LEADERSHIP & ACCOUNTABILITY
Corporate governance (PDF - 98.3KB)
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In 2004, AngloGold Ashanti continued to build on the solid corporate governance foundations laid down in previous years. AngloGold Ashanti is fully compliant with the South African King Code on Corporate Governance, 2002, (the King Code) except in a few areas where the company has chosen not to comply. Areas of non-compliance with the King Code are fully detailed below as required by the Listings Requirements of the JSE Securities Exchange South Africa (JSE). The company is fully compliant with applicable corporate governance requirements of the United States' Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Significant corporate governance milestones achieved during the year include:
The Board of Directors
AngloGold Ashanti is a controlled company with its parent company, Anglo American plc, holding more than 50% of the company's issued share capital and is therefore, not subject to the director independence requirements of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). The board comprises a unitary board structure of 15 directors who assume complete responsibility for the activities of the company, including the total risk management framework of the company. The board has a written charter that governs its powers, functions and responsibilities. The board contains the mix of skills, experience and knowledge required of a multinational gold company.
Directors' retirement follows a staggered process with one-third of the directors retiring every three years at the annual general meeting. A curriculum vitae of those directors standing for re-election is placed before shareholders at the AGM to help inform the process of re-election. The board is empowered by the company's articles of association to appoint new directors provided such appointees retire at the next AGM and stand for election by shareholders. A Nominations Committee has been established as a sub-committee of the board to help identify suitable candidates for appointment to the board.
At the annual general meeting held on 30 April 2004 Mr Ogilvie Thompson and Mr Oppenheimer both retired and were replaced by Mr Zim and Mr Thompson. The board also appointed Dr Jonah KBE as an additional member of the board and president of AngloGold Ashanti effective as from 1 May 2004. All new members were reviewed by the Nominations Committee prior to their appointment as directors.
The executive directors are appointed by the board to oversee the day-to-day running of the company through effective supervision of management. Executive directors are held accountable by regular reporting to the board, and their performance is measured against pre-determined criteria as well as the performance of their respective business units.
Only executive directors have contracts of employment with the company. There are no contracts of service between the directors and the company, or any of its subsidiaries that are terminable at periods of notice exceeding one year and requiring the payment of compensation. Non-executive directors do not hold service contracts with the company.
Non-executive directors provide the board with invaluable and balanced advice and experience that is independent of management and the executive. The presence of five independent directors on the board, and the critical role they play through representation on key committees such as the Audit and Corporate Governance, Nominations, Political Donations and Remuneration committees, together with their calibre, experience and standing within the company, ensures that the company's interests are served by impartial views that are separate of management and shareholders.
In terms of board policy, a director will qualify as being independent provided AngloGold Ashanti has not, over the preceding year, done business in excess of $10 million or 5% of the company's treasury business with the employer of that director. Furthermore, in compliance with JSE Listings Requirements an independent director must not be a representative of a shareholder who has the ability to control or materially influence management and/or the board; not have been employed by the company or be the spouse of a person employed by the company in an executive role in the past three years; not been an adviser to the company other than in the capacity as a director of the company; not be a material supplier, customer or have a material contractual relationship with the company; and be free of any relationship that could be seen to materially interfere with the independence of that person. All five independent directors complied with these requirements in 2004 and the board determined that such directors have no material relationship with AngloGold Ashanti.
The board, its sub-committees, and the directors all completed an evaluation process to review their effectiveness. The chairman of each committee and the chairman of the board led the process of evaluation of the committees and the board. The company secretary played a critical role in this process. The evaluation of each non-executive director's performance was led by the board chairman, while the assessment of the board chairman's performance was led by the deputy chairman of the board. The evaluation of the performance of executive directors is performed by the Remuneration Committee. For full details, see Remuneration Committee below.
A managing secretary and company secretary have been appointed to assist the board in its deliberations, informing members of their legal duties and ensuring, together with the executive directors and senior management that its resolutions are carried out. Together with the investor relations department, the company secretarial function also provides a direct communications link with investors and liaises with the company's share registrars on all issues affecting shareholders. The company secretarial function, in consultation with other departments, furthermore, provides mandatory information required by various regulatory bodies and stock exchanges on which the company is listed. The managing secretary and company secretary are responsible for compliance with all the statutory requirements in regard to the administration of the Share Incentive Scheme. The managing secretary and company secretary ensure that minutes of all shareholders', board and board committees' meetings are properly recorded in accordance with the South African Companies Act of 1973. The company secretarial function also plays a crucial role in the induction of new directors.
