This document, dated 19 March 2013, describes many of the risks that could affect AngloGold Ashanti. There may however be additional risks unknown to AngloGold Ashanti and other risks, currently believed to be immaterial, that could turn out to be material. Additional risks may arise or become material subsequent to the date of this document. These risks, either individually or simultaneously, could significantly affect the group’s business, financial results and the price of its securities.
Risks related to AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition as a result of factors that impact the gold mining industry generally.
Commodity market price fluctuations could adversely affect the profitability of operations.
AngloGold Ashanti’s revenues are primarily derived from the sale of gold and, to a lesser extent, uranium, silver and sulphuric acid. The company’s current policy is to sell its products at prevailing market prices and not to enter into price hedging arrangements. The market prices for these commodities fluctuate widely. These fluctuations are caused by numerous factors beyond the company’s control. For example, the market price of gold may change for a variety of reasons, including:
- speculative positions taken by investors or traders in gold;
- monetary policies announced or implemented by central banks, including the US Federal Reserve;
- changes in the demand for gold as an investment or as a result of leasing arrangements;
- changes in the demand for gold used in jewellery and for other industrial uses, including as a result of prevailing economic conditions;
- changes in the supply of gold from production, divestment, scrap and hedging;
- financial market expectations regarding the rate of inflation;
- the strength of the US dollar (the currency in which the gold price trades internationally) relative to other currencies;
- changes in interest rates;
- actual or anticipated sales or purchases of gold by central banks and the International Monetary Fund;
- gold hedging and de-hedging by gold producers;
- global or regional political or economic events; and
- the cost of gold production in major gold producing countries.
The market price of gold has been and continues to be significantly volatile. During 2012, the gold price traded from a low of $1,540/oz to a high of $1,790/oz. On 19 March 2013, the closing price of gold was $1,613/oz. The price of gold is often subject to sharp, short-term changes as a result of speculative activities; for example, in early March 2012, the price of gold dropped by almost $100/oz in one day. While the overall supply of and demand for gold can affect its market price, the considerable size of historical mined (i.e., above ground) stocks of the metal means that these factors typically do not affect the gold price in the same manner or degree as for other commodities. In addition, the shift in demand from physical gold to investment and speculative demand may exacerbate the volatility of the gold price.
During 2012, there appeared to develop a relationship between the central banks and the price of gold with the price falling at the prospect of the end of quantitative easing in some of the main economies.
A sustained period of significant gold price volatility may adversely affect the company’s ability to evaluate the feasibility of undertaking new capital projects, or the continuity of existing operations, or to make other long-term strategic decisions. The use of lower gold prices in reserve calculations and life-of-mine plans could result in material write-downs of the company’s investment in mining properties and increased amortisation, reclamation and closure charges.
The spot price of uranium has been volatile in past years. During 2012, the price varied between a low of approximately $41/lb and a high of $53/lb. On 19 March 2013, the spot price of uranium was $42/lb. Uranium prices can be affected by several factors, including demand for nuclear reactors, uranium production shortfalls and restocking by utilities. Events like those surrounding the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in Japan in 2011 can also have a material impact on the price of and demand for uranium.
The price of silver has also experienced significant fluctuations. From a low of $26/oz in January 2012, the price rose steadily to reach a high of $37/oz in February 2012. By December 2012, the price had dropped to approximately $30/oz. Factors affecting the price of silver include investor demand, physical demand for silver bars, industrial and retail off-take, and silver coin minting. On 19 March 2013, the price of silver was $29/oz.
If revenue from sales of gold, uranium, silver or sulphuric acid falls below their respective cost of production for an extended period, AngloGold Ashanti may experience losses or be forced to change its dividend payment policies and curtail or suspend some or all of its exploration capital projects and existing operations. Declining commodities prices may also force a reassessment of the feasibility of a particular project or projects, which could cause substantial delays or interrupt operations until the reassessment can be completed.
Foreign exchange fluctuations could have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
Gold is principally a US dollar-priced commodity and most of the company’s revenues are realised in, or linked to, US dollars while production costs are largely incurred in the local currency where the relevant operation is located. Given the company’s global operations and local foreign exchange regulations, some of its funds are held in local currencies, such as the South African rand, Ghanaian cedi, Brazilian real, Argentinean peso and the Australian dollar. The weakening of the US dollar against these local currencies, without a corresponding increase in the dollar price of gold against these local currencies, results in higher production costs in dollar terms.
Exchange rate movements may have a material impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s operating results. For example, the company estimates that a 1% strengthening of any of the South African rand, Brazilian real, the Argentinean peso or the Australian dollar against the US dollar will, other factors remaining equal, result in an increase in total cash costs under IFRS of approximately $5/oz or approximately 1% of the company’s total cash costs.
The profitability of operations and the cash flows generated by these operations are significantly affected by fluctuations in input production prices, many of which are linked to the prices of oil and steel.
Fuel, energy and consumables, including diesel, heavy fuel oil, chemical reagents, explosives, tyres, steel and mining equipment consumed in mining operations form a relatively large part of the operating costs and capital expenditure of any mining company.
AngloGold Ashanti has no influence over the cost of these consumables, many of which are linked to some degree to the price of oil and steel.
The price of oil has recently been volatile, fluctuating between $88.40 and $130.57/bbl of Brent crude in 2012. As of 19 March 2013, the price of oil was at $108.58 per barrel of Brent Crude. AngloGold Ashanti estimates that for each US dollar per barrel rise in the oil price, other factors remaining equal, the total cash costs under IFRS of all its operations increases by approximately $0.90 per ounce. The cash costs of certain of the company’s mines, particularly Yatela, Sadiola, Siguiri, Geita, Navachab, Morila, and Cripple Creek & Victor, are most sensitive to changes in the price of oil.
Furthermore, the price of steel has also been volatile. Steel is used in the manufacture of most forms of fixed and mobile mining equipment, which is a relatively large contributor to the operating costs and capital expenditure of a mine. For example, the price of flat hot rolled coil (North American Domestic FOB) steel traded between $590/t and $733/t in 2012. On 19 March 2013, the price of flat hot rolled coil (North American Domestic FOB) was $609/t.
Fluctuations in oil and steel prices have a significant impact on operating costs and capital expenditure estimates and, in the absence of other economic fluctuations, could result in significant changes in the total expenditure estimates for new mining projects or render certain projects non-viable.
Energy cost increases and power fluctuations and stoppages could adversely impact the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
Increasing global demand for energy, concerns about nuclear power, and the limited growth of new supply are impacting the price and supply of energy. The transition of emerging markets to higher energy consumption, carbon taxation as well as unrest and potential conflict in the Middle East, among other factors, could result in increased demand or constrained supply and sharply escalating oil and energy prices.
AngloGold Ashanti’s mining operations are substantially dependent upon electrical power generated by local utilities or by power plants situated at some of its operations. The unreliability of these local sources of power can have a material effect on the company’s operations, as large amounts of power are required for exploration, development, extraction, processing and other mining activities on the company’s properties.
In South Africa, the company’s operations are dependent on electricity supplied by one state-owned power generation company, Eskom. Electricity is used for most business and safety-critical operations that include cooling, hoisting and dewatering. Loss of power can therefore impact production, employee safety and prolonged outages could lead to flooding of workings and ore sterilisation. In 2008, Eskom and the South African government declared a national emergency and warned that they could no longer guarantee the availability of electricity due to a national supply shortage blamed on coal supply shortages and unplanned generation-set outages as a result of maintenance backlog and asset age. The entire country went into a programme of rolling blackouts and AngloGold Ashanti and other mining companies operating in South Africa were forced in late January until mid-March of 2008 to temporarily suspend mining operations at their mines. In addition, lightning damage to power stations can result in power interruptions at our operations. In this regard, AngloGold Ashanti’s two main operational sites in the West Wits region in South Africa had all main power interrupted between 13 March 2013 and 15 March 2013 after a fire caused by lightning damaged a transformer at a main regional substation. The power supply to AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations may be curtailed or interrupted again in the future. A warning of the “very high” risk of blackouts was re-issued at the start of 2011 and again in 2012. While a national energy conservation programme is in place, Eskom cannot guarantee that there will be no power interruptions and is again facing very tight supply reserve margins in 2013, which we expect to continue at least until the new coal fired Medupi Power Station starts to come on line in early 2014.
Eskom and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) recognise the need to increase electricity supply capacity and a series of tariff increases and proposals have been enacted to assist in the funding of this expansion. In 2010, NERSA approved an annual increase of 24.8% for 2010, 25.8% for 2011, 25.9% for 2012, and 16.0% for 2013. The actual increase implemented for 2012 was lowered to 16.09% after government intervention, but there can be no assurance as to the existence or nature of any government intervention in the future. In February 2013, NERSA announced that Eskom would be allowed to increase electricity tarriffs at an average yearly rate of 8% between 2013 and 2018. This increase is half the 16% sought by the utility in its application. As energy represents a large proportion of the company’s operating costs in South Africa, these increases have had, and any future increases will have, a materially adverse impact on the cash costs of its South African operations.
The company has also identified a risk of energy shortages in Argentina and the DRC. Furthermore, all of the company’s mining operations in Ghana depend on hydroelectric power supplied by the state-controlled Volta River Authority (VRA), which is supplemented by thermal power from the Takoradi plant and a smaller unit at Tema. During periods of below average inflows from the Volta reservoir, electricity supplies from the Akosombo Dam, the VRA’s primary generation source, may be curtailed as occurred in 1998, 2006 and the first half of 2007. During periods of limited electricity availability, the grid is subject to disturbances and voltage fluctuations which can damage equipment. Recent disruptions in natural gas supply from Nigeria, via the West Africa Gas Pipeline, has led to some reduction in thermal generation capacity and the use of more expensive light crude oil which is putting upward pressure on power tariffs. In the past, the VRA has obtained power from neighboring Côte d’Ivoire, which has intermittently experienced political instability and civil unrest. AngloGold Ashanti negotiates rates directly with the VRA and the VRA may not agree to a satisfactory rate during future rounds of negotiations.
The company’s mining operations in Guinea, Tanzania and Mali are dependent on power supplied by outside contractors and supplies of fuel are delivered by road. Power supplies have been disrupted in the past, resulting in production losses due to equipment failure.
Increased energy prices could negatively impact operating costs and cash flow of AngloGold Ashanti’s operations.
Global economic conditions could adversely affect the profitability of operations.
AngloGold Ashanti’s operations and performance depend significantly on worldwide economic conditions. The global financial markets have experienced considerable volatility from uncertainty surrounding the level and sustainability of the sovereign debt of various countries. Concerns remain regarding the sustainability of the European Monetary Union and its common currency, the euro, in their current form, as well as the negative impacts of the recent downgrade of the sovereign credit rating of the Republic of South Africa. These conditions and other disruptions to international credit markets and financial systems have caused a loss of investor confidence and resulted in widening credit spreads, a lack of price transparency, increased credit losses and tighter credit conditions. Despite the aggressive measures taken by governments and central banks so far, economic recovery has been extremely slow. A significant risk remains that these measures may not prevent the global economy from falling back into an even deeper and longer lasting recession or even a depression.
A global economic downturn and recession may have follow-on effects on AngloGold Ashanti’s business that include inflationary cost pressures and commodity market fluctuations.
