Environmental responsibilities and performance

Key areas of our environmental responsibilities are protecting biodiversity, including land rehabilitation, and mitigating impacts on water, energy and climate change, and air. The extent to which we manage these at each of our operations is influenced by their different geographies and applicable regulations.

At an operational level, our environmental work is governed by our Group Environmental Policy, Standards and Guidelines, which together aim for a consistent approach across our global portfolio, while enabling operations to adapt their environmental management programmes to varying operational, geographical, climate and regulatory settings.

In addition, we are actively working to integrate environmental management with our operational functions, and formalising crossfunctional collaboration.

In 2019, our environmental activities focused on:

  • Water: Water is a valuable and, in some areas, a scarce resource. All our operations are subject to either a scarcity or an excess of water, with 17% of our operations – such as Siguiri and Sadiola – in high water stress regions. A primary objective of water management at site level is to minimise the volume of water imported, often working towards a site-specific target. To better track this, we monitor the ratio of fresh water re-used and the volume of water imported per tonne of ore treated. Another primary water management objective is to prevent the contamination of water resources by our activities. Where this has not been possible, environmental incidents are logged, investigated and corrective actions are put in place. In 2019 we experienced three reportable environmental incidents. See <SR>.

  • Tailings management: The safe and responsible management of tailings, both during and after mining, is critical to the sustainability of our industry and in protecting the environment. AngloGold Ashanti has stringent monitoring and controls in place for the management of its TSFs. For work undertaken in Brazil, see above and the Americas’ regional review in this report as well as the AGA Mineração and Serra Grande <OP>. See also the case study: Tailings storage facility management in Brazil from the <SR>

  • Energy and climate change: Mining is by its very nature more energy intensive. Lower grades mean more rock has to be shifted to maintain production and as mining progresses further away from infrastructure, the longer distances require more energy to transport both workers and the rock mined.

    In 2019, we continued to mitigate our carbon footprint, marginally reducing our GHG emissions intensity by 1% from 31.8kg of GHG per tonne treated versus 32.1kg of GHG per tonne treated in 2018. Absolute GHG emissions remained flat. This was despite a 3.7% increase in total energy used to sustain production. These improvements were led by continued benefits from energy efficiency gains at our South African mines, which, despite a 9.3% increase in the South African grid emission factor, managed an 8.5% reduction in absolute emissions and a 9.2% reduction in emissions intensity compared to 2018.

    External pressure around ESG issues, especially climate change, continue to intensify. This pressure has included some of AngloGold Ashanti’s largest shareholders and the wider investment community. We are currently beginning development of a comprehensive new climate change strategy that will reset our emission reduction targets, ensure we protect our operations and our host communities against physical climate risks, continue to implement appropriate climate disclosure systems, and maximise opportunities for cost-saving and energy efficiency. We will be guided by, among other things, the ICMM’s updated Climate Change Position Statement. Plans are underway to align our primary climate change disclosure with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) recommendations.

  • Integrated closure management: The social aspects of mine closure and related management are becoming increasingly important in the integrated management of mine closure. There is also a growing emphasis on contributing toward resilient and sustainable communities during the lifecycle of the mining operation. We are working to achieve this by engaging with our communities, allowing them to identify the projects they would like to see developed in the areas of health, education, agriculture, small business and supply chain development. Simultaneously, as part of our mine closure responsibilities, we will continue rehabilitating disturbed land as we mine. Closure is currently underway at Yatela while mining operations have ceased at Morila. Geita’s mine closure plan has been submitted to the authorities in Tanzania while at Obuasi, a Closure Consultative Committee has been established. Also at Obuasi, a Reclamation Security Agreement (RSA) describes the activities required to reclaim land previously disturbed by mining activities. It is based on a reclamation plan approved by the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in terms of which funds are to be posted or bonded as security for land reclamation. This financial surety is aimed at helping to ensure that adequate funds will be available to pay for site rehabilitation and post-closure monitoring and maintenance at any stage in the life of the mine.

    Rehabilitation liabilities per operation ($ million)
    Continental Africa249.9158.8408.7378.3
    South Africa15.381.396.675.7
    Great Noligwa5.927.533.430.7
    Legacy projects    
    - Vaal River-
    - West Wits-
    - Other0.2-0.20.2
    First Uranium SA3.528.732.220.2
    Cerro Vanguardia58.219.177.369.1
    AGA Mineração47.114.962.048.6
    Serra Grande16.34.020.312.6
    United States of America    
    La Colosa6.6-6.66.4
    Sunrise Dam28.417.045.440.6
    Less equity accounted investments included above(2)(15.7)(38.3)(54.0)(57.5)
    Less liabilities held for sale included above(4)(15.1)(81.3)(96.4)-
    1. (1) Includes Mpasatia (Bibiani pit)
    2. (2) The equity-accounted investments refer to the Mali assets, Kibali in the DRC and Gramalote in Colombia.
    3. (3) Includes Savuka
    4. (4) Includes the liabilities held for sale of Mponeng, Great Noligwa, TauTona, Vaal River and West Wits legacy projects and First Uranium.

The Company’s process to estimate rehabilitation and decommissioning provisions is set out on page 26 of the <AFS>