All members of the board have access to management and the records of the company, as well as to external professional advisers should the need arise.
Six board meetings took place during the course of 2004. All directors attended four of the board meetings. Mr Brayshaw and Mr Trahar were absent from one board meeting each. The non-executive directors met in January 2005 in the absence of executive directors and management.
AngloGold Ashanti does not permit directors and key employees (that is, employees having access to price sensitive information) to trade in company shares during closed periods. Directors and key employees are required to follow a formal process before trading in the company's shares. Closed periods are in effect prior to the publication of the quarterly, half-yearly and year-end results. Where appropriate, a closed period is also effective during periods where major transactions are being negotiated and a public announcement is imminent.
To facilitate the activities and deliberations of the board, the board has established a number of sub-committees, comprising members of the board, with written terms of reference governing the powers, functions and activities of each sub-committee. A description of each sub-committee is provided below.
Members of the board committees have access to management and the records of the company, as well as to external professional advisers should the need arise.
The Audit and Corporate Governance Committee
The Audit and Corporate Governance Committee, inclusive of its chairman, comprises four independent non-executive directors. As required by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the board has resolved that Mr Brayshaw is a financial expert. All members of the committee have considerable financial knowledge and experience to help oversee and guide the board and the company in respect of the audit and corporate governance disciplines. The board considers it unnecessary for the chief executive officer to attend meetings of the committee, but should rather attend by invitation from the chairman of the committee. The board has, further, considered that the board chairman possesses invaluable experience and knowledge warranting his membership of the committee.
The committee and the executive committee consider it unnecessary for the group internal audit manager to report administratively to the chief executive officer, and that she should rather report administratively to the finance director and functionally to the committee. The group internal audit manager has unrestricted access to the chief executive, the board chairman and the chairman of the committee, and is invited to attend and report on her department's activities at all committee meetings. The board is confident that the unfettered access of the group internal audit manager to key board members, and the direct and regular reporting to the committee, together with her calibre, experience and integrity, enables her to discharge her duties as required by law and in fulfilment of her obligations to the company. The function, duties and powers of the internal audit function, for which the group internal audit manager is responsible, is governed by a formal internal audit charter that has been approved by the committee.
The committee meets regularly with the external audit partner, the group's internal audit manager and the executive officer: corporate accounting, to review the audit plans of the internal and external auditors, to ascertain the extent to which the scope of the audit can be relied upon to detect weaknesses in internal controls and to review the quarterly and half-yearly financial results, significant legal matters affecting the company, the preliminary announcement of the annual results and the annual financial statements, as well as all statutory submissions of a financial nature, prior to approval by the board.
The committee is furthermore, responsible for:
The external auditors also meet with the committee members in the absence of management and the chief executive officer and chief financial officer.
The committee met on seven occasions during 2004. All members of the committee attended five of the meetings. Mrs Bradley and Mr Edey were each unable to attend one meeting of the committee.
The NYSE rules require that the board determine whether a member of the committee's simultaneous service on more than three public companies' audit committees impairs the ability of such a member to effectively serve on a listed company's audit committee. Mr Brayshaw, the chairman of the committee, is a member of nine other public companies' audit committees and is chairman of seven of them. Mrs Bradley is a member of four other public companies' audit committees and is the chairman of one of them. Mr Brayshaw is a retired managing partner and chairman of Deloitte & Touche, while Mrs Bradley, who is semi-retired, has considerable financial and accounting experience. The board is confident that the experience, calibre and integrity of both Mr Brayshaw and Mrs Bradley, together with their regular attendance and active contribution at meetings of the committee, demonstrate their commitment to the company's affairs and particularly to the deliberations of the committee.
The Employment Equity and Development Committee
The committee is responsible for overseeing the company's performance in respect of employment equity by taking into account the legal requirements of applicable legislation and monitoring targets set by the company. The committee is also responsible for skills development of employees in a manner that seeks to retain and develop talent, and to provide employees with the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge. Mr Zim was appointed as an additional member of the committee with effect from 1 August 2004. The committee met on four occasions during 2004. All members of the committee attended one meeting. Mr Godsell, Mr Nairn and Mr Zim were each unable to attend one meeting of the committee.
The Executive Committee
The committee is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day management of the company's affairs and for executing the decisions of the board. The Operations Committee, responsible for overseeing the operational performance of the company, is a sub-committee of the Executive Committee - see Other committees.