Other effects could, for example, include:
- the insolvency of key suppliers or contractors which could result in contractual breaches and in a supply chain breakdown;
- the insolvency of one or more joint venture partners which could result in contractual breaches and disruptions at the operations of the company’s joint ventures;
- changes in other income and expense which could vary materially from expectations, depending on gains or losses realised on the sale or exchange of financial instruments, and impairment charges that may be incurred with respect to investments;
- AngloGold Ashanti’s defined benefit pension fund may not achieve expected returns on its investments, which could require the company to make substantial cash payments to fund any resulting deficits;
- a reduction in the availability of credit which may make it more difficult for the company to obtain financing for its operations and capital expenditures or make that financing more costly; and
- exposure to the liquidity and insolvency risks of the company’s lenders and customers;
any of which could negatively affect AngloGold Ashanti’s financial results.
Inflation may have a material adverse effect on results of operations.
Many of AngloGold Ashanti’s operations are located in countries that have experienced high rates of inflation during certain periods. It is possible that significantly higher future inflation in the countries in which the company operates may result in an increase in operational costs in local currencies (without a concurrent devaluation of the local currency of operations against the dollar or an increase in the dollar price of gold). This could have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition. Significantly higher and sustained inflation, with a consequent increase in operational costs, could result in the rationalisation of higher cost mines or projects.
Mining companies face many risks related to the development of mining projects that may adversely affect the company’s results of operations and profitability.
The profitability of mining companies depends partly on the actual costs of developing and operating mines, which may differ significantly from estimates determined at the time the relevant project was approved following completion of its feasibility study. Development of mining projects may also be subject to unexpected problems and delays that could increase the development and operating costs of the relevant project.
AngloGold Ashanti’s decision to develop a mineral property is typically based on the results of a feasibility study. Feasibility studies estimate the expected or anticipated economic returns from the project. These estimates are based on assumptions regarding:
- future prices of gold, uranium, silver and other metals;
- future currency exchange rates;
- tonnage, grades and metallurgical characteristics of ore to be mined and processed;
- anticipated recovery rates of gold, uranium, silver and other metals extracted from the ore;
- anticipated capital expenditure and cash operating costs; and
- required return on investment.
Actual cash operating costs, production and economic returns may differ significantly from those anticipated by such studies and estimates. Operating costs and capital expenditure are to a significant extent driven by the cost of commodity inputs consumed in mining, including fuel, chemical reagents, explosives, tyres and steel, and also by credits from by-products, such as silver and uranium. They could also fluctuate considerably as a result of changes in the prices of mining equipment used in the construction and operation of mining projects.
There are a number of uncertainties inherent in the development and construction of a new mine or the extension of an existing mine. In addition to those discussed above, these uncertainties include the:
- timing and cost of construction of mining and processing facilities, which can be considerable;
- availability and cost of mining and processing equipment;
- availability and cost of skilled labour, power, water and transportation;
- availability and cost of appropriate smelting and refining arrangements;
- applicable requirements and time needed to obtain the necessary environmental and other governmental permits; and
- availability of funds to finance construction and development activities.
The remote location of many mining properties, permitting requirements and/or delays, third-party legal challenges to individual mining projects and broader social or political opposition to mining may increase the cost, timing and complexity of mine development and construction. New mining operations could experience unexpected problems and delays during the development, construction, commissioning and commencement of production. AngloGold Ashanti may prove unable to successfully develop the La Colosa and Gramalote projects as well as other potential exploration sites in Colombia due to difficulties that could arise in relation to, for example, social and community opposition, litigation, ore body grades, definition of adequate reserves and resources, and the time taken to prove project feasibility that could result in the expiry of permits. For example, on 11 March 2013, Cortolima, a regional environmental authority in Colombia, issued an injunction against AngloGold Ashanti’s Colombian subsidiary, alleging that the subsidiary was operating without proper permits and was engaging in activity that was harmful to the environment. Furthermore at around the same period in time, access to an AngloGold Ashanti drilling site was blockaded by residents of a nearby community.
Accordingly, AngloGold Ashanti’s future development activities may not result in the expansion or replacement of current production, or one or more new production sites or facilities may be less profitable than anticipated or may be loss-making. The company’s operating results and financial condition are directly related to the success of its project developments. A failure in the company’s ability to develop and operate mining projects in accordance with, or in excess of, expectations could negatively impact its results of operations, as well as its financial condition and prospects.
Mining companies face uncertainty and risks in exploration, feasibility studies and other project evaluation activities.
AngloGold Ashanti must continually replace Ore Reserve depleted by mining and production to maintain or increase production levels in the long term. This is undertaken by exploration activities that are speculative in nature. The ability of the company to sustain or increase its present levels of gold production depends in part on the success of its projects and it may be unable to sustain or increase such levels. For example, in South Africa, the company experienced declining production rates (1.212Moz of gold in 2012, compared with 1.623Moz of gold in 2011 and 1.785Moz in 2010), principally due to continued safety and associated stoppages, mining flexibility constraints and overall falls in grades. The significant decrease in 2012 was also attributable in part to the industrial strike action at the company’s South African mines, which resulted in the loss of production of 235,000oz of gold.
Feasibility studies and other project evaluation activities necessary to determine the current or future viability of a mining operation are often unproductive. Such activities often require substantial expenditure on exploration drilling to establish the presence, extent and grade (metal content) of mineralised material. AngloGold Ashanti undertakes feasibility studies to estimate the technical and economic viability of mining projects and to determine appropriate mining methods and metallurgical recovery processes. These activities are undertaken to estimate the Ore Reserve.
Once mineralisation is discovered, it may take several years to determine whether an adequate Ore Reserve exists, during which time the economic feasibility of the project may change due to fluctuations in factors that affect both revenue and costs, including:
- future prices of metals and other commodities;
- future foreign currency exchange rates;
- the required return on investment as based on the cost and availability of capital; and
- applicable regulatory requirements, including environmental, health and safety matters.
Feasibility studies also include activities to estimate the anticipated:
- tonnages, grades and metallurgical characteristics of the ore to be mined and processed;
- recovery rates of gold, uranium and other metals from the ore; and
- capital expenditure and cash operating costs.
These estimates depend on assumptions made on available data. Ore Reserve estimates are not precise calculations and depend on the interpretation of limited information on the location, shape and continuity of the mineral occurrence and on available sampling results. Further exploration and feasibility studies can result in new data becoming available that may change previous Ore Reserve estimates and impact the technical and economic viability of production from the project. Changes in the forecast prices of commodities, exchange rates, production costs or recovery rates may change the economic status of reserves resulting in revisions to previous Ore Reserve estimates. These revisions could impact depreciation and amortisation rates, asset-carrying amounts, provisions for closedown, restoration and environmental rehabilitation costs. AngloGold Ashanti undertakes annual revisions to its Ore Reserve estimates based upon actual exploration and production results, depletion, new information on geology, model revisions and fluctuations in production, economic assumptions and operating and other costs. These factors may result in reductions in Ore Reserve estimates, which could adversely affect life-of-mine plans and consequently the total value of the company’s mining asset base. Ore Reserve restatements could negatively affect the company’s results of operations, as well as its financial condition and prospects.
The increased overall demand for gold and other commodities, combined with a declining rate of discovery of new gold Ore Reserve in recent years, has resulted in the accelerated depletion of the existing Ore Reserve across the global gold sector. AngloGold Ashanti therefore faces intense competition for the acquisition of attractive mining properties. From time to time, the company evaluates the acquisition of an Ore Reserve, development properties or operating mines, either as standalone assets or as part of companies. AngloGold Ashanti’s decision to acquire these properties has been based on a variety of factors including historical operating results, estimates and assumptions regarding the extent of the Ore Reserve, cash and other operating costs, gold prices, projected economic returns and evaluations of existing or potential liabilities associated with the relevant property and its operations and how these factors may change in future. Other than historical operating results, these factors are uncertain and could have an impact on revenue, cash and other operating costs, as well as the process used to estimate the Ore Reserve.
As a result of these uncertainties, exploration and acquisitions by the company may not result in the expansion or replacement of current production or the maintenance of its existing Ore Reserve net of production or an increase in Ore Reserve. AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition are directly related to the success of its exploration and acquisition efforts and ability to replace or increase the existing Ore Reserve. If the company is not able to maintain or increase its Ore Reserve, its results of operations as well as its financial condition and prospects could be adversely affected.
Mining companies face many risks related to their operations that may adversely impact cash flows and overall profitability.
Gold mining is susceptible to events that may adversely impact a mining company’s ability to produce gold and meet production and cost targets. These events include, but are not limited to:
- environmental, as well as health and safety incidents during production or transportation resulting in injury, loss of life, or damage to equipment;
- ground and surface water pollution;
- social or community disputes or interventions;
- security incidents;
- surface or underground fires or explosions;
- falls from heights and accidents relating to mobile machinery, including shaft conveyances and elevators, drilling blasting and mining operations;
- labour force disputes and disruptions;
- loss of information integrity or data;
- activities of illegal or artisanal miners;
- shortages in material and equipment;
- mechanical failure or breakdowns and ageing infrastructure;
- failure of unproven or evolving technologies;
- energy and electrical power supply interruptions or rationing;
- unusual or unexpected geological formations, ground conditions, including lack of mineable face length, and ore-pass blockages;
- water ingress and flooding;
- process water shortages;
- metallurgical conditions and gold recovery;
- unexpected decline of ore grade;
- unanticipated increases in gold lock-up and inventory levels at heap-leach operations;
- fall-of-ground accidents in underground operations;
- cave-ins, sinkholes, subsidence, rock falls, rock bursts, or landslides;
- failure of mining pit slopes, heap-leach facilities, water or solution dams, waste stockpiles and tailings dam walls;
- legal and regulatory restrictions and changes to such restrictions;
- safety-related stoppages;
- gold bullion theft;
- corruption, fraud and theft;
- allegations of human rights abuses;
- seismic activity; and
- other natural phenomena, such as floods, droughts or weather conditions, potentially exacerbated by climate change.
Seismic activity is of particular concern in underground mining operations, particularly in South Africa due to the extent and extreme depth of mining, and also in Australia and Brazil due to the depth of mining and residual tectonic stresses. Despite modifications to mine layouts and support technology, as well as other technological improvements employed with a view to minimising the incidence and impact of seismic activity, seismic events have caused death and injury to employees and contractors and may do so again in future, and have in the past and may again result in safety-related stoppages.
Seismic activity may also cause the loss of mining equipment, damage to or destruction of mineral properties or production facilities, monetary losses, environmental damage and potential legal liabilities. As a result, these events may have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition. For example, in early 2011, mining of the Ventersdorp Contact Reef shaft pillar at Tau Tona was suspended following a significant seismic event. New equipment had to be purchased and the shutdown contributed to the decline in the operational output of the mine as compared to the previous year.
In the past, floods have also disrupted the operations of some of the company’s mines. For example, unprecedented heavy rains in February and March 2011 in Australia flooded the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine and forced a temporary shutdown of operations. The flood event impacted underground production for approximately four months and open pit production for approximately six months. Despite the shutdown, full costs were incurred as the mining contractors worked on remedial activities to repair damage and rehabilitate flooded areas. The considerable remedial work required adversely impacted cash costs per ounce and the impact of the flood event and the pit wall failure together significantly reduced planned production at the plant.
Mining companies’ operations are vulnerable to infrastructure constraints.
Mining, processing, development and exploration activities depend on adequate infrastructure. Reliable rail, ports, roads, bridges, power sources, power transmission facilities and water supply are critical to the company’s business operations and affect capital and operating costs. These infrastructure and services are often provided by third parties whose operational activities are outside the control of the company.
Interferences in the maintenance or provision of infrastructure, including unusual weather phenomena, sabotage and social unrest, could impede the company’s ability to deliver its products on time and adversely affect AngloGold Ashanti’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Establishing infrastructure for the company’s development projects requires significant resources, identification of adequate sources of raw materials and supplies, and necessary co-operation from national and regional governments, none of which can be assured.
