Home » Gold Fields Nears Decision on South Deep Wind Power Project

Gold Fields Nears Decision on South Deep Wind Power Project

Company Evaluates Environmental Impact, Operational Feasibility for Q3 Decision

by Adenike Adeodun

Gold Fields, a prominent mining company, is on the cusp of deciding whether to establish a wind power project at its South Deep gold mine located west of Johannesburg. This decision, expected in the third quarter of 2024, is part of the company’s broader strategy to embrace sustainable energy sources and reduce its carbon footprint.

The South Deep wind power project is currently in the scoping and feasibility stage, which includes a detailed environmental impact assessment. One critical environmental concern is the project’s potential impact on a local bat colony. The company has installed a meteorological tower at the site since early 2023 to measure wind availability at various heights, which will provide essential data to support the project’s viability.

Gold Fields CEO Mike Fraser, speaking at a recent quarterly results and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) presentation, indicated that the company is optimistic about the economic viability of the project. However, he noted that the full feasibility study needs to be concluded to proceed.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project is a significant focus area, with studies expected to continue for a few more months. Gold Fields VP of Environmental Performance, Andrew Parsons, noted that they now possess a year’s set of data, and the EIA report is anticipated soon. This thorough environmental scrutiny underscores Gold Fields’ commitment to sustainable and responsible mining practices.

Besides environmental concerns, South Deep faces operational challenges, particularly with backfill in its underground workings. Significant leakage of backfill materials has been restricting access to mining stopes and affecting the availability of future mining areas. Approximately 2,000 meters of backfill needs to be managed to allow for advanced development, highlighting the need for efficient and innovative operational solutions.

Gold Fields has reiterated its commitment to decarbonizing its operations. The company aims to reduce its net emissions by 30% and its absolute emissions by 50% by 2030, based on projected production volumes. These targets are part of a broader initiative to align with global efforts to combat climate change and reduce the environmental impact of mining operations.

The contribution of renewable energy sources to Gold Fields’ electricity mix is growing, with renewables accounting for 17% of the group’s total energy requirements in the previous year. This increase is primarily due to new solar plants at the Gruyere gold mine in Australia and ongoing projects at other sites. For instance, the St Ives mine in Australia is constructing solar and wind plants that will significantly reduce electricity costs and emissions.

Another critical component of Gold Fields’ environmental strategy is its tailings management, adhering to the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management. The company is also making significant strides in water management, with ambitious targets to recycle 80% of the water used and reduce freshwater use by 45% by 2030.

Gold Fields places a strong emphasis on governance and compliance, viewing it as foundational to building stakeholder trust. The company is navigating an increasing array of ESG reporting requirements and is actively engaging with the emerging challenges and opportunities presented by artificial intelligence (AI) in the mining sector.

As Gold Fields approaches its decision on the South Deep wind power project, the company continues to balance its operational needs with its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. The outcomes of the ongoing feasibility studies and environmental assessments will be crucial in shaping the future of the South Deep mine and Gold Fields’ overall strategy in the face of global environmental challenges. The mining sector’s watchful eyes will be on Gold Fields as it navigates these complex issues, striving to set a benchmark in responsible mining practices.


Source: Mining Weekly

You may also like

Leave a Comment

The African Miner is the vanguard of the mining industry, delivering world-class insight and news.

Latest Stories

© 2024 The African Miner. All Rights Reserved.