Reserves & Resources
Rights to mine & title to properties (PDF - 59 KB)
Rights to mine and title to properties
AngloGold Ashanti's rights to own and exploit mineral reserves and deposits are governed by the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which the mineral properties are located. In a number of countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates there are, in some cases, certain restrictions in terms of the group's ability to independently move assets out of that country and/or transfer the assets within the group, without the prior consent of the local government or minority shareholders involved.
According to Argentinian mining legislation, mines are the private property of the nation or a province, depending on where they are located. Individuals are empowered to explore for, exploit and dispose of mines as owners by means of a legal licence granted by a competent authority under the provisions of the Argentine Mining Code. The legal licences granted for the exploitation of mines are valid for an undetermined period, provided that the mining title holder complies with the obligations settled in the Argentine Mining Code. In Argentina, the usual ways of transferring rights over mining licences are: to sell the licence; to lease such licence; or to assign the rights under such a licence by a beneficial interest or Usufruct Agreement. In the case of Cerro Vanguardia AngloGold Ashanti's operation in Argentina the mining title holder is its partner, Formicruz, and due to the Usufruct Agreement signed between them and Cerro Vanguardia SA on 27 December 1996, the latter has the irrevocable right to the exploitation of the deposit for a period of 40 years. This agreement expires on 27 December 2036.
In Australia, with few exceptions, all onshore mineral rights are reserved by the government of the relevant state or territory. Exploration for, and mining of, minerals is regulated by the general mining legislation and controlled by the mining ministry of each respective State or Territory.
Where native title has not been extinguished, native title legislation may apply to the grant of tenure and some subsequent administrative processes. Federal and State Aboriginal heritage legislation also operates to protect special sites and areas from disturbance although to date there has not been any adverse impact on any of AngloGold Ashanti's operating properties.
AngloGold Ashanti's operating properties are located in the state of Western Australia. The most common forms of tenure are exploration and prospecting licences, mining leases and general purpose leases. In most Australian states, if the holder of an exploration licence establishes indications of an economic mineral deposit and complies with the conditions of the grant, the holder of the exploration licence has a priority right against all others to apply for a mining lease which gives the holder exclusive mining rights with respect to minerals on the property.
It is possible for an individual or entity to own the surface of the property and for another individual or entity to own the mineral rights. Typically the maximum initial term of a mining lease is 21 years, and the holder has the right to renew the lease for a further period of 21 years. Subsequent renewals are subject to the discretion of the respective State or Territory's minister responsible for mining rights. Mining leases can only be assigned with the consent of the relevant minister.
Government royalties are payable as specified in the relevant legislation in each State or Territory. A general purpose lease may also be granted for one or more of a number of permitted purposes. These purposes include erecting, placing and operating machinery and plant in connection with mining operations, depositing or treating minerals or tailings and using the land for any other specified purpose directly connected with mining operations.
AngloGold Ashanti owns the mineral rights and has 21-year term mining leases with rights of renewal to all of its mining areas in Australia, including its proportionate share of joint venture operations, and both the group and its joint venture partners are fully authorised to conduct operations in accordance with relevant laws and regulations. The mining leases and rights of renewal cover the current life of mine at AngloGold Ashanti's operations in Australia.
In Brazil, there are two basic mining rights:
In general, exploration licences are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. Mining concessions are granted to the holders of exploration licences that manage to prove the existence of a mineral resource and have been licensed by the environmental competent authority.
Mine Manifests (mining titles granted in 1936) and Mining Concessions (mining titles presently granted through an order signed by the Secretary of Mines of the Ministry of Mines and Energy) are valid for an undetermined period until depletion of reserves, provided that the mining title holder complies with current Brazilian mining and environmental legislation, as well as with those requirements set out by the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM) who acts as inspecting entity for mining activities. Obligations of the titleholder include:
The difference between a Mine Manifest and a Mining Concession lies in the legal nature of these two mining titles, since it is much more difficult and complicated for the public administration to withdraw a Mine Manifest than a Mining Concession although, in practice, it is possible for a Manifest to be cancelled or to become extinct if the abandonment of the mining operation is formally proven. All of AngloGold Ashanti's operations in Brazil have indefinite mining licences.
