Continental Africa

There are seven mining operations in our Continental Africa region, four of which are currently in operation – with one of these treating tailings and another oxide ore. Of these four, AngloGold Ashanti manages three.

Our operations in this region are:

In Ghana:

  • Iduapriem, an open-pit mine comprising the Iduapriem and Teberebie properties and the Ajopa South West concession, is located in the western region of Ghana
  • Obuasi, an underground mine in the Ashanti region of Ghana, was placed on care and maintenance from 2016. Following the decision to redevelop the mine in 2018, the redevelopment project began early in 2019. First gold was poured in December 2019

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

  • Kibali, one of the largest mines of its kind in Africa, is situated in north-eastern DRC. The mine, which has both open pit and underground operations, is co-owned by AngloGold Ashanti (45%), Barrick (45%), which manages the mine, and Société Minière de Kilo-Moto (SOKIMO) (10%), a state-owned gold mining company

In Tanzania:

  • Geita is located in the Lake Victoria goldfields, in north-western Tanzania. The Geita gold deposit is mined as a multiple open-pit and underground operation

In Guinea:

  • Siguiri is a multiple open-pit oxide gold mine in the relatively remote district of Siguiri, in which AngloGold Ashanti has an 85% interest. The remaining 15% is held in trust for the nation by the government of Guinea. Siguiri is contractor-mined using conventional open-pit techniques

In Mali:

  • Morila is a joint venture between AngloGold Ashanti and Barrick, in which each has a 40% interest. The remaining 20% is held by the government of Mali. The mine completed mining of the satellite pits in 2019 and will treat material from tailings storage for remainder of its life
  • Sadiola, which is jointly held by AngloGold Ashanti (41%), IAMGOLD (41%) and the government of Mali (18%) began operating in 1996. Mining ceased during 2018 and the operation began the treatment of stockpiles. The sale of the combined 82% interest in Sadiola to Allied Gold Corporation for $105m was announced in December 2019. All conditions precedent are expected to have been fulfilled or waived by the end of April 2020

Operating performance

Production

Production from the Continental Africa region increased to 1.538Moz in 2019 compared to 1.512Moz in 2018. This was largely due to record production at Kibali and Iduapriem, and an exceptional performance at Geita.

Gold production at Iduapriem was 8% higher at a record 275,000oz compared to 254,000oz in 2018, primarily a result of a 14% improvement in plant feed. The grade improvement was driven by better grade control and access to Cut 1 area in the Teberebie pit where stripping commenced in 2017. Production was impacted by a 5% year-on-year decline in tonnage throughput due to lower plant availability owing to an unstable power supply from the national grid in the first half of the year and mill downtime in the last quarter of the year to repair a cracked trunnion journal on Sag Mill 2. The power supply challenge has since been resolved by changing over to Volta River Authority and Ghana Grid Company.

Geita produced 604,000oz in 2019, the highest level in 14 years, compared to 564,000oz in 2018. The operation is successfully transitioning to predominantly underground operations, with a 10% increase in recovered grades achieved on the back of additional flexibility in the blending strategy resulting in improved recovery rates. Record quarterly production of 208,000oz was achieved in the last quarter of the year, largely a result of the higher volumes of tonnes treated and higher-grade material from Star & Comet Cut 3.

Production at Siguiri declined to 213,000oz in 2019. This compares with production of 242,000oz in 2018. The lower production was mainly due to lower plant feed grade and recovery which is related to the ROM 3 crushing plant low performance and material feed blend to the plant. This was a result of a slower ramp-up than anticipated following the completion of the carbon-in-leach (CIL) combination plant integration during the year. By year-end, quarterly production had improved as the processing challenges from the treatment of harder rock material through the plant had been addressed.

At Kibali, production increased to a record of 366,000oz in 2019 (2018: 363,000oz), a result of the ramp up in underground mining, which partially offset the 9% decrease in tonnes treated due to the planned reduction in open pit mining. The mine delivered higher volumes of underground tonnes as the shaft operated in line with design specifications for the full year. Total volume of underground ore hoisted was 15% higher year-on-year.

Sadiola continued to process the stockpile and optimise costs, producing 51,000oz in 2019. This compares to 59,000oz in 2018. The end of mining activities and the depletion of full grade ore stockpiles in 2018 led to a higher proportion of marginal grade ore from the stockpiles being fed to the plant in 2019.

Morila’s production decreased, as planned, to 27,000oz in 2019 compared to 30,000oz in 2018, following the completion of satellite pit mining at the start of the first half of the year. Production was also impacted by a 16% decrease in recovered grade as the mine continued to treat tailings material. This was partially offset by a 9% increase in tonnes treated compared to the previous year.

Costs

All-in sustaining costs for the region decreased to $896/oz for 2019, a result of lower operating costs at Geita, given the decline in open pit mining and transition to underground mining, lower operating costs at Sadiola and Morila as they wind down operations, as well as cost savings achieved from reagent optimisation at both Geita and Iduapriem.

