In his letter in the 2006 Report to Society, my predecessor, Bobby Godsell, wrote that at the heart of this company is the idea of being a good steward: that is, to take the resources we have been entrusted to manage and use them to create value – for our owners, our employees and the national economies and communities in which we operate.
Those sentiments remain the same today. We will continue to build our platform for sustainable business based on the application of these principles. To further support our endeavours we have recognised that “people are the business our business is people”. By people, I mean the 62,000 people who are employed at our operations in 10 countries around the world, and their families; the many thousands of people who directly and indirectly are shareholders in our company and rely on our wealth generation in planning for their future; and the many more thousands of people whom I would call our business partners - who in some way have an interest in our business, directly or indirectly. We, together, represent and are AngloGold Ashanti.
Our business partners – or, as many people would call them, our stakeholders – have a real and meaningful interest in whether or not we operate, whether we pay our taxes, and whether we act responsibly and with care in their neighbourhoods. This is not a passive relationship, it is one in which we need to establish and maintain dialogue. We need to listen and hear the real concerns and aspirations of our partners. We need to speak the truth in a respectful and sensitive way; respectful of the culture and the different worlds in which we operate.
This report is an account of how well we are doing and where we need to develop and improve. In it, we seek to report openly on how we have performed during the year against the business principles that we have established, the values that we want to live up to and the material challenges we face.
In the six months that I have been with the company I have visited more than three quarters of our mines around the world and have engaged in some of the conversations that we have held at and around our operations. Many of these have been about the performance of our assets, about how we can extract value out of the resources that we have in the ground. Most importantly, more of these conversations have been about, and with, our own employees and employee representatives, with government and community leaders, and with other business partners. In all of these encounters our approach is simple: if we do not understand the problem, then we ask the people who are living with it. This captures our approach on a wide range of issues, from safety and health where we are engaging on a number of fronts to achieve a major breakthrough in performance, to artisanal and small-scale mining, where we need to find a form of cohabitation with people for whom such mining is their subsistence livelihood. Our relationship with our business partners will ultimately define our success and the sustainability of our business model.
The report covers the major issues that we face in the life cycle of our operations, from exploration to hand-over back to the community. It also shows clearly those that are most material to the company. In each area of reporting, we present a view of how we have fared against the objectives we set out in a scorecard in the previous report, how the issue is managed at a corporate and operational level, as well as the performance for the year under review and our objectives for the next year.
This report has been produced in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) G3 guidelines. As in prior years, the report has been independently assured by external auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers. But this year we have involved our own group internal audit to a greater degree, to ensure that we establish the necessary capacity for assurance within our own organisation so that the checks and balances are in place all year around, and not just once a year. It is our responsibility to ensure we manage every day of every year in the life cycle of our operations.
We have declared an [A+] level of reporting, having covered all of the issues required for this level, and having had the appropriate degree of third party assurance. A schedule of our reporting against the GRI aspects may be found under reporting in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In addition, we have reported on our compliance with the principles of the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM), the UN Global Compact, the Voluntary Principles and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), all of which are voluntary bodies to which we are affiliated or of which we are formal supporters.
This report cannot be a comprehensive account of all of our issues and performance at all of our operations and should be read in conjunction with our web-based report (which provides additional case studies from our operations and projects around the world) and the country and operational reports (which provide a more detailed account of performance). This year for the first time, we have produced reports on our activities in Colombia and the DRC where we are engaged in reconnaissance exploration.
There has been significant progress at an operational level against the objectives we have set and, as you would expect, there have been many challenges. My recommendations to the reader on specific areas of focus or change in this report are:
10 March 2008
AngloGold Ashanti Annual Report 2007 – Report to Society