Mining activities in Ghana are primarily regulated by the Minerals and Mining Law 1986 (PNDCL 153) or the Mining Law. Under the Constitution and the Mining Law, all minerals in Ghana in their natural state are the property of the State and title to them is vested in the President on behalf of and in trust for the people of Ghana, with rights of prospecting, recovery and associated land usage being granted under licence or lease.
A licence is required for the export or disposal of such minerals and the government has a right of pre-emption over all such minerals. The government of Ghana shall acquire, without payment, a 10% interest in the rights and obligations of the mineral operations in relation to a mineral right to reconnaissance, prospecting or mining, and shall have the option to acquire a further 20% interest where any mineral is discovered in commercial quantities, on terms agreed between the government and the holder of the mining lease subject to arbitration if the parties fail to agree.
A licence or lease granting a mineral right is required to prospect for or mine a mineral in Ghana and the Minister of Energy and Mines has the power to negotiate, grant, revoke, suspend or renew any mineral right, subject to a power of disallowance exercisable within 30 days of such grant, revocation, suspension or renewal by the Cabinet. The powers of the Minister of Mines are to be exercised on the advice of the Minerals Commission, which is responsible for regulating and managing the utilisation of natural resources and co-ordinating policies relating to them.
The grant of a mining lease by the Minister of Mines is normally subject to parliamentary ratification unless the mining lease falls into a class of transactions exempted by parliament. A mineral right is deemed a requisite and sufficient authority over the land in respect of which the right is granted, although a separate licence is required for some other activities, including the diversion of water, and additional consents may be required for certain developments. A mineral right or interest therein may not be transferred, assigned or otherwise dealt with in any other manner without prior written approval of the Minister of Mines.
Control of mining companies: The Minister of Mines has the power to object to a person becoming or remaining a ''shareholder controller'', a ''majority shareholder controller'' or an ''indirect controller'' of a company which has been granted a mining lease if he considers that the public interest would be prejudiced by the person concerned becoming or remaining such a controller. In this context:
A person may not become a shareholder controller, a majority shareholder controller or an indirect controller of a mining company unless he has served written notice on the Minister of Mines of his intention to that effect and the Minister of Mines consents to his becoming such a controller or does not object within a period of six months.
Where a person becomes or continues to be a controller of the relevant description after a notice of objection has been served on him, or is otherwise in contravention of the procedures prescribed by the Mining Law, the Minister of Mines may notify the controller that, until further notice, any specified shares are subject to restrictions. The relevant restrictions include restrictions on transfer, voting rights, receipt of further shares and distributions. The Minister of Mines may apply to the High Court to order the sale of any shares which are the subject of such a restriction. There is no legal restriction on the foreign ownership of a mining company.
Where a person, either alone or with others, acquires an interest in 5% or more of the voting power of a mining company he is required to notify the Minister of Mines. A person who is a controller of a mining company must give notice of his ceasing to be such a controller before he disposes of his interest. In addition, the mining company itself has to give notice to the Minister of Mines of the fact that any person has become or ceased to be a controller.
Violation of these provisions of the Mining Law is a criminal offence. The law also gives the Minister of Mines power to investigate and report on the ownership and control of any mining company. The Mining Law also gives the government the right to acquire a special share (Golden Share) in a mining company in order to protect the assets of the relevant company and to reflect and further the intentions of the provisions of the Mining Law relating to control of a mining company. The government has retained its Golden Share in relation to AngloGold Ashanti's assets and operations in Ghana.
Prior to the business combination between AngloGold and Ashanti, AngloGold and the government of Ghana agreed the terms of a Stability Agreement to govern certain aspects of the fiscal and regulatory framework under which AngloGold Ashanti would operate in Ghana following the implementation of the business combination.