AngloGold Ashanti has operations or potential development projects in countries where government-provided infrastructure may be inadequate and regulatory regimes for access to infrastructure may be uncertain, which could adversely impact the efficient operation and expansion of its business. AngloGold Ashanti may not secure and maintain access to adequate infrastructure in the future, or it may not do so on reasonable terms.
Mining companies face strong competition.
The mining industry is competitive in all of its phases. AngloGold Ashanti competes with other mining companies and individuals for specialised equipment, components and supplies necessary for exploration and development, for mining claims and leases on exploration properties and for the acquisition of mining assets. These competitors may have greater financial resources, operational experience and technical capabilities than AngloGold Ashanti. Competition may increase AngloGold Ashanti’s cost of acquiring suitable claims, properties and assets.
Mining companies are subject to extensive health and safety laws and regulations.
Gold mining operations are subject to extensive health and safety laws and regulations in every jurisdiction they operate in. These laws and regulations, along with international and industry standards, designed to protect and improve the safety and health of employees, require extensive compliance measures.
From time to time, new or updated health and safety laws, regulations and standards are introduced. Should compliance with these require a material increase in expenditure or material changes or interruptions to operations or production, including as a result of any failure to comply with applicable regulations, the company’s results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected. Furthermore, AngloGold Ashanti is implementing an enhanced safety programme, which could result in additional costs for the company.
In some of the jurisdictions in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, the government enforces compulsory shutdowns of operations to enable investigations into the cause of accidents. Certain of the company’s operations have been temporarily suspended for safety reasons in the past. In South Africa, in particular, so-called ‘Section 54 safety stoppages’ have become a significant issue. In 2011, the Inspector of Mines ordered the shutdown of entire mines in cases of relatively minor violations, which had a material impact on production at these mines. In particular, the Inspector issued Kopanang eleven Section 54 notices during 2011. Each notice resulted in Kopanang suspending operations either fully or partially in order to comply with the inspector’s recommendations on safety.
Safety-related stoppages resulted in the loss of 72,900 and 72,400oz of gold production during 2011 and 2012 respectively in South Africa.
A working group comprised of the inspectorate, the mining industry and organised labour has been formed to address the trend of increasing safety stoppages in South Africa. However, the working group may not agree on how to address this issue and the number of safety stoppages may continue or even increase in the future.
AngloGold Ashanti’s reputation could be damaged by any significant governmental investigation or enforcement of health and safety laws, regulations or standards. Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
Mining companies are increasingly required to operate in a sustainable manner and to provide benefits to affected communities. Failure to comply with these requirements can result in legal suits, additional operational costs, investor divestment, loss of ‘social licence to operate’, and adversely impact mining companies’ financial condition.
As a result of public concern about the perceived ill effects of economic globalisation, businesses in general and large multinational mining corporations such as AngloGold Ashanti in particular face increasing public scrutiny of their activities.
These businesses are under pressure to demonstrate that while they seek a satisfactory return on investment for shareholders, human rights are respected and other social partners, including employees, host communities and more broadly the countries in which they operate, also benefit from their commercial activities. Such pressures tend to be particularly focused on companies whose activities are perceived to have, or have, a high impact on their social and physical environment. The potential consequences of these pressures and the adverse publicity in cases where companies are believed not to be creating sufficient social and economic benefit may result in additional operating costs, reputational damage, active community opposition, allegations of human rights abuses, legal suits and investor withdrawal.
Existing and proposed mining operations are often located at or near existing towns and villages, natural water courses and other infrastructure. As the impacts of dust generation, waste storage, water pollution or shortage, in particular, may be immediate and directly adverse to those communities, poor environmental management practices, or adverse changes in the supply or quality of water can result in community protest, regulatory sanctions or ultimately in the withdrawal of community and government support for company operations. For example, opposition to mining activity in the Tolima province of Colombia, which hosts the La Colosa deposit, has centered on the perception that large-scale mining activity will have a detrimental impact on the region’s river systems.
Mining operations must be designed to minimise their impact on such communities and the environment, either by changing mining plans to avoid such impact, by modifying operations, or by relocating the affected people to an agreed location. Responsive measures may also include the full restoration of livelihoods of those impacted.
In addition, as AngloGold Ashanti has a long history of mining operations in certain regions, issues may arise regarding historical as well as potential future environmental or health impacts in those areas. For example, certain parties, including non-governmental organisations, community groups and institutional investors, have raised concerns about surface and groundwater quality, among other issues, in the area surrounding the company’s Obuasi and Iduapriem mines in Ghana, including potential impacts to local rivers and wells used for water from heavy metals, arsenic and cyanide as well as sediment and mine rock waste.
Disputes with surrounding communities may also affect mining operations, particularly where they result in restrictions of access to supplies and to mining operations. The miners’ access to land may be subject to the rights or asserted rights of various community stakeholders, including indigenous people. Access to land and land use is of critical importance to the company for exploration and mining, as well as for ancillary infrastructure. In some cases, AngloGold Ashanti has had difficulty gaining access to new land because of perceived poor community compensation practices. For example, compensation remains a significant area of concern in Siguiri in Guinea. In 2011, a violent community protest interrupted operations for three days, which contributed to the project’s decline in production as compared to 2010. Delays in projects attributable to a lack of community support can translate directly into a decrease in the value of a project or into an inability to bring the project to production.
The cost of measures and other issues relating to the sustainable development of mining operations could place significant demands on personnel resources, could increase capital and operating costs and could have an adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s reputation, results of operations and financial condition.
Mining companies are subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations.
Mining companies are subject to extensive environmental laws and regulations in the various jurisdictions in which they operate in addition to international standards. These regulations and standards establish limits and conditions on a miner’s ability to conduct its operations and govern, among other things, extraction, use and conservation of water resources; air emissions (including dust control) and water treatment and discharge; regulatory and community reporting; clean-up of contamination; worker safety and community health; and the generation, transportation, storage and disposal of solid and hazardous wastes, such as acids, radioactive materials, and mine tailings.
The cost of compliance with environmental laws and regulations is expected to continue to be significant to AngloGold Ashanti. AngloGold Ashanti could incur fines, penalties and other sanctions, clean-up costs, and third-party claims for personal injury or property damages, suffer reputational damage, or be required to install costly pollution control equipment or to modify or suspend operations, as a result of actual or alleged violations of environmental laws and regulations. In addition, unknown environmental hazards may exist on the company’s properties which may have been caused by previous owners or operators.
For example, in 2010 AngloGold Ashanti’s Obuasi mine in Ghana suspended gold processing operations for five days to implement a revised water management strategy aimed at reducing contaminants contained in its discharge. Brief stoppages after environmental incidents, such as pipeline failures, have occurred more recently at that mine. Furthermore, following a temporary suspension of operations at the Iduapriem mine, the company, with the approval of the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency, constructed an interim tailings storage facility for tailings deposition for a year while a new tailings storage facility was being constructed. The company continues to seek to make improvements in water quality management to reduce the risk of unpermitted and/or accidental discharges and, in addition, it is currently investigating allegations of impacts on water quality in the area of these mines.
Failure to comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations may also result in the suspension or revocation of operating permits. AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to obtain and maintain permits and to successfully operate in particular communities may be adversely impacted by real or perceived effects on the environment or human health and safety associated with AngloGold Ashanti’s or other mining companies’ activities.
For example, in Colombia, various plaintiffs, including associations that represent local communities, have brought legal proceedings against AngloGold Ashanti Colombia S.A. (AGAC) alleging that AGAC has violated applicable environmental laws in connection with the La Colosa project. If the plaintiffs were to prevail, AGAC’s three core concession contracts relating to the La Colosa project may be canceled, AGAC would be required to abandon the La Colosa project and all other existing mining concession contracts and pending proposals for new mining concession contracts of AGAC, though not those of other companies of the AngloGold Ashanti group operating in Colombia. In addition, AGAC would be banned from doing business with the Colombian government for a period of five years.
Environmental laws and regulations are continually changing and are generally becoming more stringent. Changes to AngloGold Ashanti’s environmental compliance obligations or operating practices could adversely affect the company’s rate of production and revenue. Variations in laws and regulations, assumptions made to estimate liabilities, standards or operating procedures, more stringent emission or pollution thresholds or controls, or the occurrence of unanticipated conditions, may require operations to be suspended or permanently closed, and could increase AngloGold Ashanti’s expenses and provisions. These expenses and provisions could adversely affect the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
For example, the use of sodium cyanide in metallurgical processing is under increasing environmental scrutiny and is prohibited for certain jurisdictions. As there are few, if any, effective substitutes in extracting gold from the ore, any ban or material restrictions on the use of sodium cyanide in mining operations in the jurisdictions where AngloGold Ashanti conducts its operations could adversely affect the company’s results of operations and financial condition. In addition, leaks or discharges of sodium cyanide or other hazardous materials could result in liabilities for clean-up or personal injury that may not be covered by insurance.
AngloGold Ashanti’s operations are heavily dependent upon access to substantial volumes of water for use in the mining and extractive processes and typically are subject to water-use permits that govern usage and require, among other things, that mining operations maintain certain water quality upon discharge. Water quality and usage are areas of concern globally, such as with respect to the company’s mining operations in Ghana and South Africa and its exploration projects in Colombia, where there is significant potential environmental and social impact and a high level of stakeholder scrutiny. Any failure by the company to secure access to suitable water supplies, or achieve and maintain compliance with applicable requirements of the permits or licenses, could result in curtailment or halting of production at the affected operation. Incidents of water pollution or shortage can, in extreme cases, lead to community protest and ultimately to the withdrawal of community and government support for our operations. Water scarcity has been identified as a significant risk at AngloGold Ashanti’s US operation in particular. Production at the Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company’s Cresson mine continued to be affected by a severe drought in 2011 and 2012. The lack of water reduced percolation through the heap-leach pad, which curtailed production and productivity.
Mining and mineral processing operations generate waste rock and tailings. The impact of dust generation, breach, leak, or failure of a waste rock or tailings storage facility, can be significant. An incident at AngloGold Ashanti’s operations could lead to, among others, obligations to remediate environmental contamination and claims for property damage and personal injury from adjacent communities. Incidents at other companies’ operations could result in governments tightening regulatory requirements and restricting mining activities.
In addition, mining companies are required by law to close their operations at the end of the mine life and rehabilitate the lands mined. Estimates of total ultimate closure and rehabilitation costs for gold mining operations are significant and based principally on life-of-mine profiles, changing inflation and discount rate assumptions, changing designs of tailing storage facilities and current legal and regulatory requirements that may change materially. Environmental liabilities are accrued when they become known, probable and can be reasonably estimated. Increasingly, regulators are seeking security in the form of cash collateral or bank guarantees in respect of environmental obligations, which could have an adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s discounted closure liability was US$841.1m as at 31 December 2012 compared with US$746.8m as at 31 December 2011. The reasons for the change were new damage from current mining operations, new damage from building of new mining areas, the acquisition of Mine Waste Solutions, changes in estimates for new life of mine calculations and changes in discount rates. Costs associated with rehabilitating land disturbed by mining processes and addressing environmental, health and community issues are estimated and financial provision made based upon current available information. Estimates may, however, be insufficient and further costs may be identified at any stage that may exceed the provisions that AngloGold Ashanti has made. Any underestimated or unidentified rehabilitation costs would reduce earnings and could materially and adversely affect the company’s asset values, earnings and cash flows.
Compliance with emerging climate change regulations could result in significant costs and climate change may present physical risks to a mining company’s operations.
