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Gold Fields takes big new Scope 3 decarbonisation step

Gold Fields interim CEO Martin Preece.

Gold Fields interim CEO Martin Preece.

Photo by Creamer Media Chief Photographer Donna Slater

27th November 2023

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The global transition to net zero emissions by 2050 requires significant deployment of clean energy technologies and increased material production and infrastructure.

This is top of mind within the Martin Preece-led Gold Fields, which has been exemplary when it comes to the commissioning of renewable energy.

Now it has taken a big new step within the Scope 3 decarbonisation area where even angels fear to tread. This is because, unlike Scope 1 and 2 emissions, over which companies have considerable control, Scope 3 emissions are generated outside their direct influence, both upstream and downstream of the value chain.

Gold Fields announced its new commitment on Monday, when it pledged to reduce Scope 3 carbon emissions by a net 10% from a 2022 baseline target.

This is in addition to the Johannesburg- and New York-listed decarbonisation forward strider going all out to cut its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by a net 30% by 2030 from a 2016 baseline.

The gold mining company has been quick off the mark commissioning 50 MW of solar power at its South Deep gold mine, west of Johannesburg, in Gauteng, where, in addition, it is now also looking to the commissioning of 60 MW to 80 MW of wind power.

Now the decarbonisation grafter Gold Fields has been quick off the mark in arriving at its Scope 3 target. To arrive at its latest advance, 18 months were spent working with the key suppliers to its mines to arrive at total 2022 Scope 3 emissions being 980 000 t of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e), which represents 36% of its total 2022 outpouring of 2 696 000 t CO2e.

The 36% level is an increase from the 25% reported previously and is based on the greenhouse-gas protocol and a new methodology by the International Council of Mining & Metals, launched in September this year.

The change now represents a summarised 74% Scope 3 baseline advance and overall 18% triple-scope decarbonisation intensification.

Meeting the Scope 3 emissions reduction target will require collaborative engagement with, and, ultimately, the successful implementation of decarbonisation efforts by its suppliers.

Gold mining companies generally have negligible downstream emissions as gold is largely refined before being sold for final use.

The study found that the company’s most significant upstream contributors to Scope 3 emissions were suppliers of fuels, mining services, cement and explosives.

Gold Fields will now intensify its engagement with the majority of its suppliers to reassess its decarbonisation progress, status, and targets in 2025 amid also opting to be net zero carbon by 2050 in line with its signature to the Paris Agreement.

Gold Fields Interim CEO Preece described as critical extension of the company’s decarbonisation commitment to its supply chain.

“We’ll be working with our suppliers to ensure that we jointly address our climate change impacts and actively engage those suppliers who have not yet committed to emission reductions.

“Other strategies include switching to greener products, moving to greener suppliers, and making emission reductions part of our procurement criteria,” Preece stated in a release to Mining Weekly.

The current 10% reduction target means that the company has to cut 100 000 t CO2e from its 2022 Scope 3 emission baseline of 980 000 t CO2e by 2030. As measured by emissions intensity, this will require a reduction from 346 000 g CO2e/oz in 2022 to 314 000 g CO2e/oz by 2030.

In contrast, its Scope 1 and 2 reduction commitments are against a 2016 baseline, when the company launched its climate change strategy, and require a net reduction of 510 000 t CO2e by 2030.

On a per-ounce basis, the reduction will be from 788 000 g CO2e/oz in 2016 to 423 000 g CO2e/oz.

As Gold Fields is expecting higher production levels by 2030, absolute reduction cuts could be significantly higher.

Owing to considerable renewable energy investment, which now accounts for 17% of its electricity mix, Gold Fields is making good progress in reducing Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

In 2023, it is on track to further reduce these emissions compared with 2022, which will also assist in reducing Scope 3 emissions.

As a gold producer with nine operating mines in Australia, South Africa, Ghana (including the Asanko joint venture) and Peru – with two projects in Canada and Chile – Gold Fields has total attributable yearly gold-equivalent production of 2.4-million ounces.

Its proved and probable gold mineral reserves total 46.1-million ounces, and it has measured and indicated gold mineral resources of 31.1-million ounces excluding mineral reserves, as well as inferred gold mineral resources of 11.2-million ounces, again excluding mineral reserves.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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