Payments and allowances: The Mining Law provides that royalties are payable by the holder of a mining lease to the State at rates of between 3% and 12% of total minerals revenue, depending on a formula set out in mineral royalty regulations. The formula is determined by calculating the ratio of revenue minus operating costs, interest and capital allowances to total revenue. A ratio of 30% or lower will attract a royalty of 3%. For every 1% that the ratio exceeds 30%, the amount of the royalty will increase by 0.0225% up to a maximum of 12%. The laws of Ghana currently provide for income tax at a rate of 25%. The Mining Law provides for an entitlement to certain specified capital allowances and various additional fiscal and other benefits. AngloGold Ashanti and the government of Ghana have entered into the Stability Agreement with respect to the payment of royalties and taxes as detailed previously.
Under the Stability Agreement, the government of Ghana agreed:
The government of Ghana also agreed that AngloGold Ashanti's Ghanaian operations will not be adversely affected by any new enactments or orders or by changes to the level of payments of any customs or other duties relating to mining operations, taxes, fees and other fiscal imports or laws relating to exchange control, transfer of capital and dividend remittance for a period of 15 years after the completion of the business combination. In consideration of these agreements and undertakings, AngloGold Ashanti issued to the government of Ghana 2,658,000 ordinary shares and paid to the government of Ghana $5 million in cash, promptly after the implementation of the business combination. AngloGold Ashanti also paid to the government of Ghana, on the date of the completion of the business combination, an additional $5 million in cash towards the transaction costs incurred by the government of Ghana in its role as regulator.
In 2002, the Ghanaian tax legislation was changed so that unutilised losses and capital allowances existing at 1 January 2001 can only be carried forward for five years. If not used by that time they will be lost. Losses and capital allowances incurred after 1 January 2001 can be carried forward without limit.
Retention of foreign earnings: Holders of mining leases have certain limited rights to retain foreign exchange earnings overseas and to use such earnings for the acquisition of machinery and equipment as well as for certain other payments, such as debt service payments and dividends. Where the net earnings of a holder of a mining lease are in foreign currency, the holder is permitted to retain not less than 25% of foreign exchange earnings in an external bank account for acquiring machinery and equipment, spare parts and raw materials as well as for certain other payments, such as dividend and debt service payments.
AngloGold Ashanti's operations in Ghana are permitted to retain 80% of its foreign exchange earnings in such an account. In addition, the company has permission from the Bank of Ghana to retain and use, outside of Ghana, dollars required to meet payments to the company's hedge counterparties which cannot be met from the cash resources of its treasury company.
Leases: Mining leases may be applied for either by a prospecting licence holder who has established the existence of minerals in commercial quantities or by others who do not hold such licences, who establish the same to the satisfaction of the Minister of Mines. Mining leases are normally granted for a period not exceeding 30 years and the holder may apply to the Minister of Mines for renewal, on such conditions as the Minister of Mines may determine, for up to another 30 years. This period has been extended in terms of the Stability Agreement. They are to have a maximum size (subject to derogation by the President where it is considered to be in the national interest) of 50 square kilometres for any grant and 150 square kilometres in aggregate.
A holder may apply for an enlargement of the mining area, which, subject to the Mining Law, the Minister of Mines may grant if satisfied that such approval is in the national interest. The rights conferred by mining leases include those to take all reasonable measures on or under the surface to mine the mineral to which the mining lease relates, to erect necessary equipment, plant and buildings, to prospect within the mining area and to stack or dump mineral waste in an approved manner.
Reconnaissance and prospecting licences are normally granted for up to 12 months and three years respectively, subject to renewal. A detailed programme must be submitted for the recruitment and training of Ghanaians with a view to achieving 'localisation', being the replacement of expatriate personnel by Ghanaian personnel. In addition, the holder must give preference to Ghanaian products and personnel, to the maximum extent possible, consistent with safety, efficiency and economies.
Prior notification to the Minister of Mines is required for ceasing, suspending or curtailing production. Approval to such actions may be given, subject to conditions determined on the advice of the Minerals Commission.