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are emitted directly by AngloGold Ashanti’s operations, as well as by external utilities from which AngloGold Ashanti purchases power. Currently, a number of international and national measures to address or limit GHG emissions, including the Kyoto Protocol, the Copenhagen Accord and the Durban Platform, are in various phases of discussion or implementation in the countries in which the company operates. In particular, the Durban Platform commits all parties to the conference to develop a global mitigation regime which could take effect in 2020, with the specific terms of that legally binding accord, including individual targets, to be finalised by 2015. These, or future, measures could require AngloGold Ashanti to reduce its direct GHG emissions or energy use or to incur significant costs for GHG emissions permits or taxes or have these costs or taxes passed on by electricity utilities which supply the company’s operations. AngloGold Ashanti also could incur significant costs associated with capital equipment, GHG monitoring and reporting and other obligations to comply with applicable requirements.
For example, on 1 July 2012, the Australian Government introduced a carbon tax on GHG emissions. It also plans to implement an emissions trading scheme beginning in July 2015. Other countries, including South Africa, Brazil and the United States, have passed or are considering GHG trading or tax schemes, and/or other regulation of GHG emissions, although the precise impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s operations cannot yet be determined.
In addition, AngloGold Ashanti’s operations could be exposed to a number of physical risks from climate change, such as changes in rainfall rates, rising sea levels, reduced water availability, higher temperatures and extreme weather events. Events or conditions such as flooding or inadequate water supplies could disrupt mining and transport operations, mineral processing and rehabilitation efforts, create resource shortages or damage the company’s property or equipment and increase health and safety risks on site. Such events or conditions could have other adverse effects on the company’s workforce and on the communities around its mines, such as an increased risk of food insecurity, water scarcity and prevalence of disease.
Compliance with ‘conflict materials’ and ‘responsible gold’ legislation and standards could result in significant costs.
There are ever more stringent standards relating to ‘conflict minerals’ and ‘responsible’ gold that include the: US Dodd- Frank Act; World Gold Council Conflict Free Gold Standard; Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Supply Chain of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas; and London Bullion Market Association Responsible Gold Guidance.
Any such legislation and standards may result in significant costs to ensure and demonstrate compliance, and difficulties in the sale of gold emanating from certain areas. The complexities of the gold supply chain, especially as they relate to ‘scrap’ or recycled gold, and the fragmented and often unregulated supply of artisanal and small-scale mined gold are such that there may be significant uncertainties at each stage in the chain as to the provenance of the gold, and as a result of uncertainties in the process, the costs of due diligence and audit, or the reputational risks of defining their product or a constituent part as containing a ‘conflict mineral’ would be too burdensome for the company’s customers. Accordingly, manufacturers may decide to switch supply sources or to substitute gold with other minerals not covered by the initiatives. This could have a material negative impact on the gold industry, including on AngloGold Ashanti’s financial results.
Mining operations and projects are vulnerable to supply chain disruption with the result that operations and development projects could be adversely affected by shortages of, as well as the lead times to deliver, strategic spares, critical consumables, mining equipment or metallurgical plant.
AngloGold Ashanti’s operations and development projects could be adversely affected by both shortages and long lead times to deliver strategic spares, critical consumables, mining equipment and metallurgical plant. Import restrictions, such as those introduced by the Argentine government in 2011, can also delay the delivery of parts and equipment. In the past, the company and other gold mining companies experienced shortages in critical consumables, particularly as production capacity in the global mining industry expanded in response to increased demand for commodities. AngloGold Ashanti has also experienced increased delivery times for these items. Shortages have resulted in unanticipated price increases and production delays and shortfalls, resulting in a rise in both operating costs and in the capital expenditure necessary to maintain and develop mining operations.
Individually, AngloGold Ashanti and other gold mining companies have limited influence over manufacturers and suppliers of these items. In certain cases there are a limited number of suppliers for certain strategic spares, critical consumables, mining equipment or metallurgical plant who command superior bargaining power relative to the company. The company could at times face limited supply or increased lead time in the delivery of such items. For example, during 2012, supply of caustic soda was delayed in the Continental Africa Region. In addition, the unreliability of oxygen and lime supply similarly affected production at the Vaal River and West Wits surface operations in South Africa throughout 2011 and poor availability of drill rigs, heavy machinery and fleet equipment hampered underground drilling and overall operational performance at the Serra Grande mine in Brazil in 2011.
The company’s procurement policy is to source mining and processing equipment and consumables from suppliers that meet its corporate values and ethical standards although risk remains around the management of ethical supply chains. In certain locations, where a limited number of suppliers meet these standards, additional strain is placed on the supply chain, thereby increasing the cost of supply and delivery times.
Furthermore, supply chains and rates can be impacted by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, extreme weather patterns and climate change, as well as other phenomena that include unrest, strikes, theft and fires. For example, a three-week transport strike delayed the supply of consumables in South Africa. Potential supply chain disruption in Mali, as a result of the coup d’état and subsequent state of emergency, has been avoided to date by well managed consumable stock holding. Potential gold doré export disruptions at Geita, the result of an attempted gold heist, and in Mali, following the closure of Bamako International Airport, were minimised with the introduction of alternative transportation arrangements. In February 2013, a fire destroyed the heavy mining equipment stock of spares and components at the Geita gold mine. If AngloGold Ashanti experiences shortages, or increased lead times in the delivery of strategic spares, critical consumables, mining equipment or processing plant, the company might have to suspend some of its operations and its results of operations and financial condition could be adversely impacted.
Diversity in interpretation and application of accounting literature in the mining industry may impact reported financial results.
The mining industry has limited industry-specific accounting literature. As a result, there is diverse interpretation and application of accounting literature on mining specific issues. AngloGold Ashanti, for example, capitalises drilling and costs related to defining and delineating a residual mineral deposit that has not been classified as a ‘Proven and Probable Reserve’ at a development project or production stage mine. Some companies, however, expense such costs.
As and when this diverse interpretation and application is addressed, the company’s reported results could be adversely impacted should the adopted interpretation differ from the position it currently follows.
Failure to comply with laws, regulations, standards, contractual obligations whether following a breach or breaches in governance processes or fraud, bribery and corruption may lead to regulatory penalties, loss of licences or permits, and loss of reputation.
Since AngloGold Ashanti operates globally in multiple jurisdictions and with numerous and complex frameworks, its governance and compliance processes may not prevent potential breaches of law, accounting principles or other governance practices.
AngloGold Ashanti’s Code of Business Principles and Ethics, among other policies, standards and guidance, and training thereon may not prevent instances of unethical or unlawful behaviour, including bribery or corruption, nor guarantee compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, and breaches may not be detected by management.
Sanctions for failure by the company or others acting on its behalf to comply with these laws, regulations, standards and contractual obligations could include fines, penalties, imprisonment of officers, litigation, and loss of operating licences or permits, suspensions of operations, and may damage the company’s reputation. Such sanctions could have a material adverse impact on the company’s financial condition and results of operations.
Breaches in information technology security and governance process may adversely impact business activities.
AngloGold Ashanti maintains global information technology and communication networks and applications to support its business activities. Information technology security processes may not prevent future malicious actions, denial-of-service attacks, or fraud, resulting in corruption of operating systems, theft of commercially sensitive data, misappropriation of funds and business and operational disruption. Material system breaches and failures could result in significant interruptions that could in turn affect AngloGold Ashanti’s operating results and reputation.
Risks related to AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition as a result of factors specific to the company and its operations
AngloGold Ashanti removed the last of its gold hedging instruments and long-term sales contracts exposing the company to potential gains from subsequent commodity price increases but exposes it entirely to subsequent commodity price decreases.
AngloGold Ashanti removed the last of its gold hedging instruments in October 2010 to provide greater participation in a rising gold price environment. As a result, AngloGold Ashanti no longer has any protection against declines in the market price of gold.
A sustained decline in the price of gold could adversely impact the company’s operating results and its financial condition.
Any downgrade of credit ratings assigned to AngloGold Ashanti’s debt securities could increase future interest costs and adversely affect the availability of new financing.
An actual or expected negative development of AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations or cash flows, country risk, or an increase in net debt position could result in the deterioration of the company’s credit ratings. AngloGold Ashanti’s ratings are influenced by the location of its domicile and its operations. Following the downgrade of South Africa’s sovereign debt rating as a result of strikes, social tension and policy uncertainty in South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti was placed on “credit watch negative” by Standard & Poor’s on 17 October 2012. On 10 December 2012, Standard & Poor’s affirmed the investment grade rating of the company’s publicly traded debt, but warned that it could lower the rating in the future.
Any such downgrade by ratings agencies could increase the cost of capital, reduce the investor base and negatively and materially affect AngloGold Ashanti’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
Labour disruptions could have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti employees in South Africa, Ghana, Guinea and Argentina, are highly unionised. Trade unions, therefore, have a significant impact on the company’s labour relations, as well as on social and political reforms, most notably in South Africa. There is a risk that strikes or other types of conflict with unions or employees may occur at any of the company’s operations, particularly where the labour force is unionised or there is inter-union rivalry. Labour disruptions may be used to advocate labour, political or social goals in the future. For example, labour disruptions may occur in sympathy with strikes or labour unrest in other sectors of the economy and for political goals. Labour unrest in South Africa can also be fuelled by migrant labour conditions and mine worker debt levels. Furthermore, such labour disruptions may themselves affect or be perceived to affect local political and social stability. Acts or vandalism affecting mines and mine equipment are possible during periods of labour unrest.
For example, following a wave of labour unrest and unprotected strike action that took place throughout the South African mining, transport and agricultural sectors since early August 2012, workers from AngloGold Ashanti’s Kopanang mine, three West Wits mines and the Vaal River region’s other operations engaged in unprotected strikes in September 2012. More than 100,000 miners were involved in the strikes across the mining sector during the last four months of 2012. Workers at AngloGold Ashanti mines in South Africa have also staged sit-ins which prompted the company to suspend operations at some of its mines. These work stoppages pose significant safety risks and operating challenges. The protracted period of inactivity caused by the strike, coupled by the depth of the affected mines, has complicated the consequent ramping up of production following the termination of the strikes and has resulted in a lengthened ramp-up period to ensure employee safety. The unprotected strike action at the South African operations had an adverse impact on the company’s third quarter results and significantly adversely impacted its fourth quarter results. The company estimates that the unprotected strike action cost approximately 235,000oz in lost production due to the work stoppages and the slow ramp-up to full production.
Lower production and payroll increases resulting from the labour disruptions have adversely impacted the financial performance of all South African operations, threatening viability in some cases and similar disruptions in the future may have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition. For example, subsequent to the 2012 strikes, AngloGold Ashanti, along with its major gold-producing peers in South Africa, increased the entry-level pay of employees; established a new pay category for equipment operators; provided an allowance for rock-drill operators; and increased pay by 2% for most categories of workers. The net impact of the settlement on the payroll cost for AngloGold Ashanti is $16m per annum.
Increased labour costs could have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
Labour costs represent a substantial proportion of the company’s total operating costs and at many operations, including its South African, Ghanaian and Tanzanian operations, constitute the company’s single largest component of operating costs. Failing to obtain any simultaneous increase in productivity, any change to the company’s wage agreements or other factors that could increase labour costs may have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition. In 2012, the cost of salaries and wages increased by 7% over 2011 levels.
In South Africa, the established practice is to negotiate wages and conditions of employment with the unions every two years through the Chamber of Mines of South Africa. South African employment law sets out minimum terms and conditions of employment for employees, which form the benchmark for all employment contracts. As at 31 December 2012, approximately 62% of the company’s workforce, excluding contractors, or approximately 52% of its total workforce was located in South Africa. At present, the mining unions and gold mining companies are in the second year of this two-year wage agreement, with the latest increases (ranging from 8% to 10%) awarded to the workforce in July 2012 and additional improvements to the current pay structure offered to workers on 18 October 2012. Further negotiations on this agreement are expected in 2013, which may result in an increase in labour actions. In addition, any new agreement could result in increased labour costs for the company.