The Investment Committee
The committee is responsible for overseeing and reviewing strategic investments of the company. Mr Thompson and Dr Jonah were appointed as additional members of the committee with effect from 1 August and 26 July respectively. The committee met on two occasions during 2004. All members, or their designated alternates, attended one meeting of the committee. Mr Best and Mr Williams were unable to attend one meeting each.
The Market Development Committee
The committee has been established to extend the influence of AngloGold Ashanti as a major global gold company, in the development of a broader gold business, both nationally and internationally. Dr Jonah and Mr Zim were both appointed as additional members to the committee with effect from 1 August 2004. The committee met on four occasions during 2004. All members attended three meetings of the committee. Dr Motlatsi was unable to attend one meeting of the committee.
The Nominations Committee
The appointment of directors is a matter for the board as a whole but the committee is responsible for determining and recommending suitable candidates to the board. The fit and proper standards policy for directors guides this process. The committee is also responsible for establishing and reviewing succession plans for members of the board, and particularly that of the chief executive officer and board Chairman. The committee met on two occasions during 2004. Mr Trahar and Mr Brayshaw were each unable to attend one meeting of the committee.
The Political Donations Committee
The Political Donations Committee comprises three independent non-executive directors, and is chaired by the deputy chairman of the board. The committee determines the funding of political parties in South Africa in accordance with a formal policy adopted by the board on 29 April 2003 that sets the guiding principles for funding. The committee did not meet in 2004, as a decision on funding for both 2003 and 2004 was made in December 2003.
The Remuneration Committee
The Remuneration Committee is responsible for evaluating the performance of the executive directors and executive officers, and setting appropriate remuneration for such officers of the company. Full details of the company's remuneration philosophy, the committee's deliberations during 2004, the remuneration payments for all directors and information on the share incentive scheme are available in the Remuneration Report of this annual report. The performances of the executive directors are considered relative to the prevailing business climate, market conditions as well as annual evaluations to assess the level of achievement of key pre-determined objectives. Bonuses paid to executive directors are a reflection of the performance of each of the directors and the company as a whole. Executive directors have elected to receive no remuneration as directors of the company. The fees of non-executive directors are fixed by shareholders at the annual general meeting, and other than the fees they receive for their participation on board committees and an allowance for travelling internationally to attend board meetings, non-executive directors receive no further payments from the company. The committee met on five occasions during 2004. All members of the committee attended four of the meetings. Mr Oppenheimer (at the time still a member of the board) and Mr Trahar were each unable to attend one meeting of the committee.
The Safety, Health and Sustainable Development Committee
This committee is tasked with overseeing the company's performance in respect of safety, health and sustainable development, and for establishing targets in relation to each of these areas. Mr Thompson and Dr Jonah were appointed as additional members of the committee with effect from 1 August 2004. The committee met on four occasions during 2004. All members of the committee attended two of the meetings. Mr Godsell was unable to attend one meeting of the committee. Dr Motlatsi was unable to attend two meetings of the committee.
In addition to the committees of the board mentioned above, the executive committee has established a number of standing committees to oversee the day to day management of the company's affairs. The Finance Committee which meets on a regular basis, is chaired by the chief financial officer and comprises a number of executive officers and senior management in the financial and legal fields. It is tasked with monitoring all financial, legal and administrative aspects of the company's affairs. The Operations Committee meets on a monthly basis, is chaired by the Chief Operating Officer and comprises all executive officers of the company and regional heads. The committee monitors and reviews the operational performance of the company. The Treasury Committee is chaired by an independent director, Mr Brayshaw, and comprises executive officers and senior management in the financial and marketing disciplines. It is responsible for reviewing and evaluating market conditions, treasury operations and future hedging strategies.
Risk management and internal controls
The board has ultimate responsibility for the total risk management process within the group. The board reviews and approves the risk strategy and policies that are formulated by the executive directors and senior management. Management is accountable to the board and has established a group-wide system of internal control to manage significant group risk. This system assists the board in discharging its responsibility for ensuring that the wide range of risks associated with the group's global operations are effectively managed in support of the creation and preservation of shareholder wealth. The risk management policies are communicated to all relevant employees.
A full review of the risk, control and disclosure processes is undertaken annually to ensure that all additional requirements are incorporated into the system in the future. The systems are in place and the focus is on ensuring that the requirements of the King Code and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act are complied with timeously. In conducting its annual review of the effectiveness of risk management, the board considers the key findings from the ongoing monitoring and reporting process, management assertions and independent assurance reports. The board also takes account of material changes and trends in the risk profile, and considers whether the control system, including reporting, adequately supports the board in achieving its risk management objectives. The board furthermore, receives assurance from the Audit and Corporate Governance Committee, which derives its information, in part, from regular internal and external audit reports on risk and internal control throughout the group.