There are also provisions relating to surrender, suspension and cancellation of mineral rights in certain circumstances. The Minister of Mines may suspend or cancel a mineral right if, among other things, the holder:
Except as otherwise provided in a specific mining lease, all immovable assets of the holder under the mining lease vest in the State on termination, as does all moveable property that is fully depreciated for tax purposes. Moveable property that is not fully depreciated is to be offered to the State at the depreciated cost. The holder must exercise his rights subject to such limitations relating to surface rights as the Minister of Mines may prescribe. Subject to the proper conduct of the mining operations, the holder must affect as little as possible the interest of any lawful occupier, whose grazing rights are retained but who is precluded from erecting any building without the consent of the holder (or, if such consent is unreasonably withheld, without the consent of the Minister).
An owner or occupier of any land subject to a mineral right may apply to the holder of the mineral right for compensation and the amount of the compensation shall, subject to the approval of the Land Valuation Board, be determined by agreement between the parties concerned (or, if they are unable to reach agreement, by the Minister of Mines in consultation with the Land Valuation Board). The Land Valuation Board has in the past increased amounts of compensation payable to owners and occupiers. The holder, in the exercise of his rights, is required to have due regard to the effect of the mineral operations on the environment and is to take such steps as may be necessary to prevent pollution of the environment as a result of such operations.
A range of activities and breaches of the Mining Law, including obstructing the government from exercising its pre-emption right and conducting mining, prospecting or related activities other than in accordance with the Mining Law, constitute offences punishable by fine or imprisonment. The maximum fine is 500,000 cedis (at the current exchange rate, equivalent to approximately $50) and the maximum term of imprisonment is two years.
Mining properties: The current mining lease for the Obuasi area was granted by the government of Ghana on 5 March 1994. It grants mining rights to land with an area of approximately 334 square kilometres in the Amansie East and Adansi West districts of the Ashanti region for a term of 30 years from the date of the agreement. In addition, the application for a mining lease over the adjacent 140 square kilometres has also been granted resulting in the total area under mining lease conditions increasing to 474 square kilometres, the Lease Area. The company is required to pay to the government of Ghana rent (subject to review every five years, when the rent may be increased by up to 20%) at a rate of approximately $5 per square kilometres and such royalties as are prescribed by legislation, including royalties on timber felled within the Lease Area.
Bibiani had title to a 50 square kilometres mining lease for a period of 30 years to 18 May 2027. The terms and conditions of the lease are consistent with similar leases granted in respect of Obuasi. With effect from 1 October 2001, the Bibiani mining lease was transferred to Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited from Ashanti Goldfields (Bibiani) Limited.
Iduapriem has title to a 33 square kilometres mining lease granted on 19 April 1989 for a period of 30 years. The terms and conditions of the lease are consistent with similar leases granted in respect of the Obuasi mining lease.
Teberebie has two leases, one granted in February 1998 for a term of 30 years, and another granted in June 1992 for a term of 26 years. The terms and conditions of these leases are consistent with similar leases granted in respect of the Obuasi mining lease.
Proposed amendment to Mining Law: A Minerals and Mining Act (the Act) has been enacted by the parliament of Ghana. If the Act receives Presidential Assent it will repeal and replace the Minerals and Mining Law. For the most part the Act consolidates with modifications to the existing law.
The key material modifications to the current regime proposed in the Act are:
In Guinea, all mineral substances are the property of the State. Mining activities are primarily regulated by the Mining Code, 1995. The right to undertake mining operations can only be acquired by virtue of one of the following mining titles: surveying permit, small-scale mining licence, mining prospecting licence, mining licence or mining concession.
The holders of mining titles are guaranteed the right to dispose freely of their assets and to organise their enterprises as they wish, the freedom to engage and discharge staff in accordance with the regulations in force, free movement of their staff and their products throughout Guinea and freedom to dispose of their products in international markets.
The group's Guinea subsidiary, Société Ashanti Goldfields de Guinée SA (SAG), has title to the Siguiri mining concession area which was granted on 11 November 1993 for a period of 25 years. The agreement provides for an eventual extension/renegotiation after 23 years for such periods as may be required to exhaust economic Ore Reserves.
