO2-eq from 1.964 Mt CO2-eq in 2016 (see here)

In 2016, Gold Fields updated its Group Energy and Carbon Management Guideline to align with ISO 50001, the global energy management standard. The guideline entrenches a systematic approach to our energy management as a business optimisation continual improvement programme and shifts our focus from individual energy efficiency initiatives.

Group and Regional energy and carbon performance

Electricity Purchased (MWh) 2014   2015 2016   2017  
Americas 143,441   145,361 153,379   151,056  
Australia 296,989   277,521 287,480   282,330  
South Africa 476,767   484,256 525,749   497,814  
West Africa 420,878   415,215 433,814   434,886  
Group 1,338,075   1,322,353 1,400,422   1,366,086  
Diesel consumption (kL)              
Americas 9,939   13,455 12,713   12,486  
Australia 75,034   76,867 71,057   59,206  
South Africa 2,419   2,457 3,060   3,019  
West Africa 81,423   99,739 96,669   113,430  
Group 168,815   192,518 183,498   188,140  
Total energy consumption (GJ)              
Americas 876,812   1,012,363 1,014,336   997,030  
Australia 3,285,225   3,250,575 3,604,448   3,631,526  
South Africa 1,807,258   1,835,467 2,005,575   1,902,705  
West Africa 4,496,451   5,141,964 5,073,537   5,646,855  
Group 10,465,746   11,240,369 11,697,895   12,178,116  
Energy Intensity (GJ/oz produced)              
Americas 2.69   3.42 3.75   3.25  
Australia 3.18   3.28 3.82   3.89  
South Africa 9.01   9.27 6.91   6.77  
West Africa 6.11   6.82 7.09   7.95  
Group 4.56   5.02 5.27   5.46  
Total Energy Costs (US$m) 2014   2015 2016   2017  
Americas 22.61   21.08 20.68   22.07  
Australia 130.43   96.43 83.90   80.78  
South Africa 33.11   31.00 31.55   34.40  
West Africa 175.14   163.16 153.19   120.29  
Group 361.29   311.67 289.32   257.54  
Energy spend (% of Opex)              
Americas 14%   15% 14%   15%  
Australia 18%   18% 14%   15%  
South Africa 13%   13% 12%   11%  
West Africa 32%   31% 32%   26%  
Group 21%   22% 20%   17%  
CO2 emissions (tonnes) (Scope 1-3)              
Americas 100,645   124,030 126,096   128,106  
Australia 537,662   536,782 565,544   563,409
South Africa 539,057   531,078 569,401   529,607  
West Africa 516,679   561,273 702,718   737,914  
Group 1,694,043   1,753,163 1,963,759   1,959,035  
Carbon emission intensity (tonnes CO2 - e/oz)(Scope 1 and 2 only)              
Americas 0.19   0.27 0.31   0.26  
Australia 0.37   0.39 0.43   0.42
South Africa 2.48   2.50 1.92   1.78  
West Africa 0.43   0.48 0.697   0.71  
Group 0.55   0.59 0.69   0.66  


Gold Fields is committed to responsible water stewardship, both for the benefit of host communities and for our own operations. Clean water is a basic human right, and a vital resource for our processing activities. Our approach to managing our impact on and access to water is essential to maintaining our licence to operate. Through careful management, we are able to reduce our environmental impact through responsible use, storage and release of water, while also reducing our costs, thereby benefiting all stakeholders.

All regions have conducted a gap analysis against the new ICMM Water Position Statement and have developed action plans to close the gaps, with the aim of aligning by the end of 2018. Independent verification of mines' adherence to the statement will be carried out afterwards. We have updated the Group Water Management Guideline by incorporating the following ICMM Water Position Statement commitments:

  • Apply strong and transparent corporate water governance
  • Manage water at operations effectively
  • Collaborate to achieve responsible and sustainable water use

Predictive and dynamic water balances are in place at all operations, except Damang (which is planning to implement it during 2018), enabling them to account for their water inputs to and outputs for the flows within the system.

For details of our water management approach, policies and guidelines go to

Group performance

During 2017, Gold Fields spent a total of US$29m on water management and projects (2016: US$16m).

Water withdrawal1 across the Group increased to 32.9Mℓ (2016: 30,3Mℓ) and water recycled2 or reused3 amounted to 43.3Mℓ (2016: 44,3Mℓ). Water withdrawal per ounce was higher at 14.8kℓ/oz in 2017 compared with 13.7kℓ/oz in 2016. The main reasons for the increase in water withdrawal (Graph 1) were the high rainfalls experienced at our Australian operations, at Tarkwa in Ghana and at the Cerro Corona mine in Peru. This is included in the determination of water withdrawal and we are required to dewater these mines to enable them to continue operating. As Group gold production was largely unchanged this reflected in higher water withdrawals per ounce of gold produced.

Our operations are investing heavily in improving water management practices, including pollution prevention, recycling and conservation initiatives.