The company has a sound system of internal control, based on the group's policies and guidelines, in all material subsidiaries and joint ventures under its control. In respect of those entities in which AngloGold Ashanti does not have a controlling interest, the directors who represent AngloGold Ashanti on the boards of these entities, seek assurance that significant risks are being managed.
The board is satisfied that there is an ongoing process for identifying, evaluating and managing the significant risks and internal controls faced by the group and if any weaknesses are identified, these are promptly addressed.
The company's chief executive and chief financial officers are both required, in terms of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, to certify on Form 20-F that its financial statements present a true and fair view, in all material respects, of the company's financial position, cash flows and operational results, in accordance with relevant accounting standards. The certificates further provide that both officers are responsible for establishing and maintaining disclosure and internal controls and procedures for financial reporting. The certification process is pre-approved by the board of directors prior to filing of the Form 20-F with the SEC.
In this section references to AngloGold Ashanti are to AngloGold Ashanti Limited, or as appropriate, AngloGold Ashanti and its consolidated subsidiaries and associate companies.
The risk factors set forth in this document have been organised into three categories:
Risks related to the gold mining industry generally
The profitability of AngloGold Ashanti's operations and the cash flows generated by these operations, are significantly affected by changes in the market price for gold
The market price for gold can fluctuate. These fluctuations are caused by factors beyond AngloGold Ashanti's control, including:
The price of gold is often subject to sharp, short-term changes resulting from speculative activities. While the overall supply of and demand for gold can affect its market price, because of the considerable size of above-ground stocks of the metal in comparison to other commodities, these factors typically do not affect the price in the same manner or degree as the supply of and demand for other commodities tend to affect their market price.
The following table presents the annual high, low and average afternoon fixing prices over the past 10 years, expressed in dollars, for gold per ounce, on the London Bullion Market:
The table reveals a price volatility as low as $24 per ounce in 1995 and as high as $97 per ounce in 2003. Price volatility appears to be increasing with the gap between low and high being $69 per ounce, $97 per ounce and $85 per ounce over the last three years.
On 24 February 2005, the afternoon fixing price of gold on the London Bullion Market was $433.75 per ounce.
If revenue from gold sales falls below the cost of production for an extended period, AngloGold Ashanti may experience losses and be forced to curtail or suspend some or all of its capital projects and/or operations and change its past dividend payment policies. In addition, it would have to assess the economic impact of low gold prices on its ability to recover any losses it may incur during that period and on its ability to maintain adequate cash and accounting reserves.
Gold companies face many risks related to their operations (including their exploration and development activities) that may affect their cash flows and overall profitability
Uncertainty and cost of mineral exploration and acquisitions
Once gold mineralisation is discovered it can take several years to determine whether Ore Reserves exist. During this time the economic feasibility of production may change.
AngloGold Ashanti considers from time to time the acquisition of Ore Reserves, development properties and operating mines, either as stand-alone assets or as part of companies. Its decisions to acquire these properties have historically been based on a variety of factors including historical operating results, estimates of and assumptions about future reserves, cash and other operating costs, metal prices and projected economic returns and evaluations of existing or potential liabilities associated with the property and its operations. Other than historical operating results, all of these parameters may differ significantly from its estimates and assumptions. In addition, there is intense competition for attractive properties.
As a result of these uncertainties, the exploration programmes and acquisitions engaged in by AngloGold Ashanti may not result in the expansion or replacement of the current production with new Ore Reserves or operations. This could adversely affect its ongoing business and financial position.
AngloGold Ashanti's decision to develop a mineral property is typically based, in the case of an extension or, in the case of a new development, on the results of a feasibility study. Feasibility studies estimate the expected or anticipated project economic returns. These estimates are based on assumptions about:
Actual cash operating costs, production and economic returns may differ significantly from those anticipated by such studies and estimates. There are a number of uncertainties inherent in the development and construction of an extension to an existing mine, or in the development and construction of any new mine. These uncertainties include, in addition to those discussed immediately above:
The costs, timing and complexities of mine development and construction can increase because of the remote location of many mining properties. New mining operations could experience unexpected problems and delays during development, construction and mine start-up. In addition, delays in the commencement of mineral production could occur. Accordingly, AngloGold Ashanti's future development activities may not result in the expansion or replacement of current production with new production, or one or more of these new production sites or facilities may be less profitable than currently anticipated or may not be profitable at all.
