I believe there is significant potential value to unlock. The best place to begin realising that potential is to ensure we’re doing the basics right – that means meeting our commitments, sharpening our operational performance, executing flawlessly on projects, extending the lives of our mines at a reasonable price, reducing costs and improving cash conversion.Alberto Calderon
Chief Executive Officer
Thank you for your support through what has been a challenging year for AngloGold Ashanti, our employees and our many stakeholders.
It is a great honour to be appointed CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, truly an iconic gold mining company endowed with high quality assets, great people, and an excellent balance sheet. These are the critical foundation stones upon which to build the long-term success of any mining company.
As I look at our portfolio, however, I believe there is significant value to unlock. The best place to begin realising that potential is to ensure we’re doing the basics right – that means meeting our commitments, sharpening our operational performance, executing flawlessly on projects, extending the lives of our mines at a reasonable price, reducing costs and improving cash conversion.
First, however, it was important for us to put in place a new, clear Operating Model and the organisational structure to support it. I spent significant time with the leadership team immediately after my appointment in September 2021, designing and communicating this new model. Its implementation began in early 2022.
The model locates functional support roles at only two places in the organisation – at the centre and the business units – rather than in three or four places previously. It also empowers the line, ensuring our revenue-producing assets are properly resourced with the skills and decision-making authority to safely deliver on their day-to-day plans. Specialist technical support is provided by the centre, as are the necessary policies and standards to which the business units must be held.
At its most basic level, the new Operating Model reduces waste and duplication through the elimination of 215 support roles at the mid- and senior management levels. But the benefit to the organisation is more profound, in that it ensures the right people are in the right place throughout the organisation and removes confusion created by what was a convoluted, top-heavy structure. Most importantly, though, this new Operating Model provides for clear accountability across the business.
I also moved to reinforce our leadership team with three key external appointments, adding significant experience in transformation, talent management, business improvement and mine planning, to an already seasoned group of existing executives.
Marcelo Godoy, was appointed Chief Technology Officer in November 2021 and he previously had a senior leadership role at Newmont. Lisa Ali joins on 1 April 2022 as Chief People Officer, after a long career in senior leadership roles at BP and most recently Newcrest. Terry Briggs, a 30-year veteran of the industry and previously Vice President: Planning at Newmont, joins as Chief Development Officer, also on 1 April 2022, with oversight of planning, exploration and business development.
With the right people now in place, we’re ideally positioned to focus on a step-change in performance through our Full Asset Potential Review. This is a true and tested process used by many of our larger peers in the mining sector, deploying subject matter specialists from within the business to identify – through an intensive three-month process – the gaps between the current and best possible performance of each of our sites.
Site management teams, involved every step of the way, are then accountable for delivery on the tasks that will close the performance gap.
As our new Chief Technology Officer, Marcelo, who led a similar process in his former role at Newmont, will oversee the Full Asset Potential review, starting with Sunrise Dam in February of 2022, followed by a further five sites before year end. The remaining sites will follow in 2023.
This exercise will give us clear, empirical data against which to measure the performance of each site, and upon which to base our future capital allocation and portfolio decisions.
Tier One * assets
It is vital that we realise the full potential of our Tier One mines in particular. Kibali continues to deliver excellent results, with strong margins and a robust mineral inventory. At Obuasi, underground mining resumed in October 2021 after operations had been voluntarily suspended in May 2021. Since then, the restart plan has tracked to schedule.
When Phase 3 construction is completed at the end of 2023, Obuasi will be positioned to produce 400,000oz to 450,000oz a year at an all-in sustaining cost (AISC) of $900/oz to $950/oz. With a life of more than 20 years, and operating metrics expected to improve still further in the second decade of its life as grades increase, this mine is a true rarity in the global gold sector. Ongoing capital reinvestment at Geita in Tanzania, where the Ore Reserve has more than doubled in the past four years, and Tropicana in Australia, will see improving production and cost profiles in coming years, ensuring these operations are recognised as the Tier One mines that they are.
The project pipeline has also been enhanced with the purchase of Corvus, which concluded post year-end in January 2022. The acquisition delivers a unique opportunity to expand our asset base in one of the world’s top ranking mining jurisdictions to create a meaningful new production base, with first gold output anticipated in three years.
At Quebradona, in Colombia, a feasibility study was completed during the year and the Mining Operations Licence was approved by Antioquia’s Mining Secretary. In November 2021, however, the Colombian Environmental Agency (ANLA) officially “archived” our environmental licence application, a decision that allows it to neither approve nor deny a permit.
We appealed that outcome in early 2022 to gain clarity on the specific information ANLA requires to make a final determination on our application. We will prepare a new environmental licence application accordingly and estimate this process is likely to add about 24 months to the licensing timeline.
