Sustainability Report <SR> 2020

Artisanal and small-scale mining

“We cooperate with governments, communities, civil society, the private sector and international bodies to support sustainable futures for communities around our operations.”


Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) operations, where individuals and a growing number of organised groups mining informally and sometimes illegally, either on previously mined areas or in some cases on sites belonging to AngloGold Ashanti, is a material concern to the Company. Many of these people are subsistence miners, working in dangerous conditions to earn a living. Others, though, are part of collectives, mining for larger operatives, with little respect for safety or the environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic may lead to social unrest as depressed economies see more people looking to earn an income. This, and the impact of climate change and political instabilities in some areas, leading to the displacement of communities, may lead to a rise in informal ASM and illegal mining. We have long advocated for increased efforts in the formalisation of ASM, helping to educate and provide safer work environments and alternative avenues for the people around our mines to secure a living.

At Siguiri in Guinea, illegal mining activities in our concessions remain. We work with local and regional authorities, community leaders and other stakeholders to assist in mitigating or reducing this risk to communities and our operations. In the year, our active pits remained clear of illegal mining mainly because of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the community and authorities in late 2019, a positive outcome achieved through comprehensive stakeholder engagement at all levels.

We have invested heavily in earthworks and revegetation to rehabilitate sites but we continue to experience disturbances of rehabilitated land by artisanal miners. Of a total of 532.34 ha rehabilitated at Siguiri, 115.61 ha has been disturbed by artisanal mining activities. About 160 ha of the total area has been used in a project to create other avenues for income and cashew trees have been planted as part of a cashew farm project.

We are working to limit ASM risk at Siguiri and have initiated a multi-stakeholder ASM formalisation process, which is being led by the Guinean government. The Siguiri Social and Security project aims to address ASM/illegal mining, community upliftment and associated activities. During 2020, Siguiri made positive progress, evidenced by ongoing positive dialogue and minimal business disruptions.

In Tanzania, Ghana, Mali and Colombia, we are part of ongoing multi-stakeholder initiatives to advance co-existence and formalisation.

Our approach is aligned to the Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development 2013 policy framework, and its 2017 guidance document to help governments implement strategies to regulate ASM.

To achieve advances in formalisation and reduce the risk to people and our business, we will continue to cooperate with governments, communities, civil society, the private sector and international bodies, focusing on dialogue with all stakeholders, with the goal of helping to support sustainable futures for communities around our operations.

Our performance

Indicator 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
Fatalities and injuries to community members whilst engaged in illegal activity, and not related to security interventions
Number of sites/operations where ASM takes place adjacent or near the mine1111111111

Policies and standards