Ore Reserve estimation risks
AngloGold Ashanti undertakes annual revisions to its respective Mineral Resource and Ore Reserve estimates based upon actual exploration and production results, depletion, new information and fluctuations in production and economic parameters. These factors may result in reductions in its Ore Reserve estimates, which could adversely impact upon the life-of-mine plans and consequently the total value of AngloGold Ashanti's mining asset base and, as a result, could have a negative impact upon the market price of AngloGold Ashanti's ordinary shares and ADSs.
Mining industry risks
The occurrence of one or more of these events may result in the death of, or personal injury to, miners, the loss of mining equipment, damage to or destruction of mineral properties or production facilities, monetary losses, delays in production, environmental damage and potential legal liabilities. As a result, AngloGold Ashanti's operations could be affected and, if such effects were material, its financial position could be adversely impacted to a significant extent.
Seismic activity is of particular concern to the gold mining industry in South Africa, in part because of the large percentage of deep-level gold mines. To understand and manage this risk, AngloGold Ashanti uses sophisticated seismic and rock mechanics technologies. AngloGold Ashanti has had some success with these technologies in identifying the possible location of future seismic activity and in the development of mine layouts, support layouts and technologies and mining methods to ameliorate seismic risk. Despite these programmes and their success to date, seismic events have in the past and may in the future cause employee injury and death and may cause substantial damage to AngloGold Ashanti's operations both within South Africa and elsewhere, which could have an adverse impact on the future results of its operations and, consequently, its financial condition.
Gold mining operations are subject to extensive health and safety laws and regulations
Gold mining operations are subject to a variety of mine health and safety laws and regulations depending upon the jurisdiction in which they are located. These laws and regulations are formulated to improve and to protect the safety and health of employees.
In complying with the mine health and safety laws and regulations to which its operations are subject, AngloGold Ashanti has dedicated resources in an attempt to achieve and to ensure the application of international best practice in the management of health across its operations, including medical surveillance systems. These systems and policies have resulted in improvements in its safety performance.
If these laws and regulations were to change and, if as a result, material additional expenditure was required to comply with such new laws and regulations, it could adversely affect AngloGold Ashanti's financial position.
Gold mining companies are subject to environmental laws and regulations
Gold mining companies are subject to environmental laws and regulations in the various jurisdictions in which they operate. These regulations establish limits and conditions on gold producers' ability to conduct their operations. The cost of AngloGold Ashanti's compliance with environmental laws and regulations has been significant in the past.
Gold mining companies are required to close their operations and rehabilitate the lands that they mine in accordance with environmental laws and regulations. Estimates of the total ultimate closure and rehabilitation costs for gold mining operations are significant and based principally on current legal and regulatory requirements that may change materially. Environmental liabilities are accrued when they are known, probable and can be reasonably estimated.
Environmental laws and regulations are continually changing and are generally becoming more restrictive. If AngloGold Ashanti's environmental compliance obligations were to change as a result of changes in the laws and regulations or in certain assumptions it makes to estimate liabilities, or if unanticipated conditions were to arise in its operations, its expenses and provisions would increase to reflect these changes. If material, these expenses and provisions could adversely affect its results of operations and financial position.
Risks related to AngloGold Ashanti's operations
AngloGold Ashanti faces many risks related to its operations that may affect its cash flows and overall profitability.
AngloGold Ashanti's use of hedging instruments to protect against low gold prices and exchange rate movements may prevent it from realising all potential gains resulting from subsequent gold price increases in the future
AngloGold Ashanti currently uses hedging instruments to fix the selling price of a portion of its anticipated gold production and to protect revenues against unfavourable gold price and exchange rate movements. While the use of these instruments may protect against a drop in gold prices and exchange rate movements, it will only do so for a limited period of time and only to the extent that the hedge remains in place. The use of these instruments may also prevent AngloGold Ashanti from realising the positive impact on income from any subsequent favourable increase in the price of gold on the portion of production covered by the hedge and any subsequent favourable exchange rate movements.
If the development of the deep-level ore deposits at Obuasi mine is not economically feasible, there may be a material negative impact on AngloGold Ashanti's operations and financial performance in the long term
A key aspect of the business combination of AngloGold and Ashanti is the development of the deep-level extension of the existing orebody at the Obuasi mine, otherwise referred to as the Obuasi Deeps. This development could potentially extend the life of this mine to well beyond 2020. In furtherance of this goal, AngloGold Ashanti has commenced a process of investing $44 million over the next five years on further exploration and feasibility studies necessary to establish reserves and develop the most profitable extraction plan. Depending upon these results, the full development of the Obuasi Deeps may proceed in six to seven years time, but will take several years to complete. Initial scoping studies have indicated that the development of Obuasi Deeps will require an estimated capital expenditure of $570 million in 2003 money terms over the anticipated life of the mine.