The original area granted encompassed 8,384 square kilometres which the subsidiary was required to reduce to five or fewer single blocks of not less than 250 square kilometres per block totalling not more than 1,500 square kilometres by 11 November 1996. The retrocession reduced the Siguiri concession area to four blocks totalling 1,495 square kilometres.
SAG has the exclusive right to explore and mine in the remaining Siguiri concession area for a further 22-year period from 11 November 1996 under conditions detailed in a Convention de Base predating the new Guinea Mining Code.
Key elements of the Convention de Base are:
The Convention de Base is subject to early termination if both parties formally and expressly agree to do so, if all project activities are voluntarily suspended for a continuous period of eight months or are permanently abandoned by our subsidiary or if SAG goes into voluntary liquidation or is placed into liquidation by a court of competent jurisdiction.
In addition to the export tax payable to the government of Guinea, a royalty on production may be payable to the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and to Umicore SA, formerly Union Miniere (UM). Pursuant to the option agreement between UM and Golden Shamrock Mines Limited (GSM), a royalty on production may be payable to UM by Chevaning Mining Company Limited (CMC) or GSM, which payment obligation has been assigned to AngloGold Ashanti (Ghana) Limited, on a sliding scale of between 2.5% and 7.5%, based on the spot gold price per ounce between $350 and $475, subject to indexing from 1 January 1995, to a cumulative maximum of $60 million. In addition, under the terms of the restructuring agreement with the IFC, a sliding scale royalty on production may be payable to the IFC calculated on the same basis but at half the rate payable to UM, to a maximum of $7.8 million.
Mineral rights in Mali are governed by the Mining Act and Regulations promulgated in 1991. Exploration is carried out under permits granted by Ministerial Decree following application to the National Director of Geology and Mines from the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water conveying exclusive title to conduct exploration. The permit is valid for a three-year period and is renewable twice. A company applying (in an area it selected) for such a permit must provide proof of technical and financial capabilities.
An exploitation permit is required to mine a deposit located within the exploration area. This permit grants exclusive title to mine for a maximum period of 30 years (inclusive of renewals) and is granted by the Council of Ministers following application to the National Director of Mines.
Both permits referred to above include a Mining Convention (Convention d'Etablissement) covering exploration, mining, treatment and marketing in a comprehensive document. This outlines the general conditions with regard to exploration (work programme, fiscal and customs regime) and exploitation (formation of a local limited liability company and mining company, state shareholdings, the fiscal and customs regime during construction and exploitation phases, exchange controls, marketing of the product, accounting regime, training programmes for local labour, protection of the environment, reclamation, safety, hygiene and settlement of disputes).
Application for an exploration permit is submitted to the National Director of Mines based on various documents, including applicant identification, locations, receipts for payment of fixed rights and surface fees, and articles of association, together with a draft mining convention. An inter-ministerial committee examines the applications and one company is retained to do the exploration. This company then negotiates a draft of the Mining Convention and the Minister of Mines grants the exploration permit by an in-house decree published in the Malian Gazette.
Once an economically viable deposit has been identified, an application for an exploitation permit is submitted to the National Director of Mines. This application must be made prior to the expiry of the exploration permit. The application document must contain a map and co-ordinates, a receipt for payment of fixed rights and surface fees and a summary of technical and financial capabilities. The exploitation title is granted following a thorough investigation.
AngloGold Ashanti has complied with all applicable requirements and the relevant permits have been issued. Morila, Sadiola and Yatela have 30-year permits which expire in 2029, 2024 and 2030, respectively.
Mineral rights in Namibia vest in the State. In order to prospect or mine, the Ministry of Mines and Energy initially grants a prospecting licence and on presentation of a feasibility study, a mining licence is then granted taking into account the abilities of the company, including mining, financial and technical capabilities, rehabilitation programmes and payment of royalties. The relevant licence has been granted to AngloGold Namibia (Pty) Ltd in respect of its mining and prospecting activities in Namibia. The current 15-year licence expires in 2018.
