Our Sustainability approach

Stewart Bailey Executive Vice President,
Corporate Affairs and Sustainability

Sustainability is a key strategic focus for our business. We aim to be responsible stewards of the environments in which we operate, the ore bodies entrusted to us by our host communities, and the capital provided to us by our shareholders. Improving our sustainability performance across all areas is central to maintaining our social licence to operate – this includes safety and environmental performance, to engagement with our communities and effective management of our tailings.

We work in a context where stakeholder expectations and the political landscapes and regulatory environments in which we operate are continually changing. As a result, in 2019 we combined a number of disciplines under the Corporate Affairs and Sustainability banner. The departments of safety, health, environment, security and human rights, community and government relations, external reporting, communications and investor relations now come under the Corporate Affairs and Sustainability umbrella. This creates a structure that we believe will ensure that we not only understand the needs of our stakeholders, but can address them effectively and make them well integrated within the organisation. This is a vitally important input in ensuring we have a sustainable, long-term business model and will help improve our disclosure.

This integration is also aligned with a greater emphasis on ESG factors by investors, lenders, regulators and communities the world over. We welcome this ESG trend and will strive to meet more exacting expectations in performance and transparency.

A strong sustainability performance enables us to achieve our overarching strategy, which is to realise sustainable improvements to cash flow and returns, throughout the cycle.

We are also working to ensure that our operators, finance teams, human resource practitioners, supply chain specialists and mine planners all view their work through a sustainability lens. By embedding sustainability models across our value chain and through all reporting structures, we are building on our goal of deepening integration of sustainability into our business and the strengthening of connections between our business activities and the achievement of the UN SDGs.

To further achieve this aim, and central to our sustainability strategy, we have developed what we have called a “Shared Consciousness” dashboard for each operating site. This dashboard displays key performance indicators across all sustainability disciplines for each site in a near real-time basis, ensuring that the company’s leadership – at a corporate and site level – will have a clear view of the leading and lagging indicators for each key sustainability discipline. This aims to improve visibility of risks and opportunities, while better harnessing the collective expertise of the company’s managers across jurisdictions in mitigating those risks, resolving sustainability challenges and seizing opportunities where they exist. See <SDR> 2018: Alignment with the SDGs.

Emerging risks

One such area of risk is ASM in some of the jurisdictions in which we operate, driven by a host of factors from climate change, regional conflict and the lack of alternative economic opportunities, among other things. See Material issue: Artisanal and small-scale mining

The gold mining industry is dealing with growing numbers of ASM, both legal and illegal, with the higher gold price likely to increase the number of people engaged in this activity globally. This presents challenges that no single company, organisation or government can tackle alone. We are working to strengthen networks with communities and governments to provide paths to sustainable livelihoods where possible. We also seek to find to other solutions to improve safety, reduce exploitation, environmental impact and help governments receive benefit from the development of these natural resources. We support appropriate agreements on the formalisation of ASM.

Materiality process

This report details our sustainability performance across all our operating jurisdictions for the reporting period 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019 and looks forward to actions in 2020. It is organised around a a set of material issues that were compiled following a comprehensive materiality survey across internal and external stakeholders. It identifies the main challenges and opportunities facing AngloGold Ashanti that are central to our sustainability approach and actions. The Company is also responding diligently to material challenges presented by the recent Covid-19 pandemic (see our Company response).

The process of selecting the material issues for the Sustainability Report is guided by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards and the AA1000 Accountability Stakeholder Engagement Standard, and has matured over the years. We again hosted an online internal materiality survey which consisted of the components below alongside.

Components of the online internal materiality survey

A qualitative survey of the challenges and opportunities using a PESTLE analysis. This acronym describes the political, economic, social, technological, legislative and environmental aspects of our business landscape.

A semi-quantitative rating of the top 10 company risks, as well as the material issues as published during the 2018 reporting period, establishing their current relevance.

A qualitative selection aimed at identifying emerging risks and issues.

We also studied data from external mining risk reports, issues arising from our interactions with other stakeholders and those appearing in social and conventional media. This process resulted in a detailed report on the materiality process, survey responses and analyses, and gave rise to a prioritisation of material issues, which has been confirmed by the Executive Committee. Material issues include the economic, environmental and social risks that could affect our reputation and ability to create value over the short, medium and long term. See our top 10 material issues*.

