Gold Fields Limited recognises that global warming and associated climate change is a reality that any organisation doing business in the 21st century needs to understand and respond to. In its pursuit of being “the global leader in sustainable gold mining”, Gold Fields is committed to contributing to a global solution through the deployment of responsible strategies and actions.
Because of the detrimental effects of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases on climate change, the world economy is changing from being fossil fuel- and hence carbon-based to being carbon-constrained. Companies that wish to thrive in the new carbon-constrained economy realise the importance of having an integrated carbon management strategy. Having a carbon management strategy is now a sustainable business imperative; without one, the ability to operate effectively and profitably in the future will undoubtedly be compromised.
To this end, Gold Fields Limited has recently drawn up a Carbon Policy statement, which articulates, inter alia, that “to attain our corporate vision of being the global leader in sustainable gold mining” with the associated underpinning responsibilities, we are committed to designing and implementing strategies that seek to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency, determine the risks posed by climate change, quantify our carbon footprint and comply with all applicable legislative requirements as well as disclose such information comprehensively.
Accordingly, the company has not only adopted the Carbon Policy statement; it has recently compiled a comprehensive, integrated Carbon Management Strategy, which was approved by the Group’s Executive Committee in November 2009. This strategy seeks to provide an enabling environment in which carbon – and climate change – related issues are incorporated into business planning models and decision making processes throughout the organisation.
While the topic of climate change, global warming and carbon foot printing is not new, the adoption of relevant and fundamental policies, strategies and action plans by the corporate sector is relatively novel. Gold Fields is ever mindful of this and is, accordingly, trying to apply an innovative, fresh approach to carbon management. As a global player, Gold Fields has been actively aligning the company’s operations with the realities of a low carbon economy since 1995. The company has been lauded among industry peers and external agencies for the progressive, forward-thinking manner in which it is tackling this challenge.
As part of its response to climate change, Gold Fields has done much work to establish itself as a credible, responsible corporate citizen: during 2007 and 2008, the company determined and disclosed its carbon footprint to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). As a result of the quality of its submissions, Gold Fields ranked second in the 2008 Carbon Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI) amongst the JSE’s Top 100 carbon intensive sector. In the 2009 CDLI it was ranked fifth and in 2010 Gold Fields was joined first. In the 2010 CDP Awards the company was also ranked as one of the top four Top 100 JSE companies in terms of their strategies to mitigate the impact of high carbon emissions.
In June 2010 the company also won Energy Risk magazine’s 2010 Deal of the Year award for becoming the world’s first gold mining company to sell Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), the financial securities used to trade carbon emissions.
Through the implementation of its integrated carbon management strategy, Gold Fields will seek to:
- Limit its liabilities ahead of impending emissions regulation;
- Enhance its corporate reputation by being an industry leader in sustainable mining;
- Increase perceived company valuation and access to capital;
- Improve employee wellbeing and pride;
- Reduce the impact of volatile weather conditions through planning and appropriate investments;
- Decrease energy costs through improved energy efficiency and lower emissions; and
- Increase revenues through opportunities such as carbon trading.
At present, the strategy has been distilled into 15 key initiatives or work stream elements. The implementation of these initiatives will result in the comprehensive rollout of the Gold Fields Carbon Management Strategy. Although the development of the carbon management strategy has, until now, been focused on the company’s South African operations, the strategy will be rolled out across all operating regions in the foreseeable future.
To assist with this rollout, the company has also developed a communication strategy linked to its carbon management programme. Integral to this will be a management toolkit intended to raise awareness of carbon related issues, as well as provide management with an outline of how to implement and adopt relevant action plans. Development of the toolkit will commence shortly.