AngloGold Ashanti’s results may be further impaired if it incurs penalties for failing to meet standards set by labour laws regarding workers’ rights or incurs costs complying with new labour laws, rules and regulations. For example, employment law in South Africa imposes monetary penalties for neglecting to report to government authorities on progress made towards achieving employment equity in the workplace. Ghanaian law also contains broad provisions requiring mining companies to recruit and train Ghanaian personnel and to use the services of Ghanaian companies. In Australia, the federal government has recently introduced a new industrial relations system that includes ‘good faith bargaining’ obligations for employers, fewer restrictions on the content of collective agreements and an enhanced role for union officials as bargaining representatives, parties to agreements and participants in dispute resolution. Penalties and compliance costs, as well as increased costs due to laws and regulations less favourable to employers, could have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s mining rights in the countries in which it operates could be altered, suspended or cancelled for a variety of reasons, including breaches in its obligations in respect of its mining rights.
AngloGold Ashanti’s right to own and exploit Mineral Reserves and deposits is governed by the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which the mineral properties are located. Currently, a significant portion of the company’s Mineral Reserves and deposits are located in countries where mining rights could be suspended or canceled should it breach its obligations in respect of the acquisition and exploitation of these rights.
In each of the countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, the formulation or implementation of government policies on certain issues may be unpredictable. This may include changes in laws relating to mineral rights and ownership of mining assets and the right to prospect and mine, and in extreme cases, nationalisation, expropriation or nullification of existing concessions, licenses, permits, agreements and contracts. In May 2012, for example, the Argentine government nationalised the oil company Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales (YPF) by expropriating 51% of the shares from the majority Spanish shareholder.
Any existing and new mining and exploration operations and projects are subject to various national and local laws, policies and regulations governing the ownership and the right to prospect or mine or develop proposed projects. For more details on the risks surrounding ownership of mining assets, see “—Title to AngloGold Ashanti’s properties may be uncertain and subject to challenge” and “-AngloGold Ashanti’s Mineral Reserve, deposits and mining operations are located in countries that face political, economic and security risks that may affect both the terms of its mining concessions, as well as its ability to conduct operations in certain countries”.
Project implementation delays could result in licences not being renewed and the loss of mining rights. Some of AngloGold Ashanti’s mining concessions, authorisations, licences and permits are subject to expiry, limitations on renewal and to various other risks and uncertainties. For example, the company’s license to mine at the Mongbwalu concession in the DRC is up for renewal in 2014, but the company must seek renewal a year in advance of the license’s expiration. The company may not be successful in the renewal process or in retaining the license on the same terms. If the company is unsuccessful in the renewal process, it will need to record an impairment. In October 2012, the DRC announced a proposed overhaul of the DRC’s mining code, which could affect the company’s ability to renew the license or its terms. This overhaul is still in progress.
If AngloGold Ashanti is not able to obtain or maintain necessary permits, authorisations or agreements to prospect or mine or to implement planned projects, or continue its operations, or comply with all laws, regulations or requirements, or do so within time-frames that make such plans and operations economically viable, or if the laws impacting the company’s ownership of its mineral rights, or the right to prospect or mine change materially, or should governments increase their ownership in the mines or nationalise them, AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Title to AngloGold Ashanti’s properties may be uncertain and subject to challenge.
AngloGold Ashanti has operations in several countries where ownership of land is uncertain and where disputes may arise in relation to ownership. Certain of the company’s properties may be subject to the rights or the asserted rights of various community stakeholders, including indigenous people. The presence of those stakeholders may have an impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to develop or operate its mining interests. For example, in Australia, the Native Title Act (1993) provides for the establishment and recognition of native title under certain circumstances. In South Africa, the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (1997) and the Restitution of Land Rights Act (1994) provide for various landholding rights. Such legislation is complex, difficult to predict and outside of the company’s control, and could therefore negatively affect the business results of new or existing projects. Where consultation with stakeholders is statutorily or otherwise mandated, relations may not remain amicable and disputes may lead to reduced access to properties or delays in operations.
Title to the company’s properties, particularly undeveloped ones, may also be defective or subject to challenge. Title insurance generally is not available, and title review does not necessarily preclude third parties from contesting ownership. Where surveys have not been conducted, the precise area and location of the company’s claims may be in doubt. Accordingly, AngloGold Ashanti’s mineral properties may be subject to prior unregistered liens, agreements, transfers or claims, including native land claims, and title may be affected by, among other things, undetected defects.
AngloGold Ashanti may experience unforeseen difficulties, delays or costs in successfully implementing its business strategy and projects, including any cost-cutting initiatives, and any such strategy or project may not result in the anticipated benefits.
The successful implementation of the company’s business strategy and projects depends upon many factors, including those outside its control. For example: the successful management of costs will depend on prevailing market prices for input costs; the ability to grow the business will depend on the successful implementation of the company’s existing and proposed project development initiatives and continued exploration success, as well as on the availability of attractive merger and acquisition opportunities, all of which are subject to the relevant mining and company specific risks as outlined in these risk factors.
AngloGold Ashanti is in the process of implementing initiatives relating to strategic alignment, portfolio review, restructuring and cost-cutting, including in connection with the consolidation of its business activities and assets. Any future contribution of these measures to profitability will be influenced by the actual savings achieved and by the company’s ability to sustain these ongoing efforts. Strategic alignment, restructuring and cost-cutting initiatives may involve various risks, including, for example, labour unrest and operating licence withdrawal. The risk is highest in South Africa, given recent calls for withdrawal of mining licences for ‘mothballed shafts’ and hostile reaction to proposed mining industry retrenchments. In addition, these measures may not be implemented as planned; turn out to be less effective than anticipated; only become effective later than anticipated; or not be effective at all. Any of these outcomes, individually or in combination, may adversely impact the company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s business strategy also includes divesting activities in some business areas and strengthening others, including through mergers and acquisitions. With respect to dispositions, AngloGold Ashanti may not be able to divest some of its activities as planned or to obtain all of the required approvals, and the divestitures that are carried out could have a negative impact on its business, results of operations, financial condition and reputation.
AngloGold Ashanti may also prove unable to deliver on production targets, including in potentially critical areas, such as the Obuasi turnaround plan in Ghana, as well as on the timely, cost-effective and successful execution of key capital projects, including at the Tropicana project in Australia, the Kibali project in the DRC, and with regard to the implementation of the company’s new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. For more details on the risks surrounding the ERP implementation, see the section entitled “The implementation of an integrated ERP system could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.”
Unforeseen difficulties, delays or costs may adversely affect the successful implementation of AngloGold Ashanti’s business strategy and projects, and such strategy and projects may not result in the anticipated benefits.
Any acquisition or acquisitions that AngloGold Ashanti may complete may expose the company to new geographic, political, legal, social, operating, financial and geological risks.
AngloGold Ashanti may pursue the acquisition of producing, development and advanced stage exploration properties and companies. Any such acquisition may change the scale of the company’s business and operations and may expose it to new geographic, geological, political, social, operating, financial, legal, regulatory and contractual risks. For example: there may be a significant change in commodity prices after the company has committed to complete the transaction and established the purchase price or share exchange ratio; a material ore body may prove below expectations; AngloGold Ashanti may have difficulty integrating and assimilating the operations and personnel of any acquired companies, realising anticipated synergies and maximising the financial and strategic position of the combined enterprise, and maintaining uniform standards, policies and controls; the integration may disrupt the company’s ongoing business and its relationships with employees, suppliers and contractors; and the acquisition may divert management’s attention from AngloGold Ashanti’s day-to-day business. Furthermore, the company operates and acquires businesses in different countries, with different regulatory and operating cultures, which may exacerbate the risks described above. In addition, the acquired business may have undetected liabilities which may be significant.
In the event that the company chooses to raise debt capital to finance any acquisition, the company’s leverage will be increased. Should the company choose to use equity as consideration for an acquisition, existing shareholders may suffer dilution. Alternatively, the company may choose to finance any acquisition with its existing resources, which could decrease its ability to fund future capital expenditures.
The company may not be successful in overcoming these risks or any other problems encountered in connection with acquisitions. Failure by AngloGold Ashanti to implement its acquisition strategy or to integrate acquired businesses successfully could have material adverse effects on its growth and business results.
Ageing infrastructure at some of AngloGold Ashanti’s operations could adversely impact its business.
Deep level gold mining shafts are usually designed with a lifespan of 25 to 30 years. Vertical shafts consist of large quantities of infrastructure steelwork for guiding conveyances and accommodating services such as high and low tension electric cables, air and water pipe columns. Rising temperatures in the deeper mining areas can also lead to increased cooling requirements in the form of upgraded and expanded ice plants. Maintaining this infrastructure requires skilled human resources, capital allocation, management and planned maintenance.
Once a shaft has reached the end of its intended lifespan, higher than normal maintenance and care is required. Incidents resulting in production delays, increased costs or industrial accidents may occur. Such incidents may have an adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition. Asset integrity issues relating to ageing infrastructure are of particular concern in South Africa and at the Obuasi mine in Ghana.
Cracks were discovered in the mill feed end in September 2008 and at the discharge end in February 2010 at the Geita gold mine. The Geita gold mine is one of the group’s principal assets and sources of cash flow. After initial repairs, the feed end was replaced during May and June 2011. A decision was subsequently taken to replace the entire mill as a result of shell distortion. After new mill manufacture delays, installation was completed during March 2013. Production throughput in 2011 was 1Mt less than planned, as a result of mill downtime that included feed-end replacement; ore grade was however sufficient to achieve 494,000oz. The Geita gold mine produced approximately 531,000oz in 2012, with production throughput of some 100,000t short of budget.
Some of AngloGold Ashanti’s technologies are unproven and failure could adversely impact costs and production.
AngloGold Ashanti has teamed up with various specialists to engineer new solutions to environmental management, mine design, rock breaking and underground logistics, among others. The company has invested in new technologies, including phyto-technologies to reduce seepage and address soil and groundwater contamination, and in mine support technologies to minimise the impact of seismic activity. The company is also attempting to develop technologies to access the deeper reaches of South African mines.
Some aspects of these technologies are unproven and their eventual operational outcome or viability cannot be assessed with certainty. The costs, productivity and other benefits from these initiatives, and the consequent effects on AngloGold Ashanti’s future earnings and financial condition, may vary from expectations. Failure of the company to realise the anticipated benefits could result in increased costs, an inability to realise production or growth plans, or adversely affect its operational performance.
The level of AngloGold Ashanti’s indebtedness could adversely impact its business.
As at 31 December 2012, AngloGold Ashanti had gross borrowings of approximately $3.0 billion, excluding the mandatory exchangeable notes amounting to $588 million.
AngloGold Ashanti’s indebtedness could have a material adverse effect on its flexibility to conduct business. For example, the company may be required to use a large portion of its cash flow to pay the principal and interest on its debt, which will reduce funds available to finance existing operations, the development of new organic growth opportunities and further acquisitions. In addition, under the terms of the company’s borrowing facilities from its banks, AngloGold Ashanti is obliged to meet certain financial and other covenants. The company’s ability to continue to meet these covenants and to service its debt will depend on its future financial performance which will be affected by its operating performance as well as by financial and other factors, certain of which are beyond the control of the company.