If as a result of this further exploration and following the completion of the feasibility studies, AngloGold Ashanti determines that the development of the Obuasi Deeps is not economically feasible, such determination may have a material negative impact on its operations and financial performance in the long term. The funding of the development of Obuasi Deeps will only proceed if it is determined to be economically feasible.
In addition, if the feasibility studies indicate that the development of the Obuasi Deeps is economically feasible, the actual economic returns and the actual costs of development may differ significantly from the assumptions and estimates used in the preliminary scoping studies completed to date, as well as in the feasibility studies completed following further exploration. This could have a negative impact on AngloGold Ashanti's return on its investment in the Obuasi Deeps and, as a result, AngloGold Ashanti's long-term profitability following the business combination.
Benefits from integration of Ashanti's operations with AngloGold may not be achieved to the extent or within the time period that is currently anticipated, and AngloGold Ashanti may encounter costs and difficulties in integrating the Ashanti operations, which would reduce or delay the realisation of increased revenues, cost savings and operational benefits
Following the business combination, AngloGold Ashanti is in the process of integrating the Ashanti operations with AngloGold's operations in order to increase revenues and earnings, and achieve cost savings through enhanced growth opportunities and synergies. AngloGold Ashanti may fail to reach the anticipated levels of production and cost saving that it expects, or achieve these at a higher capital cost than anticipated.
In addition, the need to deal with integration issues could also divert management's attention from day-to-day business.
Foreign exchange fluctuations could have a material impact on AngloGold Ashanti's operating results and financial position
Since June 2002, the weakening of the dollar against the South African rand, and, to a lesser extent, the Brazilian real, the Argentinean peso and the Australian dollar has negatively impacted AngloGold Ashanti's profitability. Conversely, in certain prior years, the devaluation of these local currencies against the dollar has had a significant positive effect on the profitability of its operations. Typically, revenues are derived in dollars and production costs are largely incurred in the relevant local currency. In 2004 and 2003, AngloGold Ashanti derived approximately 67% and 76%, respectively, of its revenues from these countries and approximately 67% and 79%, respectively, of production costs in these local currencies.
In 2004, the weakening of the dollar against these local currencies accounted for nearly $28 per ounce, or 52% of the increase in total cash costs compared with an increase in 2003 of $68 per ounce. In addition, production costs in South African rand, Brazilian real, Argentinean peso and Australian dollar were only modestly offset by the effect of exchange rate movements on the price of imports denominated in dollars, as imported products comprise a small proportion of production costs in each of these countries.
AngloGold Ashanti's product, gold, is principally a dollar-priced commodity and most of its revenues are realised in or linked to dollars. The weakening of the dollar, without a corresponding increase in the dollar price of gold against these local currencies results in lower revenues and higher production costs in dollar terms. Conversely, the strengthening of the dollar, without a corresponding decrease in the dollar price of gold, against these local currencies yields significantly higher revenues and lower production costs in dollar terms. If material, these exchange rate movements may have an adverse impact on AngloGold Ashanti's operating results. For example, due to the strengthening of the South African rand against the dollar, production costs at AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations increased in dollar terms during both 2003 and 2004. These impacts have been partially offset by the increase in the dollar price of gold, which increase has been partially a function of dollar weakness.
To a lesser extent, mainly as a result of its hedging instruments, a small proportion of AngloGold Ashanti's revenues are denominated in South African rand and Australian dollar, which may partially offset the effect of the dollar's strength or weakness on AngloGold Ashanti's profitability.
In addition, due to its global operations and local foreign exchange regulations, some of AngloGold Ashanti's funds are held in local currencies, such as the South African rand and Australian dollar. The dollar value of these currencies may be affected by exchange rate fluctuations. If material, exchange rate movements may affect AngloGold Ashanti's overall financial position.
Inflation may have a negative impact on AngloGold Ashanti's results of operations
Most of AngloGold Ashanti's operations are located in countries that have, during periods in the past, experienced high rates of inflation. However, because it is unable to control the market price at which it sells the gold it produces (except to the extent that it enters into forward sales and other derivative contracts), it is possible that significantly higher future inflation in the countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates may result in a consequent increase in future operational costs in local currencies, without a concurrent devaluation of the local currency of operations against the dollar or an increase in the dollar price of gold. This could have a material adverse effect upon its results of operations and financial condition.