The decline in the amount of water recycled or reused during 2017 also related to higher rainfall. At Cerro Corona all new water is rain water, which is collected and stored in the tailings pond even if the site does not need it. It gets used first, therefore reducing the need to treat and reuse waste water. A similar trend occurs at our other mines during periods of high rainfall.

The ICMM has recommended a recycling/reuse target of 60% for mining operations. Our Peruvian and Ghanaian mines have exceeded this level already and during 2018 the Group will set targets in line with this recommendation. At Group level, 57%4 of our water was recycled or reused during 2017 (2016: 59%).

We benchmark our water usage by participating in the CDP water disclosure programme. The CDP's water score is an indicator of a company's commitment to transparency around its water risks, and the sufficiency of its response to them. During 2017, Gold Fields maintained an A- score for its 2016 CDP water assessment, a notch below the top performers.

Group water withdrawal   Water withdawal per ounce of gold produced
Group water recycled/reused   Total water recycled/reused4

1 Water withdrawn is the sum of all water drawn into Gold Fields' operations from all sources for any use/impact

2 Recycled water - refers to the act of processing used water/waste water through the same or another cycle at the same facility. The water/waste water is treated before    being recycled and reused

3 Reused water refers to water/waste water that is re-used without treatment at the same facility or at another of Gold Fields' operations

4 Percentage of water recycled or reused = (water recycled/reused ÷ total water used in process5 ) x 100

5 Total water used in process = water withdrawal + water recycled/reused


Our Biodiversity Conservation Practice Guide provides guidance on the integration of biodiversity conservation into all aspects of mine life, from pre-feasibility to closure. We subscribe to the ICMM Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas, which includes a commitment to respect protected areas and an undertaking not to explore or mine on World Heritage properties.

Mine closure

Sustainable and integrated mine closure remains one of Gold Fields' five key sustainability focus areas. Through the careful planning of mine closures, we are able to:

  • Reduce our environmental impact
  • Reduce social and community impact
  • Optimise financial liabilities
  • Enhance our assets' values

All our mining operations have closure plans in place that are reviewed every year and closure liabilities are updated annually. During 2017, Gold Fields completed the adoption of the Standardised Reclamation Cost Estimator (SRCE) model, which provides consistency in preparation of liability cost estimates across the Group, flexibility in meeting operational and regional needs and ease of use.

During the year an Integrated Mine Closure Steering Committee was established to oversee alignment of closure plans with the guideline. Focus areas for the committee include social transitioning, progressive rehabilitation and full life-of-mine closure obligations. Continued participation in the ICMM Mine Closure Working Group and Social Guidance for Closure Taskforce is supporting the Gold Fields focus on social transitioning at closure.

We are committed to moving towards integrated mine closure planning. This will ensure that we design, plan and operate our mines with closure in mind. Our 2020 objective is to implement integrated mine closure management that in the long term will reduce the Group's closure liabilities. This means planning for post-closure long-term sustainability in consultation with our communities and other stakeholders.

The funding methods used in each region to make provision for the mine closure cost estimates are:

  • Ghana - reclamation bonds underwritten by banks along with restricted cash
  • South Africa - contributions into environmental trust funds and guarantees
  • Australia - existing cash resources1
  • Peru - bank guarantees

The total gross mine closure liability for Gold Fields remained unchanged at US$381m in 2017. A breakdown is provided in the table below.

Group closure estimates 2017 (US$m)

  % of Group
  Total (US$)
    Total (US$)
Australia region1   47%   179     182  
Ghana region   26%   98     105  
Americas region   16%   62     57  
South Africa region   11%   42     37  
Group total (US$m)   100%   381     381  
1 Due to legislative changes introduced in Western Australia that came into effect in July 2014, there is no longer a legal obligation to have unconditional performance bonds in place for mine closure liabilities. Such liabilities for continuing operations are now self-funding. In addition, companies are now required to pay a levy to the state based on the total mine closure liability. This levy is 1% of the total liability per mine, paid annually. This levy goes into a state administered fund known as the Mine Rehabilitation Fund. Capital and interest from the fund will be used to rehabilitate legacy sites or sites that have prematurely closed or been abandoned

Waste Management

As part of its vision of responsible stewardship of the environment, Gold Fields commits to responsible management of waste and tailings deposits. We typically generate the following waste streams:

  • Tailings
  • Waste rock
  • Hazardous wastes, such as chemical and hydrocarbon waste
  • Non-hazardous waste, such as general landfill waste
  • Recyclable waste, i.e. waste that can be reused or recycled

The most significant waste materials produced by our operations are tailings, waste rock, chemical waste and hydrocarbon waste. The highest volume of waste generated is tailings, which is placed in engineered tailings storage facilities, as well as waste rock (such as overburden), which is deposited on designated waste rock facilities. Our hydrocarbon and chemical wastes are classified as hazardous wastes. These are subject to strict controls for their handling, storage, transportation and recycling or where required, disposal in accordance with statutory requirements. By carefully managing these waste materials, we minimise their potential environmental and social impacts.

