Gold Fields Emphasizes ESG Commitment at Annual General Meeting

At this week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Yunus Suleman, Chairperson of Gold Fields, underscored the integral role of managing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) aspects in ensuring the long-term success of the company.

Investment in renewable energy, community value creation, and safety highlighted as key components of Gold Fields’ sustainable mining strategy.

Gold Fields

At this week’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), Yunus Suleman, Chairperson of Gold Fields, underscored the integral role of managing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) aspects in ensuring the long-term success of the company. The Johannesburg- and New York-listed gold mining company reaffirmed its commitment to reducing carbon emissions, fostering community value creation, and enhancing safety measures.

Renewable Energy Investments

In his address, Suleman highlighted Gold Fields’ significant investments in renewable energy projects as part of its strategy to reduce carbon emissions and ensure energy reliability. “We have a critical role to play in addressing some of the key challenges facing society,” Suleman stated. “The commitment to reducing our carbon emissions by investing in renewables projects is a case in point.”

Gold Fields has made substantial progress in this area, with new solar plants at South Deep and Gruyere contributing to 17% of the company’s electricity needs in 2023. South Deep’s 50 MW solar plant, located 50 km southwest of Johannesburg, may soon be complemented by wind power. The Gruyere joint venture gold mine, situated 1,200 km northeast of Perth, also benefits from renewable energy initiatives.

Further advancements are expected as the board approved a $195-million renewable power project at the St Ives mine in February 2024. This project, set to generate up to 73% of the mine’s electricity requirements, underscores Gold Fields’ commitment to long-term sustainability. St Ives, located 630 km east of Perth, has already commenced construction of the plant.

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Host Community Value Creation

Suleman emphasized the importance of investing in near-mine communities to secure a social license to operate and create value for host communities. In 2023, community-related investments surpassed the $1-billion mark, driven by employment, procurement, and social initiatives. “Mines cannot be an island in a sea of unemployment and poverty. This is why we seek to create enduring value for our host communities,” Suleman stated.

Gold Fields’ commitment to community value creation is evident in its substantial contributions since 2016. Social, Ethics, and Transformation Chairperson Jacqueline McGill reported that Gold Fields has created over $6.3 billion in value for its host communities, benefiting an estimated 750,000 people. Additionally, host governments received $540 million in taxes, royalties, and dividends in the past year, with 95% of procurement spend remaining in-country.

Safety and Wellbeing

The AGM also addressed safety and wellbeing, observing a moment of silence to remember five fatalities that occurred last year. Two fatalities took place at the Tarkwa gold mine in Ghana, with another contract worker for the Gold Fields Ghana Foundation fatally injured at one of its projects. Two more fatalities occurred this year, one at South Deep in January and another at St Ives in April.

Gold Fields is conducting an independent review of its safety processes, standards, and systems. “We’ll collaborate with management to assess the findings of this review and implement the recommendations as soon as possible,” Suleman promised.

The company’s commitment to safety extends to psychological safety and mental wellbeing, highlighted by the independent Elizabeth Broderick & Co workplace review conducted last year. New policies and practices have been introduced and are monitored quarterly to foster a positive workplace culture characterized by care, respect, and inclusivity.

Exploration and Strategic Partnerships

Gold Fields continues to pursue exploration and development projects to sustain its growth. The company is engaging in greenfield exploration, development projects, bolt-on acquisitions, and strategic joint venture partnerships. Notable partnerships include collaborations with Osisko Mining at Windfall in Quebec, Canada, and AngloGold Ashanti at Tarkwa/Iduapriem.

Gold Fields operates across South Africa, Ghana, Australia, Chile, and Peru, producing 2.3 million ounces of gold-equivalent per year and holding proved and probable gold mineral reserves of 46.1 million ounces. Despite extreme weather events affecting three of its nine operating mines in the first quarter of 2024, the company expects production volumes to be weighted towards the second half of the year.

Conservation Efforts

Interestingly, Gold Fields’ decade-long research on chinchillas has contributed to the conservation of these mountain rodents. This research informs the current capture and relocation efforts at the Salares Norte gold mine in Chile, which produced its first gold in March. Situated 4,500 meters above sea level in one of the world’s driest deserts, Salares Norte collaborates with regulators and independent environmental experts to protect chinchillas.

Gold Fields’ AGM highlighted the company’s unwavering commitment to ESG principles, renewable energy investments, community value creation, and safety. These initiatives not only enhance operational efficiency and sustainability but also contribute to the broader well-being of communities and the environment. As Gold Fields continues to implement these strategies, it sets a strong example for sustainable mining practices in the industry.

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