In this report, we illustrate the connection between our material issues, our strategy and the actions we are taking – both proactively and reactively – to addressing concerns and securing our licence to operate. The integration of the SDGs remains an important part of our strategy. An extensive mapping of material issues to the SDGs was undertaken in 2018 and continues to feature in this report, allowing continued reporting against the identified prioritised SDGs. See <SDR> 2018: Alignment with the SDGs.

  • *Subsequently condensed to nine material issues by combining integrated closure management with responsible environmental stewardship.

Actions and industry initiatives

Through the year, we have continued to develop and maintain projects and initiatives that work for the benefit of the communities that host our operations. These vary in number and approach and are premised on carrying out activities that leave communities better off for us operating there. These activities are highlighted in the case studies.

We continue to engage with industry groups and work closely with the ICMM, an international body dedicated to a safe, fair and sustainable mining and metals industry, and the World Gold Council, an industry body which counts the world’s largest publicly traded gold producers as its members. A number of our discipline heads contribute to various working groups, publications, position papers and guidelines, published and promoted by both groups.

We again participated in the Responsible Mining Index (RMI) Assessment. The RMI uses an evidenced-based approach and monitors the policies and practices of a number of companies across economic, social, governance and environmental aspects. The index aims to highlight areas where mining companies are performing well in relation to sustainability goals while also pointing out failings. Its findings provide companies with a third-party assessment of their sustainability achievements, while also reporting on areas where improvements can be made. In addition to the RMI, we are members of the UNGC and other industry initiatives. See Frameworks and standards.

Further to our participation in the above, we are committed to transparent and continued communications with our various stakeholders. These include employees, investors, host communities, governments and regulators, business partners (suppliers), non-governmental organisations, interest groups and the media. In the year, we developed fresh guidelines on our communications approach, promoting frequent and transparent engagement aligned to our company values.

Given the varying nature of our sites, a communications plan is developed for each operation, accommodating the differing cultural expectations, as well as the particular media and communications landscapes.

All engagement is carried out in line with the King IV principles and these guidelines provide the basis for the way in which we work from exploration and development and ultimately closure. The board has oversight for stakeholder engagement with discipline heads providing project feedback. Further, the board monitors key issues in the sustainability and community sphere through the Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee.

Company values

This year we will refresh and update our company values to ensure they are properly understood and adhered to by every employee. In doing so we will further promote our philosophy of a shared consciousness with respect to the sustainability of our business. We aim to ensure everyone understands the importance of creating the conditions to sustain our business over the long term, and places it at the centre of their work. All disciplines must ensure their work – and the spirit in which it is done – measures up to AngloGold Ashanti’s values in every respect and contributes to the longevity and prosperity of the company.

This thinking is as important in the area of mine planning as it is to tailings management or to financing. It is as crucial in designing safety systems as it is to the financing of our supply chain. The business must be viewed holistically with an eye to the future. In our work we must pursue measures and projects with the intention of achieving equitable relationships with our host communities and ensuring their interests are advanced. These objectives, in turn, must be matched to the expectations of our shareholders.

Organogram [icon]


The principle role of the board is to provide oversight on the long-term sustainability and success of the business, for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders. The board is supported by its committees and oversees the implementation of the sustainability strategy. The Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee is responsible for assisting the board in monitoring matters relating to sustainability.

  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Social, Ethics and Sustainability Committee
  • Remuneration and Human Resources Committee
  • Nominations Committee
  • Investment Committee


Primary responsibility for managing sustainability matters rests with AngloGold Ashanti’s leadership, in particular with the Executive Vice President: Corporate Affairs who is responsible for executing the sustainability strategy.

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Executive Vice President: Group Planning and Technical
  • Chief Operating Officer: International
  • Executive Vice President: Group Strategy and Business Development
  • Executive Vice President: General Councel, Compliance and Company Secretary
  • Chief Operating Officer: Africa
  • Executive Vice President: Corporate Affairs and Sustainability
  • Executive Vice President: Group Human Resources


Group Corporate Affairs and Sustainability is responsible for the development of management frameworks and supports the implementation of the sustainability strategy.

  • Safety
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Security and Human Rights
  • Government and Community Relations and Sustainability Reporting
  • Investor Relations and Communications


At the highest operating level, general managers, are accountable for on-the-ground implementation of the sustainability strategy.