As the new Chair of AngloGold Ashanti’s SES Committee, I am reassured by the Company’s evolution and maturity of sustainability reporting, and that its values underpin sustainable development across the various jurisdictions in which we operate.
COVID-19 has been a game changer for countries and companies all over the world, and certainly so for the countries in which we operate, and for our Company. I am particularly pleased at the way in which AngloGold Ashanti has risen to the significant challenges that the pandemic has brought, to our operations, our employees and their families and our communities. We have done so in such a way that has strengthened our cooperation within the countries in which we operate and ensured the resilience of our operations and people in the time to come.
The pandemic has re-shaped corporate sustainability agendas. But, more than that, it has demonstrated that companies that are actively concerned with environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues – ranging from how companies treat their employees and the impact of climate change, to the integrity and sustainability of supply chains and the resilience and sustainability of host communities – will outperform those that do not. This is no coincidence: Governments and investors alike are alive to the fact that ESG should be an integral part of any company’s strategy. And when that company is resource intensive such as a mining company, when its very being in a single location has a defined time limit, and when it operates in regions which are often remote and under-serviced in fundamental services, then that responsibility is amplified.
This 2020 Sustainability Report will demonstrate the way in which AngloGold Ashanti strives to meet its statutory obligations, and our long-held commitments to uphold our values, and to long-term value creation.
Governance and transparency
As someone particularly committed to the promotion of governance and transparency, I am assured by the checks and balances that AngloGold Ashanti has in place. It will be my role as SES Committee Chair to ensure these standards are maintained and improved upon where necessary, in line with everchanging political environments and regulatory frameworks.
The SES Committee, working in concert with other sub-committees of the board of directors, monitors compliance with codes and principles we subscribe to, including the UN Global Compact, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) and others, insisting on good governance.
AngloGold Ashanti’s policies and codes of practice cover a wide array of areas, including measures to prevent any impropriety in our own financial remittances from our operating countries, and others aimed at advancing local procurement and acquisition and the development of local talent in the countries in which we operate.
We are also subject to annual third-party audits and are a member of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) Tax Working Group which advocates the adoption of a Global Sustainability Standards Board. It aims to develop specific disclosures related to tax and payments to governments, with significant proposals including the GRI standards on tax reporting.
Health and safety paramount
The health and safety of our employees is our first priority. Our health teams across our sites moved swiftly to introduce new protocols, screening and testing, and care for those who were affected as a result of COVID-19, guided by a central task team that for many months met on a daily basis. It is with great sadness that we report that 13 employees succumbed to COVID-19 in 2020.
We have made significant inroads improving safety across our operations, but we will not cease our efforts until we have eliminated all fatal accidents at work. It is with great sadness and regret that we report that in 2020, six people lost their lives at AngloGold Ashanti’s operations. Our heartfelt condolences go out to their families and friends.
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) remains firm. These address the main challenges facing the global community, including those related to poverty and social exclusion, environmental degradation and climate change. At AngloGold Ashanti, concrete attention is given to SDGs such as increasing local added value, creation of linkages with local industry, investments in local infrastructure, skills and technology transfer, as well as diversification of local economies. Evidence of this abounds in the jurisdictions in which we operate. We also fully subscribe to the UN call that we must build back better as we emerge from this pandemic.
I personally contributed to the World Gold Council report on Gold mining’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which used qualitative data from case studies to report progress towards the SDGs for its members in the gold mining industry. It is very pleasing that AngloGold Ashanti’s contributions are well represented and recognised in this document, that show readers what we are doing rather than simply telling them. Similarly, throughout this report, we detail what we are doing and not just want we want to do.
Diversity and inclusion
There is one other particular area that I feel deserves particular mention this year, and that is our efforts towards diversity and inclusion. We are working to build a business where all our employees count and are valued.
Our Global Women’s Forum held its first Diversity and Inclusion virtual conference in the year, updating on diversity and inclusion work. Several initiatives and programmes across the organisation highlight the acceleration of the inclusion of women into various functions of the organisations.
In this role, I hope to move forward with the good work championed by the former Chair Ms Nozipho January-Bardill, who worked relentlessly to see sustainability and sustainable development placed at the heart of the Company.
I look forward to working with the SES Committee and guiding it in its oversight of sustainability and ESG matters, monitoring sustainability practices in the areas of climate change, community social investment, employment equity, diversity and inclusion, localisation, safety and health, and governance and compliance.