Should the cash flow from operations be insufficient, AngloGold Ashanti could breach its financial and other covenants. Covenant breaches, if interpreted as events of default under one or more debt agreements, could allow lenders to accelerate payment of such debt. Any such acceleration could result in the acceleration of indebtedness under other financial instruments. As a result, the company may be required to refinance all or part of the existing debt, use existing cash balances, issue additional equity or sell assets. AngloGold Ashanti cannot be sure that it will be able to refinance its debt on commercially reasonable terms, if at all. The company’s ability to access the bank, public debt or equity capital markets on an efficient basis may be constrained by dislocation in the credit markets or capital and liquidity constraints in the banking, debt or equity markets at the time of issuance.
Certain factors may affect AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to support the carrying amount of its property, plant and equipment, acquired properties, investments and goodwill on the balance sheet. If the carrying amount of its assets is not recoverable, AngloGold Ashanti may be required to recognise an impairment charge, which could be significant.
AngloGold Ashanti reviews and tests the carrying amount of its assets when events or changes in circumstances suggest that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. The company values individual mining assets at the lowest level for which cash flows are identifiable and independent of cash flows of other mining assets and liabilities.
If there are indications that impairment may have occurred, AngloGold Ashanti prepares estimates of expected future cash flows for each group of assets. Expected future cash flows are inherently uncertain, and could materially change over time. They are significantly affected by reserve and production estimates, together with economic factors such as spot and forward gold prices, discount rates, currency exchange rates, estimates of costs to produce reserves and future capital expenditure. Estimated rehabilitation and closure costs could also materially affect the company’s financial performance and could result in the need to recognise an impairment charge.
If any of these uncertainties occur, either alone or in combination, management could be required to recognise an impairment, which could have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti expects to have significant financing requirements.
AngloGold Ashanti’s existing board-approved development projects and exploration initiatives will require significant funding. These include: Tropicana in Australia; Mponeng Below 120 Project in South Africa; the Mongbwalu and Kibali projects in the DRC; and the mine life extension project (MLE2) at Cripple Creek & Victor in the United States.
Potential future development projects will also require significant funding, if and when approved by the AngloGold Ashanti board of directors. These include the: La Colosa and Gramalote projects in Colombia; Moab Khotsong Zaaiplaatz in South Africa; Iduapriem expansion project in Ghana, Sadiola Deeps project in Mali; Geita underground mining project in Tanzania; Nova Lima Sul project in Brazil; a further mine life extension project (MLE3) at Cripple Creek & Victor in the United States; as well as various other exploration projects and feasibility studies.
AngloGold Ashanti estimates that over the next three years, growth initiatives will require project capital expenditure (excluding stay in business and ore reserve development capital expenditure) of approximately $4.0bn (subject to escalation and based on certain assumptions, including exchange rates). The company’s capital expenditure plans and requirements are subject to a number of risks, contingencies and other factors, some of which are beyond its control, and therefore the actual future capital expenditure and investments may differ significantly from the current planned amounts.
AngloGold Ashanti’s operating cash flow and credit facilities may be insufficient to meet all of these expenditures, depending on the timing and cost of development of these and other projects as well as operating performance and available headroom under its credit facilities. As a result, new sources of capital may be needed to meet the funding requirements of these developments, to fund ongoing business activities and to pay dividends. AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to raise and service significant new sources of capital will be a function of macroeconomic conditions, the condition of the financial markets, future gold prices, the company’s operational performance and operating cash flow and debt position, among other factors. The company’s ability to raise further debt financing in the future and the cost of such financing will depend on, among other factors, its prevailing credit rating, which may be affected by the company’s ability to maintain its outstanding debt and financial ratios at levels acceptable to the credit ratings agencies, its business prospects risks relating to the countries in which it operates or other factors. As a result, in the event of lower gold prices, unanticipated operating or financial challenges, any dislocation in financial markets or new funding limitations, AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to pursue new business opportunities, invest in existing and new projects, fund its ongoing business activities and retire or service outstanding debt and pay dividends, could be significantly constrained, all of which could adversely impact the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti does not have full management control over some of its significant joint venture projects and other interests. If the operators of these projects do not manage these effectively and efficiently, the company’s investment in these projects could be adversely affected and its reputation could be harmed.
AngloGold Ashanti’s joint ventures at Morila in Mali and at Kibali in the DRC are managed by the company’s joint venture partner Randgold Resources Limited (Randgold). In addition, certain of AngloGold Ashanti’s exploration ventures are managed by the relevant joint venture partner. AngloGold Ashanti’s marine gold joint venture with De Beers is managed by an independent company jointly owned by AngloGold Ashanti and De Beers, with a significant part of the technical input subcontracted to De Beers or other marine service providers.
While AngloGold Ashanti provides strategic management and operational advice to its joint venture partners in respect of these projects, the company cannot ensure that these projects are operated in compliance with the standards that AngloGold Ashanti applies in its other operations. If these joint ventures are not operated effectively or efficiently, including as a result of weaknesses in the policies, procedures and controls implemented by the joint venture partners, the company’s investment in the relevant project could be adversely affected. In addition, negative publicity associated with operations that are ineffective or inefficiently operated, particularly relating to any resulting accidents or environmental incidents, could harm the company’s reputation and therefore its prospects and potentially its financial condition. Further, any failure of joint venture partners to meet their obligations to AngloGold Ashanti or to third parties, or any disputes with respect to the parties’ respective rights and obligations, could have a material adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition. In particular, the company and Randgold retain equal representation, with neither party holding a deciding vote on the board of the two companies that have overall management control of the Morila project in Mali and the Kibali project in the DRC, respectively, and all major management decisions for each of these two projects, including approval of the budget, require board approval. If a dispute arises between the company and Randgold with respect to the Kibali or Morila project and the parties are unable to amicably resolve such dispute, it may be difficult for the parties to make strategic decisions relating to the project affected by such dispute, the day-to-day operations and the development of such project may be adversely affected and the company may have to participate in proceedings to resolve the dispute, which could adversely affect the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s joint ventures and other strategic alliances may not be successful.
AngloGold Ashanti’s joint venture partners may have economic or business interests or goals that are not consistent with the company’s or may, as a result of financial or other difficulties, be unable or unwilling to fulfill their obligations under the joint venture or other agreements. Disputes between AngloGold Ashanti and its joint venture partners may lead to legal action, including litigation between AngloGold Ashanti and joint venture partners. Such disputes could adversely affect the operation of the joint venture and may prevent the realisation of the joint venture goals. There is no assurance that the company’s joint venture partners will continue their relationship with the company in the future or that the company will be able to achieve its financial or strategic objectives relating to the joint ventures.
For example, AngloGold Ashanti has a 50:50 strategic alliance with Thani Investments LLC (TI), a company based in Dubai. During 2011, AngloGold Ashanti advanced a loan of $35 million to Thani Ashanti Alliance Limited, the joint entity it owns together with TI. This loan was impaired during 2012. TI guaranteed the loan. AngloGold Ashanti has brought legal action against TI over non-payment of the loan. The resolution to this dispute may affect the overall relationship between TI and the company. The failure of the company’s joint venture partners to fulfil their obligations on their unwillingness to continue these relationships may have an adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s Mineral Reserve, deposits and mining operations are located in countries where political, tax and economic laws and policies may change rapidly and unpredictably and such changes and policies may adversely affect both the terms of its mining concessions, as well as its ability to conduct operations in certain countries.
Any existing and new mining, exploration operations and projects that the company carries out are subject to various national and local laws, policies and regulations governing the ownership, prospecting, development and mining of mineral reserves, taxation and royalties, exchange controls, import and export duties and restrictions, investment approvals, employee and social community relations and other matters.
In most of the countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, there is a focus on resource nationalism with governments seeking to reap greater economic benefit from high commodity prices. This entails the review of mining codes and stability agreements, which were designed under different economic environments, and the formulation or amendment of laws, policies and regulations relating to issues such as mineral rights and asset ownership, royalties, taxation and taxation disputes, ‘windfall’ or ‘super’ taxation, non-recovery of taxation refunds, import and export duties, currency transfers, restrictions on foreign currency holdings and repatriation of earnings. Laws, policies and regulations in such countries are uncertain, changing and generally require progressively higher payments to governments, notably in the form of increased royalties and taxes, mandated beneficiation, export levies and increasing or retaining state or national ownership of resources. Changes in particular to the fiscal terms governing AngloGold Ashanti’s operations may have a material adverse impact on the company’s results of operations or financial condition, as well as discourage future investments in certain jurisdictions, which may have an adverse impact on the company’s ability to access new assets and could potentially reduce future growth opportunities.
For example on 9 September 2011, a new mining code for Guinea was enacted. The new mining code significantly increases the share of state ownership in the mining industry, extending a 15% share of future mining projects to the government, without financial compensation. The government also has the option to purchase up to an additional 20% of each project. However, the new mining code was withdrawn in October 2012 due to unfavourable reception and is yet to be re-issued. The Guinean government also announced its intention to carry out a review of the mining conventions currently in force in Guinea. This mining convention review is currently in progress. The outcome of this review may have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations or financial condition.
In late 2011 and early 2012, the government of Ghana amended its fiscal mining regime, increased its corporate taxation and royalty rates and may impose a windfall profit tax. Furthermore, the government of Ghana has constituted a review committee to review and re-negotiate stability agreements with mining companies. AngloGold Ashanti is currently participating in negotiations with the Ghanaian review committee. The outcome of these negotiations may have a material adverse effect on the company’s results of operations or financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti Limited and other major mining companies are in talks with the Tanzanian government regarding new mining legislation and its impact on existing mining agreements; such talks follow an earlier declaration in July 2012 by the Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals that the mining contracts were under review. The new mining legislation and the outcome of the review of the mining contracts may have a material adverse impact on the company’s results of operations and financial condition. Recently, the Tanzanian Minister of Energy and Minerals unexpectedly increased the royalty rate levied on gold extracted in Tanzania by AngloGold Ashanti’s operations by 1%. Further unanticipated increases in royalty rates in Tanzania or other countries could have a material adverse impact on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
In the DRC, in October 2012 the Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu announced a proposed overhaul of the DRC’s mining code. The proposed laws seek to, among other things, increase the government stake in mining operations to 35% from the existing 5%, double royalties on some minerals, and introduce a 50% levy on certain profits. Should such laws be enacted in the future, these may have a material adverse impact on the company’s results of operations in the DRC.
On 1 July 2012, Australia’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) came into effect after the legislation was passed in March 2012. The MRRT applies only to the bulk commodities of coal and iron ore, and replaced the previously proposed Resource Super Profit Tax (RSPT), which covered all minerals. The Australian federal government did not include gold and uranium in the final MRRT. However, should Australia consider reintroducing the RSPT, or if similar ‘super profit’ taxes were to be introduced and implemented in any other country in which AngloGold Ashanti operates, the company’s results of operations and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.
In addition, some of AngloGold Ashanti’s mineral deposits and mining and exploration operations are located in countries that are experiencing political instability and economic uncertainty. For example, in South Africa, country risk has increased recently in light of the violent strike action, social unrest, high levels of unemployment, poverty and concern that the government may take measures unfavourable to business.
In December 2012, while the ruling African National Congress rejected the concept of wholesale nationalisation, it nevertheless favoured a ‘resource rent’ tax on windfall profits. Political instability and the resulting unstable business environment in which companies operate may discourage future investments in certain jurisdictions, which may have an adverse impact on the company’s ability to access new assets and could potentially reduce future growth opportunities.
AngloGold Ashanti is subject to an uncertain tax environment. Increased taxes are expected in most countries of operation. Changes in tax laws could result in higher tax expense and payments. Furthermore, legislation changes could materially impact AngloGold Ashanti’s tax receivables and liabilities as well as deferred tax assets and deferred tax liabilities. In addition, the uncertain tax environment in some regions could limit AngloGold Ashanti’s ability to enforce its rights. As a global company, AngloGold Ashanti conducts its business in countries subject to complex tax rules, which may be interpreted in different ways. Further interpretations or developments of tax regimes may affect the company’s tax liability, return on investments and business operations. AngloGold Ashanti is regularly examined by tax authorities in the various jurisdictions of operation.
