AngloGold Ashanti’s environment policy continues to evolve and is centred on our commitment to avoid, minimise, and mitigate the impact of our activities on the environment. We proactively manage risks to air, land, biodiversity and water resources during the mining lifecycle.
Nature moved up the global agenda over 2022 and in November we supported the ICMM CEO’s call on world leaders to prioritise action on nature at the COP15 UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal. The summit culminated in a historic agreement by over 180 nations, which will guide global action to halt and reverse nature loss by 2030. Through our ICMM membership, we have closely followed the development and pilot testing of the Task Force on Nature-related Financial Disclosure’s (TNFD) Framework. The final TNFD Framework is expected to be released in September 2023. Both the COP15 Agreement and the evolving TNFD Framework are anticipated to influence our environmental policy and standards going forward.
At a Company level, our environmental policy takes into consideration the specific and varying factors that impact our sites across the world. The application of the policy is supported by a set of environmental management standards.
Senior operational managers are responsible for ensuring operations comply with their respective regulatory and permit requirements, as well as our Environmental Management Standards.
Day-to-day management is enabled by site-level Environment Management Systems that are externally certified to the ISO 14001:2015 Standard. Assurance of site-level performance against the Environment Management Standards is undertaken on a rotational basis by teams of functional specialists from corporate office.
Our environmental management work extends well beyond the issues identified in this report of climate and energy, water, and tailings. Key 2022 data on the management of materials, hazardous waste, biodiversity and acid rock drainage is provided in our <ESGD> .
Integrated closure management
Planning for closure requires a multi-focused approach, which takes into account related social, economic, environmental and governance issues. Our approach to integrated closure management is guided by our Closure Planning Standard, which sets out how we identify and manage current and future risks and liabilities associated with mine closure. It allows the Company to leave sites in a condition that is safe and stable, with minimal adverse impacts on people and the environment, and to help ensure communities are empowered to define and experience their own post-mining future. The Closure Planning Standard is being updated to align with the ICMM’s Integrated Mine Closure Good Practice Guide 2019 as well as general learnings from our experience since the approval of the current standard in 2013. In 2022, we started using the ICMM Closure Maturity Framework for continuous improvement in mine closure planning throughout the mine life cycle of our assets.
We seek to ensure that all our operations have mine closure plans (MCPs) that comply with all applicable laws, regulations and requirements. In Australia both Tropicana and Sunrise Dam submitted updated MCPs to the regulators in 2022 and so did Iduapriem in Ghana.
Where we can, we continue to rehabilitate concurrently with mining and processing operations. At Iduapriem, encapsulation of an old waste rock dump that had been generating acid rock drainage (ARD) continued, as a way of finding a “walk away” solution at mine closure. The rehabilitation design seeks to ensure run-off water is shed off the facility, thus eradicating ARD formation. Implementation of the final closure plan of the Córrego do Sítio tailings storage facility continued in Brazil, using filtered tailings as part of the closure materials.
Our closure programmes are premised on building and earning stakeholder trust. Stakeholder input is sought throughout each site’s life cycle, and closure management plans must balance corporate and stakeholder interests while complying with regulatory obligations and commitments. In this regard Obuasi mine established a Closure Consultative Committee (CCC) comprising mine leadership, traditional leaders, local government authorities and national government regulators, who have all provided valuable input into the several closure projects at the mine. Similarly, at Geita, the primary means of stakeholder involvement in direct closure issues is through the National Mine Closure Committee (NMCC), which includes members from the mine, the local communities as well as multiple government agencies. This approach to closure aligns with our aim of contributing to creating resilient communities that can adjust, adapt, and thrive post mining.
All our sites continue to play a pivotal role in supporting alternative livelihood initiatives. These are conducted through their respective socio-economic development programmes and by strengthening value-sharing efforts, such as the localisation of supply chains and employment.
Post-closure economic considerations are integral to mine closure planning. At Obuasi, two areas, one previously hosting a mine shaft and processing plant and another which is the footprint of re-processed tailings dams, have been reclaimed. Infrastructure is being developed for handover to the local municipality for mixed use developments that will include residential, commercial, industrial and recreational areas.
We undertake quarterly reviews and updates of our mine closure liability estimates to comply with legislative changes and align to business plans, closure plans, facility designs and unit rates for implementation activities. As of 31 December 2022, the consolidated Group environmental liability estimates were $578m (2021: $673m).
Financial assurance for mine closure has been widely adopted by governments and companies internationally. It is our policy to seek to ensure that resources are available to meet our closure obligations. We achieve this by having a range of financial instruments/assurance (including accounting provisions, escrow accounts, and bank/insurance guarantees) for mine closure that comply with the national legislative framework of the countries where we operate.
Material issues addressed in this section
Our environmental management work extends well beyond the issues identified in this report of climate and energy, water, and