The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act: In October 2002, the President of South Africa assented to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), which was passed by the Parliament of South Africa in June 2002 and came into effect on 1 May 2004. The MPRDA vests custodianship of South Africa's mineral rights in the State, which will issue prospecting rights or mining rights to applicants in the future. Details relating to the MPRDA and the associated broad-based socio-economic empowerment charter and related scorecard, as well as AngloGold Ashanti's progress in converting existing rights in terms of the new legislation, are set out on page 103 and 104.
Mineral rights in the United Republic of Tanzania are governed by the Mining Act of 1998, and property and control over minerals are vested in the United Republic of Tanzania. Prospecting for the mining of minerals, except petroleum, may only be conducted under authority of a mineral right granted by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals under this Act.
The three types of mineral rights most often encountered, which are also those applicable to AngloGold Ashanti, are:
A prospecting licence grants the holder thereof the exclusive right to prospect in the area covered by the licence for all minerals, other than building and gemstones, for a period of three years. Thereafter, the licence is renewable for two further periods of two years each. On each renewal of a prospecting licence, 50% of the area covered by the licence must be relinquished. Before application is made for a prospecting licence, a prospecting reconnaissance licence for a maximum area of 5,000 square kilometres is issued for a period of two years after which a three-year prospecting licence is applied for. A company applying for a prospecting licence must, inter alia, state the financial and technical resources available to it. A retention licence can also be requested from the Minister, after the expiry of the 3-2-2-year prospecting licence period, for reasons ranging from funds to technical considerations.
Mining is carried out through either a mining licence or a special mining licence, both of which confer on the holder thereof the exclusive right to conduct mining operations in or on the area covered by the licence. A mining licence is granted for a period of 10 years and is renewable for a further period of 10 years. A special mining licence is granted for a period of 25 years and is renewable for a further period of 25 years. If the holder of a prospecting licence has identified a mineral deposit within the prospecting area which is potentially of commercial significance, but it cannot be developed immediately by reason of technical constraints, adverse market conditions or other economic factors of a temporary character, it can apply for a retention licence which will entitle the holder thereof to apply for a special mining licence when it sees fit to proceed with mining operations.
A retention licence is valid for a period of five years and is thereafter renewable for a single period of five years. A mineral right may be freely assigned by the holder thereof to another person, except for a mining licence, which must have the approval of the Ministry to be assigned.
However, this approval requirement for the assignment of a mining licence will not apply if the mining licence is assigned to an affiliate company of the holder or to a financial institution or bank as security for any loan or guarantee in respect of mining operations.
A holder of a mineral right may enter into a development agreement with the Ministry to guarantee the fiscal stability of a long-term mining project and make special provision for the payment of royalties, taxes, fees and other fiscal imposts.
AngloGold Ashanti has complied with all applicable requirements and the relevant licences have been issued for 25 years and expire in 2024.
United States of America
Mineral rights, as well as surface rights, in the United States are owned by private parties, state governments and the federal government. Most land prospective for precious metals exploration, development and mining are owned by the federal government and are obtained through a system of self-initiated mining claim location pursuant to the General Mining Law of 1872, as amended.
Individual states typically follow a lease system for state-owned minerals. Private parties have the right to sell, lease or enter into other agreements, such as joint ventures, with respect to minerals that they own or control. All mining activities, regardless of whether they are situated on privately- or publicly-owned lands, are regulated by a myriad of federal, state and local laws, regulations, rules and ordinances, which address various matters including environmental protection, mitigation and rehabilitation.
Authorisations and permits setting forth the activities and restrictions pertaining thereto are issued by the responsible governmental agencies for all phases of mining activities.
The Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Company joint venture consists almost entirely of owned patented mining claims from public lands, with a small percentage of private and state lands being leased. The total area of control is approximately 7,100 acres. Patented claims vest ownership in the holder, including the right to mine for an indefinite tenure. All life of mine reserves are within these property controls. The mining and rehabilitation permits issued by the State of Colorado are life of mine permits.
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