While none of AngloGold Ashanti's specific operations are currently materially adversely affected by inflation, significantly higher and sustained inflation in the future, with a consequent increase in operational costs, could result in operations being discontinued or reduced or rationalised at higher cost mines.
Changes to mineral rights ownership regimes in South Africa, where a significant portion of AngloGold Ashanti's Mineral Reserves and deposits are located, could have a material impact on its financial position
AngloGold Ashanti's rights to own and exploit Ore Reserves and deposits are governed by the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions in which the mineral properties are located. Currently, a significant portion of its Ore Reserves and deposits are located in South Africa.
On 1 May 2004 the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, Act 28 of 2004 (MPRDA), came into effect and operation.
The MPRDA vests custodianship of South Africa's mineral rights in the State. The State issues prospecting rights or mining rights to applicants. The former common law prospecting, mining and mineral rights are now known as old order rights and the transitional arrangements provided in the MPRDA give holders of such old order rights the opportunity to convert their old order rights into new order rights.
Applicants have five years from 1 May 2004, in which to apply to convert old order mining rights into new order mining rights. AngloGold Ashanti submitted its application for conversion of its rights in July 2004. AngloGold Ashanti submitted mining work programmes that substantiated the areas and period of the new order mining rights and also demonstrated its compliance with the requirements of the Charter as described below. A similar application was submitted to the relevant government department for unused old order prospecting rights. AngloGold Ashanti had one year from 1 May 2004 to apply for new prospecting or mining rights for the unused old order rights. AngloGold Ashanti will also apply for conversion of the old order prospecting rights that are in use within two years of 1 May 2004. The Department of Minerals and Energy is considering AngloGold Ashanti's various conversion applications.
AngloGold Ashanti also submitted two applications for new mining rights to extend its mining areas at its TauTona and Kopanang mines.
Where new rights are obtained under the MPRDA, these rights may not be equivalent to the old order rights. The area covered by the new rights may be reduced by the State if it finds that the prospecting or mining work programme submitted by an applicant does not substantiate the need to retain the area covered by the old rights. The duration of the new rights will no longer be perpetual but rather, in the case of new mining rights, for a maximum of 30 years with renewals of up to 30 years each and, in the case of prospecting rights, up to five years with one renewal of up to three years. The MPRDA provides for a retention period after prospecting of up to three years with one renewal of up to two years, subject to certain conditions, such as non-concentration of resources, fair competition, and non-exclusion of others. In addition, the new rights will only be transferable subject to the approval of the Minister of Minerals and Energy. Mining or prospecting must commence within one year or 120 days, respectively, of the mining right or prospecting right becoming effective, and must be conducted continuously and actively thereafter.
The new rights can be suspended or cancelled by the Minister of Minerals and Energy on breach or, in the case of a mining right, on non-optimal mining in accordance with the mining work programme.
The Department of Minerals and Energy has published the Broad-Based Socio-Economic Empowerment Charter for the South African Mining Industry (the Charter). The objectives of the Charter are to:
The Charter and the relevant Scorecard require that every mining company achieve 15% ownership by HDSAs of its South African mining assets within five years, and 26% ownership within 10 years.
It contemplates that this will be achieved by, among other things, disposals of assets by mining companies to HDSAs on a willing seller - willing buyer basis at fair market value. In addition, the Charter and Scorecard require mining companies to formulate plans for achieving employment equity at management level with a view to achieving 40% participation by HDSAs in management and 10% participation by women in the mining industry, each within five years. The State will evaluate the company's commitment to the different facets of promoting the objectives of the Charter against the Scorecard when considering applications for conversion of old order rights to new order rights.
AngloGold Ashanti has completed a number of asset sales to companies owned by HDSAs in the past five years. According to AngloGold Ashanti's estimates based on operating data for the 12 months ended 31 March 2004 - the period on which the company's licence conversion applications are based - these transactions transfer 20% of its attributable units of production in South Africa to HDSAs. However, the State is currently considering AngloGold Ashanti's rights conversion application. In addition, AngloGold Ashanti is continuing to evaluate alternative ways in which to achieve the objectives of the Charter through, for example, forms of broad-based equity ownership by historically disadvantaged entities, groups or individuals, including employee share ownership and empowerment unit trusts. Further, the Scorecard allows for a portion of "offset" against these HDSA ownership requirements insofar as companies have facilitated downstream, value-adding activities as regards the products they mine. AngloGold Ashanti carries out such activities and is confident that these will be recognised in terms of a framework currently being devised by government.
