Integrated report <IR> 2020

E G performance – Environment

Mining, by its very nature, has a negative impact on the environment. Our primary business activity is to extract goldbearing rock from the earth. In so doing, land is disturbed. Mining consumes water and energy, generates air emissions and produces various forms of waste that must be safely and responsibly managed and/or disposed of. Air, water and energy management, the protection of biodiversity, and land rehabilitation are principal environmental focus areas. AngloGold Ashanti acknowledges the extent of our impacts on the natural environment as well as on host communities and is committed to mitigating those impacts.



  • icon
  • icon

Our approach to environmental management is based on responsible stewardship, with the goal of minimising impacts to the environment and the equitable use of natural resources.

Key areas of environmental responsibility are protecting biodiversity, including land rehabilitation, and mitigating impacts on water, energy, and air and climate change. We work actively to integrate environmental management with our operational functions and to formalise cross-functional collaboration.

Our active management aims to minimise impacts, to enhance efficiencies in the use of natural resources, to encourage responsible consumption, and to mitigate and remediate environmental impacts.

Our most material environmental issues are:

  • Energy and climate change: Innovative methods are used to reduce GHG emissions intensity and we continue to search for ways to improve in this important area. In 2008, we set our first target to cut GHG emissions intensity of our portfolio by 30% over 15 years. We achieved a 43% reduction in carbon intensity by 2018, well before the 2022 self-imposed deadline. New medium-term targets are in the process of being set and will be followed by a pathway to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Hydropower, already used at Kibali in the DRC and at our operations in Brazil, will also feature strongly at our Colombia projects once mining begins there.
  • Water management: We aim to continuously optimise the volume of water imported for production, and to maximise water re-use within the operations, while preventing the contamination of natural water resources by our activities. In 2020, re-used
  • Tailings management: We are committed to implementing the Global Industry Standard on Tailings Management. Our detailed tailings management framework sets principles, standards and guidelines for the construction, management and oversight of our tailings storage facilities (TSFs), and focuses on the sound management of all phases of the TSF lifecycle. Oversight at all levels - from board to site – covers planning and investigation; design, construction and operation; monitoring and checking; and taking corrective action where necessary. In Brazil, we have begun converting our TSFs to dry-stacking structures in compliance with new legislation.
  • Integrated closure management: Managing the social aspects of closure is perhaps the most difficult element of mining, particularly given the growing emphasis on contributing toward the development of resilient and sustainable communities. We aim to identify social transition projects by engaging closely with communities during the life of the mining operation, to promote sustainable local businesses and to continue rehabilitating disturbed land as we operate to reduce final restoration and decommissioning costs. In recent years we have managed to steadily reduce the area of land disturbed. See table below.


  • Our Group Environmental Policy, Standards and Guidelines guide our environmental activities while allowing flexibility to adapt to the varying operational, geographical, climate and regulatory contexts. Each operation’s unique set of controls is maintained through its Environmental Management System (EMS), which is ISO 14001: 2015 certified.
  • We are in material compliance with all relevant environmental legislation.
  • 94% of sites certified to ISO 14001:2015
  • 88% of sites certified to the International Cyanide Management Code

All our gold processing plants are certified to the Cyanide code with the exception of Obuasi mine and Mine Waste Solutions (MWS). MWS was sold on 30 September 2020 while Obuasi has been under construction and redevelopment. Obuasi will initiate processes for recertification once construction and ramp up to full production are achieved.

Environmental performance – summary

Energy and climate change

Our aim is to mitigate our carbon footprint through gains in energy efficiency while insulating our operations and host communities against physical climate risks as a result of the climate crisis.

AngloGold Ashanti has been proactive in acting on climate change and provided early leadership. We are now focused on setting new targets.

Preparatory work is currently underway to set new targets. A new internal Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) has been established with members drawn from key group functions and from all operations. The primary aims of the working group are to review our climate change performance, develop an updated climate change strategy, update our understanding of physical and transition risks and opportunities relating to climate change, develop and update mitigation and adaption priorities for operations and host communities, update climate change metrics and targets, including a revision of related metrics used in management’s discretionary remuneration, and oversee implementation of mitigation and adaptation projects.

