STRATEGIC FOCUS AREA
In tackling the pandemic, clear and consistent communication and co-operation, both within AngloGold Ashanti and with a broad range of external stakeholders, was fundamental in navigating the pandemic amid a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape. In responding, we acted quickly with a plan that not only enabled business continuity and delivery on our strategic objectives, but also supported our people and communities throughout.
Responding to and managing the pandemic
It quickly became apparent how vital it was to ensure close and ongoing co-operation between health ministries, local government departments, community leadership and our own site management and health teams. The mechanisms and effectiveness of this collaboration was one of the more positive outcomes of the pandemic that we will work to make a feature of our business in the years ahead, enabling us to be more proactive in anticipating both shortand long-term health risks, and to design appropriate responses.
The rapid evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the multiple risks presented, required closer monitoring and shorter, faster internal reporting systems. A multidisciplinary committee that initially met daily was established at the outset of the outbreak to implement a crisis management plan and steer the business through the pandemic.
The centrepiece of this strategy was our five-phase preparedness and response plan, based on lessons learnt during the Ebola outbreak, and an associated risk monitoring system. A risk matrix and reporting dashboard was and is still reviewed weekly, covering travel management, supply chain, human resources and information management, as well as government and community collaboration.
The various multi-disciplinary COVID-19 protocols include the screening of employees and referral of suspected cases for testing and further management. Daily temperature and symptom screening on access to the workplaces continues as we closely monitor and reinforce interventions around education and awareness; personal hygiene and disinfection of equipment, working environments and infrastructure; social distancing and the prohibition of gatherings; remote work arrangements; and the wearing of masks, among others.
Systems were also put in place to test and treat those with COVID-19 and to assist with isolation and quarantine of contacts as soon as possible. Given some limitations in local health systems in certain jurisdictions, we augmented testing capacity on and off mine sites by strengthening infrastructure support for hospitalisation, isolation and quarantine.
Intensive communication awareness campaigns on the new operating parameters were rolled out for both employees and communities, in line with our COVID-19 protocols and those laid out in the applicable jurisdictions. We continuously update these communication campaigns to address emerging themes such as prevention through responsible behaviour, testing, gender-based violence and mental health, among others.
Communication awareness poster campaign
In multiple languages: English, Spanish and Swahili
Primary impacts of the pandemic
On the business
Various levels of national lockdown were implemented across our operating regions, with the most significant being at the South Africa operations where underground operations were suspended for nearly one month from the end of March 2020. Operations were gradually resumed with full production resumed during May, 2020.
In the Americas region, after an initial lockdown, the Brazilian operations returned to full production. The rate of infection among employees reflected that in broader Brazilian society. However, at Cerro Vanguardia, operations were suspended several times, most recently in November/December 2020.
In Australia, although there was no official national lockdown, shift arrangements and the fly-in-fly-out roster was impacted by national travel restrictions. The impact on production was minimal.
In the Africa region, the most significant consequence of the pandemic was the adjustment to the Obuasi Redevelopment Project’s schedule. This was delayed by a quarter, largely as a consequent of restrictions to travel by expatriate employees.
Impact on production and costs
The total combined impact on production in 2020 is estimated at 140,000oz while the contribution to the all-in sustaining cost is estimated at $55/oz, equivalent to around 5%.
Stakeholder collaboration around managing the pandemic and its impacts was essential to ensure the health and safety of employees and those in the communities surrounding our operations.
We ensured that no employee lost salaries or benefits because of pandemic-related lockdowns. Their financial security, in addition to our socio-economic support for our host communities, has greatly reinforced the interconnectedness of our mines and communities.
As at 19 March 2021, AngloGold Ashanti had conducted more than 50,800 COVID-19 tests of which 2,794 employees had tested positive. About 94.4% of the confirmed cases have fully recovered. Sadly, 13 of our employees succumbed to COVID-19-related illnesses.
We implemented a series of humanitarian initiatives to keep our employees and communities surrounding our operations safe and healthy.
AngloGold Ashanti also extended COVID-19 controls to dependants and communities. Collaboration and partnerships to address the outbreak at local, industry and national level were key pillars of our strategy to control and manage the pandemic. We provided support in terms of food, personal protective equipment, medical supplies and equipment; personal and environmental hygiene facilities and services; infrastructure support; remote mental health and medical services as well as cash donations at various levels of governments. In the Africa region, given the challenges of the region’s healthcare systems, collaboration with local and national health authorities was key to mitigating risk. AngloGold Ashanti contributed to various community control measures. Obuasi received an award for the best COVID-19 educational response initiative at the fourth edition of the Sustainability and Social Investments awards in Ghana in November 2020, in recognition of the nature and quality of the awareness campaigns at the mine, in host communities and the nation at large.
Governments and local municipalities
The rapid escalation of the seriousness of the pandemic necessitated close co-operation between national health ministries, local governments and our own health teams. This was vital in helping to limit infections. This co-operation allowed us to build trust and create solutions together – whether it was securing access to testing, designing social distancing plans, or bolstering the availability of hospital beds.
In addition, we continue to support and explore opportunities for partnerships and to collaborate with national authorities and contribute to efforts towards equitable access to safe, good quality and approved vaccines. Given the anticipated delays in the vaccine roll-out efforts in many of our operating countries, current controls are being re-enforced and maintained.
Key COVID-related statistics as of end of March 2021
Total number of confirmed cases
Total number of deaths
Total number of tests conducted
spent on COVID-19-related community efforts and to manage direct impact on business.