While this delay is disappointing, we are focused on the long term and ultimately bringing to production one of the world’s most exciting new, long-life copper-gold projects. In this endeavour, we are encouraged by the continued support for its development. In particular Colombia’s national and regional leadership have expressed strong support for the project as an important replacement for thermal coal energy sales, which account for more than half of the country’s total exports. At the local level, community support continues to grow.
With our balance sheet significantly strengthened in recent years, we will continue to reinvest in our orebodies to increase Ore Reserve conversion, extend mine life, and improve mining flexibility. Over the past two years we’ve added 8.7Moz to our Ore Reserve, more than replacing depletion, at first quartile grades when compared to our peers. We also declared a maiden Mineral Resource of 3.4Moz at Silicon in Nevada. This success underscores the world-class quality of our exploration team which continues to add ounces into our inventory at a fraction of the acquisition cost that many of our peers are forced to spend to replenish their pipelines.
* A Tier One gold asset is an asset with an Ore Reserve potential to deliver a minimum 10-year life, annual production of at least 500,000 ounces of gold and total cash costs per ounce over the mine life that are in the lower half of the industry cost curve.
It’s clear that 2021 was beset by a slew of challenges, some exogenous and others related to sub-par operational execution, in the first half of the year in particular.
While the new Operating Model is aimed at addressing those shortcomings in a consistent way, it was encouraging to see our operating parameters at our mines stabilise in the second half of the year with a 12% production gain from our operating assets (excluding Obuasi) over the first half, partly offsetting rising costs related to COVID-19 and inflation impacts.
Aside from the continuing reinvestment, our costs also showed the significant impact of the approximately $140m in capital expenditure in 2021 that we invested in TSF compliance in Brazil. We see 2021 as a peak year for this tailings expenditure, which will continue to be material in 2022 – 2025 but will decline over time through to the end of 2025.
Still, we generated free cash flow of $104m, leaving our balance sheet in a solid position at year-end, with low gearing, strong liquidity and no near-term debt maturities.
Maintaining our overall social licence to operate is fundamental. Our primary objective is to operate the business free of injury and harm. We continue to respond to our host government and community needs, through direct investments and a healthy flow of taxes and royalties.
We ended the year with our all injury frequency rate at 2.14 injuries per million hours worked, which remains well below the ICMM member company average, and injury severity continues to decline. But none of this can detract from the fact that in 2021 we lost two of our colleagues and we extend our heartfelt condolences to their friends and families.
Carlos Machado Barbosa, 43 years old, lost his life in a tragic accident at our Serra Grande mine in Brazil. Carlos, a blaster at the mine, was fatally injured during a fall-of-ground incident in an underground stope on 16 February 2021.
Daniel Nuertey-Kwao Quaynortey, 46 years old, an employee of Obuasi contractor African Underground Mining Alliance, died in a geotechnical event at the Obuasi mine on 18 May 2021. Their loss clearly indicates that more work needs to be done and we are implementing a revitalised safety strategy, focused on the controls to eliminate major hazards.
We published our inaugural Climate Change Report during the year, in line with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. The report highlights our proactive and transparent approach to mitigating current and future climate risks and the measures we are taking to strengthen the climate resilience of our business, our value chain partners, host communities and the environment in which we operate.
We set our first decarbonisation targets in 2008 for a 30% reduction in GHG emissions intensity by 2022 with 2007 as the baseline year. We have exceeded that goal and the picture on absolute emissions – down 69% from the base – is even better. This year we joined our ICMM peers by committing to a target of net zero Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 2050 and, in partnership with our value chain partners, to set Scope 3 GHG reduction targets, if not by the end of 2023, as soon as possible thereafter. We are also working on new 2030 Scope 1 and 2 GHG emission targets.
I’d like to extend the Company’s sincere appreciation to our CFO Christine Ramon, who has chosen to retire to spend more time with her family after more than seven years with AngloGold Ashanti. Our thanks, too, to Sicelo Ntuli, former COO Africa, who left the Company to pursue other opportunities and to Graham Ehm, former Executive Vice President (EVP) Group Planning and Technical, who retired during the year.
I’d also like to thank AngloGold Ashanti’s Chair, Maria Ramos, for her support and counsel over these first months in my new role as I’ve moved to make significant changes to improve this Company’s long-term performance.
I firmly believe we are on the right path to take AngloGold Ashanti back to its place among the top gold mining companies, which is where it belongs. We are focused on ensuring we deliver excellent, consistent results and are directing the right resources to realise our full potential.
I extend my gratitude to all our stakeholders and thank you all for your support.
Chief Executive Officer
29 March 2022