The most useful value of the AngloGold Ashanti Sustainability Report (SR) is that it presents the company an opportunity to meet its statutory and voluntary reporting obligations as well as account to all its stakeholders, including shareholders, governments, employees, communities, and its peers in the industry.
The report also enables the company to assess the effectiveness of the oversight function of the board and all its sub-committees, and in particular, the Social, Ethics and Sustainability (SES) Committee and its sponsors in the executive and management teams.
It is a crucial tool in providing evidence of our efforts to operate responsibly and our contribution to our bottom line and to improving society. It highlights those areas where we can and must improve our performance.
Increasingly the demands of all stakeholders, from shareholders, to governments and communities in which we operate, are merging for a fair deal and tangible benefits from the development of finite natural resources.
AngloGold Ashanti elevated discussions on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues from as early as 2012. This has matured over the years and the company welcomes the increasing concern of shareholders, investors and fund managers with ESG, as they push companies to address climate change, structural inequalities, diversity and accountability.
In 2019 the company doubled its efforts to mainstream sustainability across all its business units. We successfully located the responsibility for driving sustainability at the centre of our strategy, investment priorities, operations, on all strategic executive decisions. Our engineers and accountants must question whether their decisions will improve the overall sustainability of the business, and strengthen our social license to operate. We also seek to ensure that our efforts are congruent with the environmental, social and governance objectives of a diverse universe of stakeholders. We have set targets in safety, diversity and inclusion, localisation and emissions, among others.
We believe that level of integration will make our business vastly more sustainable. In this regard, the Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee has created clear, understandable links between the sustainability of the business, its overall performance and the remuneration and reward of the people responsible for implementing the company strategy.
AngloGold Ashanti can confidently claim that our approach has delivered tangible results. The company recorded its first calendar year without a fatal incident, with the total days without an occupational fatality reaching 633 days by the end of the financial year. Because safety and the health of our employees is our first priority, this achievement was significant particularly because of the difficult safety journey over the years. It shows what can be achieved when clear objectives are set, when accountability is placed at the right level, and when practical strategies are designed. We can never be complacent and that was made very clear in March 2020 when we lost four of our colleagues in two separate incidents. They were Lucas Maapea, 41, Xolani Ngqwemese, 31, Mokhethea Johannes Radebe, 47, Thabo Rakometsi, 29. The loss is heart-breaking and a stark reminder that we have to underline our commitment to safety. The Company is also responding diligently to material challenges presented by the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
During the year we improved our efforts to involve communities in determining the direction of social projects. Meaningful dialogue has improved community relations and enabled better identification of risks before they manifest in operational disruptions.
We continued to encourage more women to develop careers in the mining sector, both at a site management and executive level. We have looked at the recruitment of women and encouraged that they are included across the mining value chain. The Human Resources management team reports to the committee on the representation of women at every level and has adopted a deliberate approach of setting targets and making sure these are achieved beyond employment legislation policy directives.
Reporting on the occupational health of our staff has been central to the work of the committee. Similarly, the committee’s role in overseeing stewardship over the environment has been rigorous, especially the health of our tailings dams and the prevention of water pollution in the mining process.
We work in line with the requirements of the King IV Report on Corporate Governance, ensuring the company remains a responsible corporate citizen. The committee monitors sustainability practices in the areas of social investment, employment equity, diversity and inclusion, localisation, health of discipline, whistle-blowing and compliance strategies.
As chair of the Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee for the last eight years, I have seen significant progress in many areas. Safety is vastly improved, our efforts to boost local content are gaining traction and we have more women in almost every area of the business. Our Obuasi mine – for so long the most pressing of our sustainability challenges – has reopened after a five-year hiatus, with strong support from stakeholders, in particular the government in Ghana.
As I bow out from AngloGold Ashanti, I thank my colleagues on the board and in the executive and the dedicated women and men across the business. Their unwavering support and robust debate have led to the extraordinary progress we have made together in strengthening the company, enhancing its reputation and contributing to its value through our relentless advocacy for the centrality of sustainability in our business.