Energy usage by region (petajoules)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Africa 8.46 9.16 9.36 9.93 10.29
Americas 3.94 4.23 4.13 4.31 4.17
Australia 5.62 6.32 6.72 7.68 7.77
South Africa 10.54 10.05 5.17 4.40 3.34
AngloGold Ashanti 28.55 29.76 25.38 26.32 25.57
GHG emissions by region (kilotonnes of GHG)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Africa 682 666 676 825 770
Americas 180 182 168 177 166
Australia 336 372 395 449 451
South Africa 2,864 2,733 1,322 1,218 949
AngloGold Ashanti 4,062 3,953 2,571 2,570 2,337
Energy use intensity by region (gigajoules per metric tonne treated)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
South Africa0.
AngloGold Ashanti0.330.350.320.330.37
GHG intensity by region (kilograms GHG per tonne treated)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
South Africa7370383540
AngloGold Ashanti4846323233

A detailed breakdown of our environmental statistics by operation is available in the ESG data tables (xls, 3.5mb)


Water is a valuable and often scarce resource. It is also one which we share with other users such as farmers, local industries and communities. Our aim is to prevent any contamination of water sources and improve our water use efficiencies by minimising the volumes of water imported/drawn for use in our mining and processing activities and maximising its re-use and recycling at the operations.

Water usage by region (gigalitres)*
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Africa 11.9 16.7 15.6 15.8 17.4
Americas 8.1 8.3 7.8 8.8 10.6
Australia 7.6 6.8 7.7 8.7 8.7
South Africa 23.2 20.5 7.7 8.7 10.7
AngloGold Ashanti 56.7 52.2 45.9 47.9 47.4
Water use intensity by region (gigalitres)
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
South Africa0.590.530.420.420.46
AngloGold Ashanti0.590.610.570.590.68
Number of reportable environmental incidents by region
2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Africa 2 1 1 6
Americas 1 2
Australia 0
South Africa 1 1 2 0
AngloGold Ashanti 1 3 2 3 8

A detailed breakdown of our environmental statistics by operation is available in the ESG data tables (xls, 3.5mb)

Tailings management

At the start of 2020, AngloGold Ashanti managed 34 tailings facilities – 60% active, 20% being remined and 20% inactive (dormant). At the end of the year, after the sale of assets, the portfolio had been reduced to 22 TSFs, of which 15 were active and seven inactive.

The ICMM’s Global Industry Tailings Standard on Tailings Management was launched in August 2020. As a member of the ICMM, we have committed to implement the standard at all facilities within five years. The group’s tailing engineers staff have prepared a gap assessment against the Standard’s requirements to be rolled out to operations starting in 2021.

We have also developed a detailed framework for tailings management practice that sets principles, standards and guidelines for the construction, management and oversight of TSFs.

The framework focuses on the sound management of all phases of the lifecycle of a TSF and recognises that each TSF is unique and that no single design or operating technique can be universally adopted.

Integrated closure management

Our integrated closure management standard aims to ensure that our activities minimise adverse impacts on people, the environment and broader society. Our Closure Planning Standard, implemented in 2013, sets a consistent benchmark across all operations and ensures a multi-disciplinary approach in identifying and managing current and future closure risks and liabilities.

The social aspects of managing mine closure is increasingly important with a growing emphasis on contributing towards resilient and sustainable communities during the lifecycle of the mining operation that will leave a positive impact long after closure. See Resilient, self-sustaining communities in the <SR>.

Land under management, land rehabilitated, and rehabilitation liabilities
  Land (ha) Rehabilitation liabilities ($m)
Region Under management Rehabilitated to date Disturbed and not yet rehabilitated Restoration Decommissioning Total 2020 Total 2019
Africa 243,188 2,173 9,248 248.1 164.4 412.5 408.7
Americas 77,471 688 2,943 126.2 33.0 159.2 167.0
Australia 121,681 1,050 4,803 68.7 42.2 110.9 96.8
South Africa 19,171 1,331 8,887 96.6
Less equity-accounted investments       (3.1) (20.6) (23.7) (54.0)
Less liabilities held for sale       (96.4)
AngloGold Ashanti 461,511 5,243 25,881 439.9 219.0 658.9 618.7

More detail on each of these material environmental issues is provided in the <SR>

A detailed breakdown of our environmental statistics by operation is available in the ESG data tables (xls, 3.5mb)