Summary of findings and company response
Gold Fields has published the following Environmental Policy Statement:
Gold Fields Limited undertakes its activities in a manner that strives to minimise or rectify adverse impacts and maximise positive impacts of an environmental or socio-economic nature. The company is committed to responsible stewardship of natural resources and the ecological environment for present and future generations.1
Gold Fields makes very little information on environmental non-compliances available to its shareholders. The information that is provided, however, is indicative of serious environmental harm, in particular in relation to tailings spillages and the discharge of untreated sewage into the environment. The company also provides no information about compliance inspections at its operations.
The Department of Mineral Resources and the Department of Water and Sanitation are responsible for compliance monitoring and enforcement of environmental and water laws by mining companies. Thus far, unlike the Department of Environmental Affairs, neither department has published any information on its compliance monitoring and enforcement action. This means that it is impossible to know whether or not the level of disclosure on environmental non-compliances by mining companies in their annual reports is accurate or incomplete.
For more information please see Enforcing the Law: the challenges undermining environmental compliance monitoring and enforcement in South Africa.
In his response to Full Disclosure, Nick Holland, Gold Fields’ CEO, provided some clarification on incidents mentioned in the company’s annual reports. He also referred to the water stewardship initiatives undertaken by the company at South Deep, and the consequent reduction in level 3 environmental incidents at the mine during heavy rains.
Mr Holland invited the CER to meet with the company “in order to obtain your input as we commence with planning the content of our 2015 Integrated Annual Report”.
- Gold Fields Limited Environmental Policy Statement, available at https://www.goldfields.co.za/pdf/policies/evironmental_statement.pdf