For example, on 15 March 2012, the Mwanza office of the Tanzania Revenue Authority notified Geita Gold Mine Limited (Geita Gold Mine) that it intended to issue additional tax assessments against Geita Gold Mine. In connection with such assessments, the Tanzania Revenue Authority also challenged the validity of the existing mining development agreement (MDA) relating to the Geita Gold Mine, which was entered into with the Tanzanian government in June 1999. AngloGold Ashanti was served with a demand to pay the increased assessments, which it is currently paying under protest while awaiting a discussion with the government. In the event that the MDA is held to be invalid, the tax burden on the company’s Tanzanian operations would increase and the company would have to pay additional taxes for prior periods.
Furthermore, in Guinea, Mali and Tanzania, AngloGold Ashanti is due refunds of input tax and fuel duties which remain outstanding for periods longer than those provided for in the respective statutes.
The countries in which the company operates may also introduce strict exchange controls, impose restrictions to source materials and services locally, or impose other similar restrictions that hinder foreign companies’ operations within such countries. For example, the Argentine government introduced stricter exchange controls and related protracted approval processes, which may limit the company’s ability to repatriate dividends from its Argentine subsidiaries. In October 2011, the Argentina government decreed that mining, oil and energy companies must repatriate export earnings. Additionally, the purchase of US dollars requires authorisation from the Argentine tax agency and the purpose for which the currency will be used must be stated. In May 2012, the Argentine Mining Secretariat issued new regulations requiring mining companies in Argentina to boost their domestic purchases of equipment and services. Mining companies are now required to resort exclusively to locally established suppliers for their export-related shipping and logistics operations. A separate norm requires companies to open an import substitution division which will be in charge of submitting procurement plans to the Mining Secretariat on a quarterly basis. Such requirements are hindering the company’s operations within Argentina and these or similar requirements may continue to do so in the future and may have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
If, in one or more of the countries in which it operates, AngloGold Ashanti were not able to obtain or maintain necessary permits, authorisations or agreements to implement planned projects or continue its operations under conditions or within timeframes that make such plans and operations economically viable, or if the applicable legal, ownership, fiscal (including all royalties and duties), exchange control, employment, environmental and social laws or regimes change materially, or if the governing political authorities change resulting in amendments to such laws and regimes, this could have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s operating results, financial condition, and, in extreme situations, on the viability of an operation.
For example, in South Africa mining rights are linked to meeting various obligations that include the broad-based socio-economic empowerment charter for the mining industry (the Revised Charter). Compliance with the Revised Charter is measured using a designated scorecard relating to equity ownership and management control of mining companies by historically disadvantaged South Africans (HDSAs) by no later than May 2014 and that HDSAs must constitute 40% of all levels of management by 2014. While AngloGold Ashanti believes that it is compliant with ownership targets to be achieved by May 2014, it must make further progress to achieve future targets, including further participation by HDSAs in senior and top management levels, the upgrade of housing and accommodation at the company’s mines, further human resource development, mine community development, sustainable development and growth as well as procurement and enterprise development, certain of which are also included under the Revised Charter’s targets that must also be achieved by May 2014.
The company will incur expenses in giving further effect to the Revised Charter and the scorecard. AngloGold Ashanti may not meet all of the various requirements by the required dates. Additionally, the South African government may decide that the Mining Charter has not gone far enough to achieve its underlying goals and therefore decide to expand the obligations of mining companies thereunder. Should AngloGold Ashanti breach its obligations in complying with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, Revised Charter or any future amendments to the Mining Charter, its mining rights in South Africa could be suspended or canceled by the Minister of Mineral Resources and it may be unable to obtain any new mining rights. Any such suspension or cancellation could have a material adverse effect on Anglo Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s Mineral Reserve, deposits and mining operations are located in countries that face instability and security risks that may adversely affect both the terms of its mining concessions, as well as its ability to conduct operations in certain countries.
Some of AngloGold Ashanti’s mineral deposits and mining and exploration operations are located in countries that are experiencing political instability and economic uncertainty.
Certain of the countries in which AngloGold Ashanti has mineral deposits or mining or exploration operations, including the DRC, Mali, Guinea and Colombia, have in the past experienced, and in certain cases continue to experience, a difficult security environment. In particular, various illegal groups active in regions in which the company is present may pose a credible threat of military repression, terrorism, civil unrest, extortion and kidnapping, which could have an adverse effect on its operations in these and other regions.
For example, Mali continues to experience a difficult security environment since the military coup in March 2012. The situation in Mali remains of heightened concern as a result of the instability in northern Mali.
Eastern DRC also continues to experience tension consistent with the cycles of unrest experienced since the late 2000s. Fighting has caused instability in the area and could expand or intensify.
In 2012, and for the first time in approximately seven years, Anglo Gold Ashanti Colombia’s (AGAC) assets and employees were the targets of direct attacks by hostile actors around the La Colosa project’s area of influence. These and other such attacks could adversely affect the company’s operations in Colombia.
Since 2009, the company has recorded an almost five-fold increase in the instances of injury to security personnel, including members of AngloGold Ashanti’s internal security, private security companies and public security forces in certain jurisdictions. The rise in the number and severity of security incidents has come as a result of both increased illegal and artisanal mining due to a steady migration of people into the areas and an increase in the level of organisation and funding of criminal activity around some of the company’s Continental African operations, spurred on by an escalating gold price. The most significant security challenges have occurred in Tanzania and Ghana in areas where there is endemic poverty and high levels of unemployment. If the security environment surrounding the company’s operations that are most exposed to these challenges does not improve or further deteriorates, employee, third-party and community member injuries and fatalities could also increase. Any such increase could disrupt the company’s operations in certain mines and adversely affect its reputation, results of operation and financial condition.
In some instances, risk assessments categorise threats as serious enough to require resort to public security forces, such as national police or military units on a near-permanent basis. In the event that continued operations in any of the company’s countries of operations compromise the company’s security or business principles, AngloGold Ashanti may withdraw from any such countries on a temporary or permanent basis. This could have a material adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
Furthermore, the company has at times experienced strained relationships with certain of its host communities. AngloGold Ashanti operates in several regions where poverty, unemployment and the lack of access to alternative livelihoods mean that the creation and distribution of economic benefit from mining operations is a significant area of focus for community and government. Conflict with communities has led to community protests and business interruptions, particularly at the Siguiri mine in Guinea during 2010 and 2011. In 2012, there were five recorded community protests at Cerro Vanguardia, Obuasi and Geita.
Illegal and artisanal mining occurs on AngloGold Ashanti’s properties, which can disrupt the company’s business and expose the company to liability.
Illegal and artisanal miners are active on, or adjacent to, some of AngloGold Ashanti’s Continental African and South American properties, which leads at times to interference with the company’s operations and results in conflict situations that present a security threat to property and human life. Artisanal mining is associated with a number of negative impacts, including environmental degradation, flouting of land rights, poor working practices, erosion of civil society, human rights abuse and funding of conflict. The environmental, social, safety and health impacts of artisanal mining are frequently attributed to formal mining activity, and it is often assumed that artisanally-mined gold is channeled through large-scale mining operators, even though artisanal and large-scale miners have distinct supply chains. These misconceptions impact negatively on the reputation of the industry.
The activities of the illegal miners, which include theft and shrinkage, could cause damage to AngloGold Ashanti’s properties, including pollution, underground fires, or personal injury or death, for which AngloGold Ashanti could potentially be held responsible. Illegal mining could result in the depletion of mineral deposits, potentially making the future mining of such deposits uneconomic. The presence of illegal miners could lead to project delays and disputes regarding the development or operation of commercial gold deposits. Illegal mining and theft could also result in lost gold reserves, mine stoppages, and have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations or financial condition.
In 2012, the company recorded an increase in the number and severity of security incidents, due to a steady migration of people into the areas and an increase in the level of organisation and funding of criminal activity around some of the company’s Continental African operations, spurred on by an escalating gold price. The most significant security challenges have occurred in Tanzania and Ghana in areas where there is endemic poverty and high levels of unemployment.
The use of contractors at certain of the company’s operations may expose AngloGold Ashanti to delays or suspensions in mining activities and increases in mining costs.
AngloGold Ashanti uses contractors at certain of its operations to mine and deliver ore to processing plants as well as for other purposes. At mines employing mining contractors, contracting costs represent a significant proportion of the total operating costs of these operations and the company does not own all of the mining equipment. For example, increased contractor rates at the Sadiola mine in Mali contributed to a significant rise in total cash costs in the final quarter of 2011. Increased contractor costs at Sunrise Dam in Australia and Geita in Tanzania contributed to higher production costs in the first quarter of 2012.
AngloGold Ashanti’s operations could be disrupted, resulting in additional costs and liabilities, if the mining contractors at affected mines have financial difficulties or if a dispute arises in renegotiating a contract, or if there is a delay in replacing an existing contractor and its operating equipment to meet business needs at expected cost levels. Increases in contract mining rates, in the absence of associated productivity increases, will also have an adverse impact on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
For example, on 13 October 2012, AngloGold Ashanti terminated the underground development contract with a third-party contractor at the Obuasi mine in Ghana. The costs of the termination amounted to $18.3m.
In addition, AngloGold Ashanti’s reduced control over those aspects of operations which are the responsibility of contractors, their failure to comply with applicable legal, human rights and regulatory requirements, or their inability to manage their workforce or provide high quality services or a high level of productivity could adversely affect AngloGold Ashanti’s reputation, results of operations and financial condition, and may result in the company incurring liability to third parties due to the actions of contractors.
AngloGold Ashanti competes with mining and other companies for key human resources and its inability to retain key personnel could have an adverse effect on its business.
AngloGold Ashanti competes on a global basis with mining and other companies, to attract and retain key human resources at all levels with the appropriate technical skills and operating and managerial experience necessary to operate and supervise its business. This is further exacerbated in the current environment of increased mining activity across the globe, combined with the global shortage of key mining skills, including geologists, mining engineers, metallurgists and skilled artisans.
The retention of staff is particularly challenging in South Africa, where, in addition to the impacts of global industry shortages of skilled labour, AngloGold Ashanti is required to achieve employment equity targets of participation by HDSAs in management and other positions. AngloGold Ashanti competes with all companies in South Africa to attract and retain a small but growing pool of HDSAs with the necessary skills and experience. AngloGold Ashanti has historically faced difficulty recruiting and retaining young graduates and qualified mid-level management in South Africa. Recruitment of skilled personnel has been challenging in Continental Africa due to university offerings that are often not well-suited to the specific needs of the mining industry, as well as other factors such as language barriers and low literacy skills.
The recruitment of skilled workers is also highly competitive in South America as a result of a shortage of skills and intense competition between mining companies.
The company may not be able to retain and attract sufficient skilled and experienced employees in all areas of the business. Should it fail to do so or lose any of its key personnel, business and growth prospects may be harmed and this could have an adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti’s inability to retain its senior management may have an adverse effect on its business.
The company’s success depends largely upon the continued service of its senior management, including its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the executive officers at each of its business divisions. The loss of one or more members of senior management, such as the recently announced departure of AngloGold Ashanti Chief Executive Officer, Mark Cutifani, to take the same position at Anglo American PLC as of 3 April 2013, could lead to other members of the management team leaving, disrupt the company’s operations, and have a material adverse impact on the company’s business, results of operations and financial condition.
The prevalence of occupational health diseases and the potential costs and liabilities related thereto may have an adverse effect on the business and results of operations of AngloGold Ashanti.