The drive for continuous cost improvements through the Operational Excellence programme is well entrenched across all sites and disciplines in the region. The focus remains on delivering systemic and sustainable operational improvements in the management of the region’s stay-in-business projects.

Capital expenditure

Total capital expenditure for the region increased to $410m in 2019, from $313m in 2018. This was in line with planned inward investment in growth projects, particularly at Obuasi where $246m was spent in the redevelopment of the project (see box below). Underground Ore Reserve development projects continued at Geita, for Star & Comet and Nyankanga, and at Obuasi. These projects will provide access to orebodies identified for future gold extraction. The balance of the capital spend was used for capitalised exploration and stay-in-business projects to improve asset reliability across our mines to ensure safe, risk-free mining and production.

Growth and improvement

Commissioning of the Siguiri CIL combination plant was completed in 2019 with the mill achieving design throughput consistently. Optimisation of the circuit is now underway. The prefeasibility study for the Block 2 Project was completed, and the feasibility study is expected to be completed by end of the second quarter in 2020. Evaluation of Siguiri Block 2 and the trucking of oxide material to the existing process plant to displace marginal ore was completed. The aim is to improve the mine’s ounce profile from 2021 onwards and potentially extend its life of mine. Permits for construction of the new haul road have been received while the mining permit application is currently in progress.

At Geita, the development of Nyankanga Block 1 Portal began in December 2019 to accelerate mining in Blocks 1 and 2 following the delay in permitting for Geita Hill.

Development of Geita’s Star & Comet and Nyankanga underground operations continued during the year. Approximately 4,568m of development was completed during the year to access new areas for stope mining and further exploration. Open pit mining at Nyankanga will reach the end of its economic life during 2020. Surface exploration continued at Selous, a satellite pit 2.4km from Star & Comet, to supplement the underground operation in the near term.

At Iduapriem waste stripping for Teberebie Cut 1 was completed and ore was mined from Teberebie Cut 1, Cut 3, Ajopa and Block 3. Stripping in Cut 2 is expected to start during the first half of 2020 to deliver ore in 2021 when Cut 1 ore is depleted. Brownfields drilling continued at the Ajopa pit and open pit mining has been extended to Cut 3 to supplement ore from the larger Teberebie pit. Major brownfield exploration drilling continued at Blocks 7 and 8, Ajopa and Block 1 to improve the mine’s future ounce profile and potentially extend the life of mine.

The prefeasibility studies for the new tailings storage facility and return water dam (RWD) sites were completed. Related feasibility study is planned to be completed in 2020. Construction sites were identified and land access compensation and engagement with the relevant government authorities began for the permitting of the new facilities. In the second half of 2019 the mine undertook a feasibility study to consider treatment options to discharge excess water efficiently on the current greenfield tailings storage facility, the completion of which is expected in 2020.

At Kibali, the Kalimva-Ikamva prefeasibility study was completed, delivering another viable opencast project. This will help balance the mine’s open cast/underground ore ratio and enhance mine plan flexibility. Drilling at Gorumbwa highlighted future underground potential and ongoing conversion drilling at KCD is delivering Ore Reserve replenishment. The mine is well placed to meet its 10-year production targets and extend them beyond this horizon.

Sustainability performance

In the Continental Africa region, our principal sustainable development activities relate to the following material issues:

Employee safety

There were no fatalities in the Continental Africa region in 2019, with the last fatal injury having been recorded in October 2015. The all injury frequency rate (AIFR) for the year was 0.62 injuries per million hours worked across the region. The region saw a regression from the previous year, primarily due to an increased number of injuries associated with the redevelopment project currently underway at Obuasi in Ghana.


Employee and community health

We continued with constant monitoring and control of workplace exposures to dust, noise and lead, which are important occupational health focus areas. One case of occupational disease was diagnosed in 2019, a noise-induced hearing loss case at Geita. Necessary medical support was provided and workplace controls were strengthened to prevent adverse effects on other employees, including contractors. In particular, occupational health hazard programmes designed to deal with occupational exposures such as airborne pollutants and noise are being introduced at Obuasi in Ghana and Geita in Tanzania, as it moves underground.

Non-occupational lifestyle and community health risks such as malaria, which is endemic in our African operations, as well as the persistent Ebola virus in the DRC also present challenges to business productivity and continuity.

In Ghana, malaria control activities continued in collaboration with the Ghana Department of Health as well as The Global Fund.


Contributing to resilient self-sustaining communities

Work within communities continued in the region. Each operation has a forward-looking community engagement strategy that identifies potential areas of concern for the respective communities. We have local economic development programmes, which are developed and run in partnership with local governments and host communities.

These programmes are aimed at contributing towards economic growth, income-generating opportunities, creation of employment, and nurturing sustainable livelihoods beyond the life of mine. Implementation of our local procurement policy, approved in 2018, continued in 2019. This policy is central to building local value chains to support local supplier development. During the year, a multi-stakeholder workshop led to completion of a local business development framework and guidelines for sustainable development across the Continental Africa region.

