13 July 2012 – Gold Fields plans to establish a 10 to 15 MW biomass energy plant in Ghana on the boundary of its Tarkwa mine in the country. All the power generated at the plant would be used by the mining operation.
It is expected that the plant, which will initially use feedstock from maturing rubber plantations, will be commissioned in 2013. Gold Fields is analysing opportunities for the future sourcing of biomass from local communities. The project benefits from funding assistance through the international Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and has the potential to produce up to 45,000 CERs a year, either to sell or to off-set carbon emissions from the company’s other operations.
The Gold Fields west African operations also took steps to deal with their electricity costs, which rose by 54% during 2011. This was partly due to rising demand within the wider Ghanaian economy, a reduction in the availability of hydro-generated electricity to deregulated mining companies and increased reliance on costlier thermal-generated power.
During 2011, the company negotiated – both bilaterally and through the Ghanaian Chamber of Mines – with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Volta River Authority (VRA) over future supply options and tariff structures.
The Damang mine in Ghana, owned and operated by Gold Fields, experienced a number of power supply interruptions in 2011, due to weak local power infrastructure and severe weather events. As a result, the mine was on occasion required to rely on its on-site diesel back-up generators, resulting in an average loss of production of 1,000 ounces of gold a quarter. Gold Fields reports that ECG has provided assurances as to the reliability of its future supply and the mining company is also enhancing its power generation capacity in Ghana to mitigate the impacts of any future outages. For example, Gold Fields is examining the potential for power generation from waste gas, supplied by independent power producers.