2022 was a year of recovery, refocus and consolidation for AngloGold Ashanti as we dealt with post-pandemic impacts within the Company and our communities, in the context of a global climate that faced geopolitical uncertainties, and significant reorganisation within AngloGold Ashanti itself.
We deal with all three aspects in this report:
- A review of what we learned and have done during the year
- A focus on those issues that are most important to our Company and our stakeholders
- And insight into our targets and plans for the future..
What we learned
Turning first to the pandemic that dominated so much of our operating landscape in prior years: it is my view that AngloGold Ashanti responded both responsibly and effectively to the COVID-19 global health crisis. We needed to promptly align our resources to protect the safety and health of our employees and contractors to continue business as efficiently as possible, and to ensure that we responded appropriately in the different jurisdictions where we operate.
The outcome has been a more resilient organisation, not only in the health and work systems put in place within the Company to deal with similar emergencies in future, but in supporting and contributing to community health delivery. We could have taken an insular view – focusing only on the health of our workforce. But we did not. We involved ourselves in our larger communities and the countries in which we operate, and in so doing forged new and improved partnerships that can help strengthen our social licence to operate over the long term.
The pandemic has also made mental health and well-being a fundamental pillar of human capital management. Beyond the stresses that COVID-19 brought, we know that mining can be a demanding — and sometimes stressful — business. Indeed, the effects of mental health cut across all functional disciplines of our organisation. The support work done during the pandemic shows that companies can play a positive role in supporting overall employee and contractor well-being. The measures that have been put in place, and the mainstreaming of mental health programmes, will stand the Company and our workforce in good stead for yearsto come.
The challenges we experienced at our sites through the disruption of global supply chains was another learning experience for us, resulting in a determination to build resilience by increasing and strengthening local resourcing and supply chains. We are doing more to ensure our procurement systems and our supplier development programmes are better linked to local industries and communities. This would help facilitate not only strong levels of local participation and employment, which are laudable in themselves, but also enhance diversity, inclusion and equity in our supply chains.
We have made steady progress towards embedding our decarbonisation strategy and plotting our net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions pathway by 2050 over the past year, as we implemented a new climate strategy – published in our 2020/21 Climate Change Report. Critically, our commitment to reduce carbon emissions from our operations and our pathway to net zero comes with specific commitments and plans, particularly insofar as reducing our Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions is concerned.
Our downstream Scope 3 GHG emissions are relatively small compared with many other metal producers. So, it is the upstream emissions that require our immediate focus.
So often, the issues that face us – both challenges and opportunities – are interlinked. In thinking about climate change and our efforts to decarbonise our supply chains, we face a similar reality in how we mitigate the impact of necessary transportation on our supply chains and our carbon footprint. In this regard it is important for us to optimise shipping distances and seek to build stronger local supply chains where possible.
Furthermore, we recognise that issues relating to climate impact and adaptation are inextricably linked with our communities. The principles of sustainability, livelihoods and overall resilience must continue to be embedded in our approach to social investment and the selection of community projects. This will help ensure we support our communities in adapting to the consequences of climate variability.
One of the most important issues to emerge from COP27 is the concept of loss and damage – to communities and nations. While this loss and damage may not have been caused by our operations, we are part of, and operate in, these affected environments. So, as good corporate citizens we will continue to play a role in helping address some of these impacts.
Artisanal and small-scale mining
Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is an integral part of some of the communities in which we operate, and has been for hundreds of years. The question for us is how we coexist with legal ASM and how we work with the authorities and other stakeholders on the matter of illegal ASM. ASM is a phenomenon brought about by a complexity of factors, including political, social, economic, and now environmental too. There is no doubt that ASM becomes more prevalent during times of economic hardship as we are seeing today in some of the jurisdictions in which we operate.
A key to managing ASM at and around our operations will be our ability to gain a deeper understanding of the multi-layered drivers of the issue, and seeing how we can address some of its underlying causes and mitigate some of its negative impacts. By appreciating the complexity of ASM and its causal factors, we will be better able to design the requisite complex solutions to address these risks, and perhaps turn them into opportunities.
The Convention on Biodiversity, which was given greater impetus at COP15, and the development of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD), will likely have similar impact to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) – increasing focus and disclosure. For us, the inter-relationship between mining and ecosystems has always been an area of focus. When it comes to the assessment of impact, understanding biodiversity that existed before our operations may in some instances be a challenging task.
In this, a few things are clear. We must continue to look for ways to minimise our footprint, we must work to restore what we have altered, and we must rehabilitate – if not to prior state then to appropriate land use. Access to diverse ecosystems is a fundamental right that we must respect. To this end, we seek to integrate social dimensions right from the beginning of our closure strategies, to ensure long lasting positive legacies where we operate.
Discrimination and sexual harassment
During the year, AngloGold Ashanti embarked on an active workplace cultural change transformation programme. This included an initiative reinforcing zero tolerance for all kinds of discrimination and negative behaviours in the workplace, including sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination. This will go a long way towards securing psychological and physical safety for our employees and contractors but we continue to monitor these issues closely. While many aspects of this approach have been in place for many years, there has been heightened awareness, especially in relation to sexual harassment of women in the workplace.
The management and oversight of our approach and practice regarding tailings has been another area of significant effort and progress. We continue to work towards conformance with the Global Industry Standard in Tailings Management (GISTM). We are proud of our track record in responsibly managing our tailings storage facilities (TSFs) and will continue to approach their management with an abundance of caution. We have embraced new technologies and processes and have audited all the TSFs under our management. Where necessary, we have undertaken additional precautionary measures to meet regulatory and other requirements. We have put in place the appropriate governance structures to specifically guide and review what we do – this is a matter on which there will be no compromise within the Company. This includes the programme to buttress the Calcinados tailings storage facility which services the Queiroz plant within our AGA Mineração operating unit, in Brazil.
In my capacity on the SES Committee, I take heart in the fact that AngloGold Ashanti takes environmental, social and governance matters seriously, contributing to our Company’s overall ESG performance. Our work on these issues is directed by the Board and its sub-committees – not only my own – and it is embedded within the functioning and DNA of the Company.
I see the rise of ESG concerns and demands – from investors, governments, employees and communities – as an opportunity. Fundamentally, we know that when businesses take care of society (including the environment), then both business and society prosper. The benefit and trust developed between business and society in the context of COVID-19 is a good example of business standing with society to navigate through a major crisis.
More than that, discerning investors, partners, prospective employees, and host communities are more likely to invest in and welcome companies that do the right thing. We are determined not only to maintain our reputation, but also to meet their and our own expectations.
Dr Kojo Busia
Chairperson of the SES Committee
15 March 2023
I take heart in
the fact that AngloGold Ashanti takes environmental, social and governance matters seriously, contributing to our overall ESG performance.