11 August, 2017 Martie Steyn

MEET OUR METAL: GOLD

At the core of AngloGold Ashanti’s business is the responsible extraction of a rare and beautiful element that occurs naturally on the planet. It is number 79 on the periodic table: Au, or otherwise known as Gold.
In its purest form, gold is a bright yellow and malleable metal. It is durable and scarce; and although it can be very hard to destroy, it is easy to shape. It is likely that all the gold ever mined in the history of the world is still in existence today – a gold coin, by its physical properties alone, is still as valuable today as in ancient times.

Gold has a rich and complex history. It has seen the rise and fall of many civilizations, sought both for its value as a currency and its beauty as adornment. Gold is thought to have been produced in a supernova from the rare collision of two neutron stars and deposited on earth approximately 4 billion years ago through asteroid impacts in the earth’s crust and mantle. Thus, the gold jewellery you wear can be thought of as owning a souvenir from one of the most powerful explosions in the history of the universe.

Apart from its value, gold has also found purpose in the 21st century in various modern applications. Gold is an excellent conductor, and as a result one of its primary uses today is the fabrication of corrosion-free electrical connectors in computers and other devices. The typical mobile phone contains approximately 50mg of gold and with global manufacturing estimated at one billion mobile phones each year, that’s a significant amount of gold required to keep us all connected. Gold is also a good reflector of electromagnetic radiation such as infrared and radio waves and is used as protective coatings for satellites, thermal protection suits and astronaut’s equipment. Since the metal can be manufactured to be so thin that it appears transparent, gold is also used in certain aircraft cockpit windows for de-icing windows at high altitude by passing an electrical current through it.

Another application is gold leaf – the metal is hammered into ultra-thin sheets and used for gilding in artwork and architecture. Gold is also used in cuisine as decoration in the form of gold leaf, flakes or dust. When used as an additive to food, gold has the number E175. It is flavourless, and has been used as an additive for medicinal purposes for centuries. More recently, gold has also found a role in the treatment of disease through advances in nanotechnology. Gold nanoparticles are already at the heart of Rapid Diagnostic Tests for diseases such as malaria, while research is currently being extended for its application in early detection of HIV/AIDS and certain cancers.

The investment case for gold remains strong. While it is no longer at the forefront of everyday transactions, it is still important to the global economy. Organisations such as central banks and other financial institutions hold approximately one-fifth of the world’s mined gold. It has successfully preserved wealth through thousands of generations and is still considered a safe haven during times of political and economic uncertainty.

Through responsible mining, gold and its associated activities have a transformative effect on the socio-economic development of the countries where it’s found. It provides employment opportunities, improved infrastructure and tax revenues while also driving foreign direct investment and generating foreign exchange.

At AngloGold Ashanti, our business values guide our behaviour towards making a positive impact. We are proud of our metal and its capacity to capture the hearts and minds of people, and continuously seek to deliver shared value through safely exploring and mining this rare and precious metal.