In Ghana, legislation on local procurement is in place and in the Obuasi redevelopment project we are using local suppliers and contractors.

AngloGold Ashanti has helped facilitate the development of a satellite Obuasi campus for Ghana’s renowned Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), which is headquartered in the city of Kumasi. See the case study Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology develops an Obuasi campus from the <SR>.

At Obuasi, a social management plan has been designed and is being implemented for the benefit of the community, and a trust fund composed of representatives from across the community, the Obuasi Community Trust Fund, was established.


Responsible environmental stewardship

There was one reportable environmental incident in the region in 2019, at Siguiri where cyanide-bearing solution draining into a temporary spillage pond reached the external spillage pond, which unfortunately caused the deaths of a cow and birds which drank from the pond. Immediate action was taken to isolate and detoxify water in the external pond and a full investigation initiated to understand and address the cause of the release. Remedial action was taken to prevent similar incidents in future.

All operational mine sites in the region have been certified to the new ISO 14001:2015 Environmental Management System. Their first surveillance audits were successfully conducted in 2019. Obuasi’s certification remained suspended for 2019 as the mine was being recommissioned.

Geita and Sadiola submitted mine closure plans to their respective governments for approval, while Siguiri and Iduapriem are expected to update theirs during 2020. Obuasi continued to implement the legacy closure works as agreed in the Reclamation Security Agreement signed with the Ghana Government. Also see <OP> for reclamation work that has begun at Obuasi.


Employee, community and asset security

In all countries in which we operate, threat and risk assessments are conducted to determine which security resources are required. In Mali, Tanzania, Ghana and Guinea, risk assessments categorise threats as high and require the involvement of state police and/or military units (public security forces) on a near-permanent basis. Our goal is to be proactive, constantly assessing the risks and, where we see potential threats, we develop and implement mitigating strategies to address these.


Artisanal and small-scale mining

Major mining markets across Africa faced growing risks from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) and illegal mining activities in 2019, exacerbated by the stronger gold price and deteriorating socio-economic conditions. We continued to engage with governments and other stakeholders on our ASM formalisation programmes.

Countries in the region affected by ASM are Tanzania, Ghana, Mali and Guinea. Our two-pronged approach to legal ASM includes providing direct support in formalising ASM and helping to establish alternative livelihoods by promoting local enterprise development. We also work together with country law enforcement agencies in protecting our mining tenements.


Respecting human rights

No human rights violations were recorded, and no incidents were reported during the year. However, proactive management of ASM, illegal mining and general criminality remains a focal point for the security discipline in the region.

Our performance in this space continues to improve, and most notably we have recorded two years without a human rights violation, despite the complex human rights challenges in our operating landscapes. Potential human rights violations (allegations) are generally self-reported, which emphasises a maturing human rights culture within the business. All operations in the region have appropriate grievance and independent anonymous whistle-blowing mechanisms, accessible to internal and external stakeholders. All allegations are rigorously investigated using accepted investigation protocols and, where applicable, investigations are independent.

Our ongoing commitment to the respect for human rights is evidenced by our participation in the UN Forum for Business and Human Rights, the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) initiative and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). As a member of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), AngloGold Ashanti actively participates in various working groups and initiatives designed to promote human rights.

Although a key challenge is to ensure human rights through our supply chain, ongoing work regarding supplier self-assessments, and better processes to monitor and track performance, is proving to be fruitful in contributing to the elimination of child labour and issues related to modern day slavery.

We maintain that through education and creating general awareness among internal and external stakeholders, and our resolute commitment to respect for human rights, we can achieve our goal of zero harm. In this regard, 4,604 people in the region attended either classroom or online training in 2019.

AngloGold Ashanti makes voluntary disclosure of the possible impacts that the business may have around its operations. In 2019, 48 injuries to community members as a result of security interventions were recorded in the region  increasing from 40 in 2018. These injuries occurred as a result of community members illegally entering our tenements. All injured people were treated on the scene by the mine’s medical emergency personnel before being taken to hospital for further treatment where necessary. In addition, injuries to community members not due to security interventions increased from nine in 2018 to 17 in 2019. Also see the <SR> Respecting human rights.

Close collaboration with other sustainability disciplines continued during the year to enable effective management of the multifaceted challenges facing our operations. Sustained focus on the implementation of the five-point security plan which actively includes community involvement, focusing on regenerating and sustaining relationships with communities, public security, pertinent governmental agencies and security at sites in an effort to remove people from risk. The VPSHR remain the key driver of our security management practices.


Talent management, skills development and employee relations

Localisation of talent is a feature of our human resources practice in the region. Good progress is being made in building talent and succession pools. In 2019, 16 key positions in the region were filled by local nationals, despite increases in expatriate numbers due to the Obuasi redevelopment and the move to underground mining currently underway at Geita. See <People are our business> in this report.


Navigating regulatory and political uncertainty and risk

Increasing pressure from host governments and communities on mining companies to overhaul local procurement processes and systems remains a key challenge to the industry. We are committed to implementing our localisation policies and strategies.