Gold Fields is set to become the world’s first gold mining company to sell Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), the financial securities used to trade carbon emissions. It will derive the CERs from the capture of methane gas at its Beatrix gold mine in South Africa’s Free State province. The company will sell 1.7 million CERs to European energy trading company Mercuria Energy Trading under forward contracts which will run until 2016.CERs are traded globally and frequently bought by industrial companies as part of their efforts to alleviate their own carbon emission obligations. At current CER values and exchange rates, the CER contract is worth about R200 million.Gold Fields will use the funds to finance a number of projects linked to the methane capture. The first phase, set for completion before the end of this year, comprises the installation of a methane extraction system underground and flares above surface at a cost of about R42 million. For the second phase, Gold Fields is looking at ways of using the gas to generate electricity, thereby converting a harmful greenhouse gas into a valuable resource. Construction of a power generation plant, with the potential to generate about 5 MW of electricity, is scheduled to start next year.So far CERs-linked projects in Africa comprise less than 2% of the total number of projects registered by the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) executive board, the global body tasked with administering CERs trading. Gold Fields’ Beatrix project is one of around 15 South African projects that have to date received Designated National Authority verification from South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources.Gold Fields’ CEO, Nick Holland, comments: “In addition to the obvious financial and environmental benefits, this project will result in a safer working environment for our people at Beatrix, as it eliminates the hazard of underground mine methane, and it is one of many examples that shows Gold Fields’ commitment to being the global leader in sustainable gold mining.”Methane emanates from underground geological features such as faults, fissures and dykes and escapes during the normal course of mining operations. If released into the atmosphere it is a potent greenhouse gas. At Beatrix the methane gas will be captured at source underground and then conveyed via a network of pipes to the surface, where the methane will be flared. Installation of the underground pipes is well underway.Mercuria Energy Trading’s Jean Francois Steels said of the transaction: “This is our first transaction in Africa and follows shortly on the opening of our newest international office in South Africa. It shows our commitment to improving the geographical distribution of carbon finance to include the African continent.”The Beatrix development is the first in a number of carbon projects Gold Fields is investigating to bolster its sustainable mining practices. The strategy is underpinned by efforts to become more energy efficient and thus reduce dependence on coal-fired electricity.