The primary areas of focus in respect of occupational health of employees within the company’s operations are noise-induced hearing loss and occupational lung diseases (OLD), which include pulmonary diseases such as tuberculosis from various causes and silicosis in individuals exposed to silica dust. These require active dust management strategies in underground operations, particularly in South Africa where a significant number of silicosis cases by current and former employees alleging past exposures are still reported each year to the board for statutory compensation. AngloGold Ashanti provides occupational health services to its employees at its occupational health centers and clinics and continues to improve preventative occupational hygiene initiatives, such as implementing various dust control measures and supplying its employees with respiratory protection equipment. If the costs associated with providing such occupational health services, implementing such dust control measures or supplying such equipment increase significantly beyond anticipated or budgeted amounts, this could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition. Actual and alleged health and safety incidents or breaches of standards may also adversely impact the company’s reputation.
AngloGold Ashanti is currently subject to class action litigation with respect to alleged occupational lung diseases (see “— AngloGold Ashanti is subject to the risk of litigation, the causes and costs of which are not always known”). AngloGold Ashanti is calling for the industry to engage with government (and other stakeholders) to seek an appropriate industry-wide solution. An industry-wide solution may not be reached or the terms thereof may have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s financial condition.
In response to the effects of silicosis in labour-sending communities, a number of mining companies (under the auspices of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa) together with the NUM, which is the largest union in the mining sector in South Africa, and the national and regional departments of health, have embarked on a project to assist in delivering compensation and relief by mining companies under the Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (ODMWA) to affected communities.
AngloGold Ashanti faces certain risks in dealing with HIV/ AIDS, particularly at its South African operations and with tropical disease outbreaks such as malaria, and other diseases which may have an adverse effect on the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
AIDS and associated diseases remain one of the major health care challenges faced by AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations. Workforce prevalence studies indicate that HIV prevalence rates among AngloGold Ashanti’s South African workforce may be as high as 30%.
Malaria and other tropical diseases pose significant health risks at all of the company’s operations in central, west and east Africa where such diseases may assume epidemic proportions because of ineffective national control programmes. Malaria is a major cause of death in young children and pregnant women but also gives rise to fatalities and absenteeism in adult men. Other conditions such as heart disease, chronic diseases, and obesity are of increasing incidence and concern.
Such diseases impair the health of workers and negatively affect productivity and profitability as a result of workers’ diminished focus or skill, absenteeism, treatment costs and allocated resources. Any current or future medical programme may not be successful in preventing or reducing the infection rate among AngloGold Ashanti’s employees or in affecting consequent illness or mortality rates. AngloGold Ashanti may incur significant costs in addressing this issue in the future, which could also adversely impact the company’s results of operations and financial condition.
The costs and impacts associated with the pumping of water inflows from closed mines adjacent to the company’s operations could have an adverse effect on its results of operations.
Certain of AngloGold Ashanti’s mining operations are located adjacent to the mining operations of other mining companies. The closure of a mining operation may have an impact upon continued operations at the adjacent mine if appropriate preventative steps are not taken. In particular, this can include the ingress of underground water where pumping operations at the adjacent closed mine are suspended. Such ingress could have an adverse effect on any one of the company’s mining operations as a result of property damage, disruption to operations, additional pollution liabilities and pumping costs and consequently could have an adverse impact on its results of operations and financial condition.
The potential costs associated with the remediation and prevention of groundwater contamination from the company’s operations or due to flooding from closed mines adjacent to the company’s operations could have a material adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti has identified groundwater contamination plumes at certain of its operations that have occurred primarily as a result of seepage from surface operations and facilities including tailings storage facilities and waste rock.
Deep groundwater contamination is a significant issue in Africa, where groundwater in some older mining regions has infiltrated mined-out workings. Potential contamination risk to shallow ground and surface water resources can occur when water is exposed to sulphide-bearing rock in such situations. AngloGold Ashanti has identified a flooding and future pollution risk posed by deep groundwater in the Klerksdorp and Far West Rand goldfields. AngloGold Ashanti’s Vaal River operations are part of the Klerksdorp goldfield and its West Wits operations are part of the Far West Rand goldfield. As a result of the interconnected nature of underground mining operations in South Africa, any proposed solution needs to be a combined one supported by all the companies owning mines located in these goldfields.
In view of the limitation of current information for the accurate estimation of liabilities, no reliable estimate can be made for these obligations. The potential costs of remediation and prevention of groundwater contamination at AngloGold Ashanti’s operations could be significant and may have a material adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
The occurrence of events for which AngloGold Ashanti is not insured or for which its insurance is inadequate may adversely affect cash flows and overall profitability.
AngloGold Ashanti maintains insurance to protect only against catastrophic events which could have a significant adverse effect on its operations and profitability. This insurance is maintained in amounts that the company believes to be reasonable depending upon the circumstances surrounding each identified risk. However, damage and third-party claims arising from catastrophic events may exceed the limit of liability on insurance policies the company has in place. Furthermore, AngloGold Ashanti’s insurance does not cover all potential risks associated with its business and may exclude certain parts of its business. AngloGold Ashanti may elect not to insure certain risks due to the high premiums or for various other reasons, including an assessment that the risks are remote.
The company may not be able to obtain insurance coverage at acceptable premiums. The company believes negotiations with insurance providers have become more difficult for a number of reasons, including prevailing macroeconomic conditions and the risk profile of the mining industry. Insurance for certain risks in particular, such as loss of title to mineral property, political risks in certain jurisdictions, environmental pollution, or other hazards resulting from exploration and production, is not generally available to mining companies on acceptable terms. The availability and cost of insurance coverage can vary considerably from year to year as a result of events beyond the company’s control or from claims, and this can result in higher premiums and periodically being unable to maintain the levels or types of insurance the company typically carries.
The failure to obtain adequate insurance could impair the company’s ability to continue to operate in the normal course or could result in the occurrence of events for which AngloGold Ashanti is not insured, either of which could adversely impact its cash flows, results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti is subject to the risk of litigation, the causes and costs of which are not always known.
AngloGold Ashanti is subject to litigation, arbitration and other legal proceedings arising in the normal course of business and may be involved in disputes that may result in litigation. The causes of potential future litigation cannot be known and may arise from, among other things, business activities, environmental and health and safety concerns, share price volatility or failure to comply with disclosure obligations. The results of litigation cannot be predicted with certainty but could include costly damage awards or settlements, fines, and the loss of licenses, concessions, or rights, among other things.
In the event of a dispute AngloGold Ashanti may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of foreign courts or may not be successful in subjecting foreign persons to the jurisdiction of courts in South Africa or the United States.
AngloGold Ashanti is subject to numerous claims, including class actions or similar group claims relating to silicosis and other OLD, and could be subject to similar claims in the future.
AngloGold Ashanti has received notice of two applications for class certification relating to silicosis in which the company is a respondent. It has also received notice of individual claims.
It is possible that additional class actions and/or individual claims relating to silicosis and/or other OLD will be filed against AngloGold Ashanti in the future. AngloGold Ashanti will defend all and any subsequent claims as filed on their merits. Should AngloGold Ashanti be unsuccessful in defending any such claims, or in otherwise favourably resolving perceived deficiencies in the national occupational disease compensation framework that were identified in an earlier decision by the Constitutional Court, such matters would have an adverse effect on its financial position, which could be material.
In Colombia, the company is also involved in five class action lawsuits in relation to AGAC Santa Maria-Montecristo and La Colosa projects. One of these class action lawsuits led to a preliminary injunction suspending the mining concession contracts of the Santa Maria-Montecristo project in September 2011. Additionally, in Colombia, AGAC is involved in an action in the Administrative Superior Court of the Cundinamarca District against the Department of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (DoE) following its issuance of a fine against AGAC on the basis that AGAC was in breach of its mining terms of reference.
Should the company be unable to resolve disputes favourably or to enforce its rights, this may have a material adverse impact on the company’s financial performance, cash flow and results of operations.
The implementation of an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti is implementing a single, global ERP system to support all the operations managed by AngloGold Ashanti. The ERP system is being implemented over a three-and-a-half-year period which commenced in August 2011. The contemplated implementation of an ERP system on a global basis is inherently a high-risk initiative due to the potential for implementation cost and time overruns. In addition, such implementation could affect the ability of AngloGold Ashanti to report and manage technical and financial information if difficulties in the implementation and operation of the system are experienced, which could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti’s results of operations and financial condition.
Sales of large quantities of AngloGold Ashanti‘s ordinary shares and American Depository Shares (ADSs), and the perception that these sales may occur or other dilution of the company’s equity, could adversely affect the prevailing market price of the company’s securities.
The bulk of AngloGold Ashanti’s shares are held by a relatively small number of investors. According to information available to the company, AngloGold Ashanti’s four largest shareholders beneficially owned approximately 23.29% of AngloGold Ashanti’s ordinary shares as at 31 December 2012.
Low returns, increasing costs, higher capital expenditure, ill conceived corporate activity, rising geopolitical and labour risk and low dividend yields over the past few years have resulted in a deterioration of market sentiment towards gold equities. The market price of the company’s securities could fall if large quantities of ordinary shares or ADSs are sold in the public market, if there is divestment by certain types or groupings of investors, or if there is the perception in the marketplace that such sales could occur. Subject to applicable securities laws, holders of the company‘s ordinary shares or ADSs may decide to sell them at any time. The market price of the company’s ordinary shares or ADSs could also fall as a result of any future offerings AngloGold Ashanti makes of its ordinary shares, ADSs, or securities exchangeable or exercisable for the company’s ordinary shares or ADSs, or the perception in the market place that these offerings might occur. AngloGold Ashanti may make such offerings, including offerings of additional ADS rights, share rights or similar securities, at any time or from time to time in the future.
Fluctuations in the exchange rate of currencies may reduce the market value of AngloGold Ashanti’s securities, as well as the market value of any dividends or distributions paid by the company.
AngloGold Ashanti has historically declared all dividends in South African rands. As a result, exchange rate movements may have affected and may continue to affect the Australian dollar, the British pound, the Ghanaian cedi and the US dollar value of these dividends, as well as of any other distributions paid by the relevant depositary to investors that hold the company’s securities. This may reduce the value of these securities to investors.
AngloGold Ashanti’s memorandum and articles of association allow for dividends and distributions to be declared in any currency at the discretion of the board of directors, or the company’s shareholders at a general meeting. If and to the extent that AngloGold Ashanti opts to declare dividends and distributions in US dollars, exchange rate movements will not affect the US dollar value of any dividends or distributions. Nevertheless, the value of any dividend or distribution in Australian dollars, British pounds, Ghanaian cedis or South African rands will continue to be affected. If and to the extent that dividends and distributions are declared in South African rands, exchange rate movements will continue to affect the Australian dollar, British pound, Ghanaian cedi and US dollar value of these dividends and distributions. Furthermore, the market value of AngloGold Ashanti’s securities as expressed in Australian dollars, British pounds, Ghanaian cedis, US dollars and South African rands will continue to fluctuate in part as a result of foreign exchange fluctuations.
AngloGold Ashanti may not pay dividends or make similar payments to shareholders in the future.
AngloGold Ashanti pays cash dividends only if there are sufficient funds available for that purpose. Fund availability depends upon many factors that include the amount of cash available in relation to AngloGold Ashanti’s capital expenditure on existing infrastructure and exploration and other projects.
Under South African law, companies are entitled to pay a dividend or similar payment to its shareholders only if the company meets the solvency and liquidity tests set out in legislation, and the company’s founding documents.
Given these factors, including the capital and investment needs of the company, and the board of directors’ discretion to declare a dividend that includes the amount and timing thereof, cash dividends may not be paid in the future.