We manage waste in accordance with a waste management hierarchy through which we aim to prevent or reduce waste generation. Where we do generate waste, we aim to reuse, recycle or treat waste prior to disposal. One of the ultimate goals of our Innovation and Technology strategy, termed “Gold Fields Mine of the Future”, is to seek to significantly reduce the mining waste generated by our business.

Waste Management Hierarchy

Waste Management Hierarchy

Gold Fields has a Tailings Storage Facility Guideline and is preparing to be in full compliance with the ICMM’s Position Statement on Tailings Governance by the end of 2018. Refer to

Refer to our 2017 Integrated Annual Report for more information on our focus on tailings and waste rock management:

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste typically consists of materials such as hydrocarbons (oil, grease, emulsions, hydrocarbon-contaminated materials, oily water), chemicals (packaging/ expired or unused chemicals/ solvents/ other), batteries, medical waste, etc. All Gold Fields’ mines and projects have risk based procedures and processes in place. These are part of their Environmental Management Systems, which ensure that hazardous waste is collected, stored, transported and disposed of in a controlled manner that prevents environmental impact. Our hazardous waste is managed in accordance with statutory requirements and hazardous wastes are disposed of at designated, specially constructed, controlled and permitted hazardous landfill sites. Where remote mine operations do not have access to hazardous landfill sites, hazardous wastes are stored and / or disposed of in designated hazardous waste management landfill cells that are engineered to safely contain the waste, prevent environmental and potential social impacts, are rigorously managed and are permitted by the regulator.

Non-Hazardous Waste

Non-hazardous waste includes general landfill waste, non-contaminated metal waste, plastic waste, timber waste and paper or carton waste. 

Recycled Waste

Recycled ‘waste’ typically consists of any hazardous or non-hazardous material that can be recycled, such as paper, plastic, glass, metal etc. Hydrocarbon waste from our operations can also be recycled. For reporting purposes, we also consider non-contaminated timber that can be reused for firewood as recycled waste.


From a waste management perspective, we consider ‘brine’ to be the by-product or precipitate of a water treatment process, such as reverse osmosis. Brine is classified and managed as a hazardous waste (on or off-site).

To prevent ambiguity, the term ‘brine’ does not include an effluent emission that is saline, hypersaline or has a high total dissolved or suspended solid content and which may be discharged under controlled and permitted conditions. This type of effluent is not hazardous and reported under GRI Standard 306-1 “Water discharge by quality and destination”. Refer to our 2017 GRI Context Index for further details:

Waste Management Performance

With our enhanced focus on waste management we have improved our data collection and have improved our hazardous waste management reporting as presented in the following table:

Gold Fields Waste Management – Types of Waste Generated 2014 - 2017

Tonnes ‘1000 2017 2016 2015 2014
Tailings to dams 41 274 39 145 37 387 38 361
Waste rock to dump 170814 147891 129951 100161
212088 187035 167337 138521
Metal recycled - Weighed 13.3 14.3 11.4 11.1
Plastic Recycled - Weighed 0.10 0.18 0.09 0.06
Timber as firewood - Weighed 0.00 0.06 5.76 0.06
Paper and Carton recycled - Weighed 0.09 0.08 0.07 0.06
Hydrocarbons (oil, grease) 1.15
Other recycled - Weighed (e.g. batteries, fluros, chemicals) 1.37 1.73 1.90 1.52
Non-Hazardous Waste - on or off site disposal
General landfill - Weighed 11.01 11.56 11.16 13.34
Hazardous Waste - on or off site disposal
Brine Precipitate and Other 2.81 3.34 4.11 5.74
Source: Gold Fields 2017 GRI Content Index

Waste Management Targets

Gold Fields aims to continually improve its waste generation and waste management in accordance with the waste management hierarchy for all types of waste.

In 2016, Gold Fields set a target to maintain non-hazardous general landfill waste at 2015 levels (11,160 tonnes), by ensuring a reduction in the waste that reaches landfill through greater use of recycling and on-site waste separation. Though we were not able to meet this target in 2016, we achieved it in 2017. The same target has been set for 2018.

Our 2017 target for hazardous waste generation was to generate and dispose of less hazardous waste than we did in 2016. This target was achieved through a reduction of 530 tonnes of hazardous waste when compared with 2016. For 2018 we are setting ourselves a similar target, namely to reduce  hazardous waste generation to less than the 2,810 tonnes generated in 2018.

Our group-wide waste management has shown steady improvements over the last four years (2014 – 2017), as reflected in the graph below:

Gold Fields Non-Hazardous and Hazardous Waste Management Generated 2014-2017

Gold Fields Non-Hazardous and Hazardous Waste Management Generated 2014-2017