AngloGold Ashanti believes that it has made significant progress towards meeting the requirements of the Charter and the Scorecard in human resource development, employment equity, mine community and rural development, housing and living conditions, procurement and beneficiation. It reflected these results when it lodged its applications for new mining rights and conversions. Details of the State's methodology for calculating performance in regard to beneficiation have, however, not yet been made public. Failure on the part of AngloGold Ashanti to comply with the requirements of the Charter and the Scorecard could subject it to negative consequences.
AngloGold Ashanti may also incur expenses in giving additional effect to the Charter and the Scorecard, including costs which it may incur in facilitating the financing of initiatives towards ownership by HDSAs as part of the industry wide commitment to assist such persons in securing R100 billion of financing during the first five years of the Charter's life. There is furthermore no guarantee that any steps AngloGold Ashanti has taken and might take to comply with the Charter will ensure that it successfully acquires new order rights in place of its old order rights. In addition, the terms of such new rights may not be as favourable to AngloGold Ashanti as the terms applicable to its existing rights. Based on present indications, however, AngloGold Ashanti believes that it should acquire the new order rights on reasonable terms.
The MPRDA also imposes on mining companies additional responsibilities relating to environmental management and to environmental damage, degradation or pollution resulting from their prospecting or mining activities. AngloGold Ashanti has a policy of evaluating, minimising and addressing the environmental consequences of its activities and, consistent with this policy and the MPRDA, conducts an annual review of the environmental costs and liabilities associated with its South African operations in light of the new, as well as existing, environmental requirements.
AngloGold Ashanti considers the new mineral rights regime in South Africa to be a proper and appropriate method of dealing with the country's Mineral Resources and political legacy. The company believes the new mineral rights regime is likely to play a significant part in enhancing socio-economic stability and progress by encouraging equitable participation in the economy and thereby, improving the lives of those citizens previously disadvantaged by apartheid. A failure on the part of government to have implemented such measures would have endangered prospects for political and economic stability.
AngloGold Ashanti has made progress in adjusting the ownership structure of its South African mining assets and the composition of its management consistent with the Charter's spirit. It believes that it is well placed to meet the Charter's targets in accordance with the Scorecard.
The South Africa government has announced that it is giving consideration to new legislation, in terms of which the new rights will be subject to a State royalty. The extent and basis of that royalty is unknown at present. The draft Mineral and Petroleum Royalty Bill, 2003, was released in March 2003 for comment and proposed a royalty payment of three percent of gross revenue per annum, payable quarterly, in the case of gold. Had the proposal become law, royalty payments would have commenced upon the conversion and granting of a new mining right. AngloGold Ashanti and other members of the South African mining community have submitted comments on the draft bill to the relevant authorities. These comments included recommendations for a profit-based, rather than a revenue-based, royalty and in order not to delay the conversion of mineral rights from old into new order rights, it was recommended that the proposed royalty should only become payable from a fixed date being five years after the MPRDA took effect, that is 1 May 2009, which date is the final date for conversion of the old order into new order mining rights under the MPRDA. In addition, a reduction in the royalty rate from that proposed in the draft Mineral and Petroleum Royalty Bill has been proposed. On 18 February 2004, in the Budget Speech for the 2004 fiscal year, the South African Minister of Finance proposed several refinements to the draft Mineral and Petroleum Royalty Bill. These include a delay in the introduction of the royalty to five years after 1 May 2004, that is the date on which the MPRDA came into operation and confirmation of the South African government's preference for a revenue based royalty. It was further indicated that the royalty regime would take cognisance of the mining sector's diverse production and profitability dynamics with differential rates to apply to marginal mining operations. The introduction of the proposed royalty would, all else being equal, have an adverse impact upon AngloGold Ashanti's profitability, as currently no royalty is payable to the State. However, the Finance Minister announced also that due to the new regulatory system for the mining rights in terms of the MPRDA and accompanying royalty dispensation under the draft Mineral and Petroleum Royalty Bill, it has become imperative to holistically reassess the current fiscal regime as applicable to the mining and petroleum industries in South Africa, including tax, depreciation, rate differentiation for mining sectors, allowable deductions and exemptions from secondary tax on companies in terms of South Africa's income tax laws. Also due for review is the gold mining tax formula, which provides income tax exemption and relief from secondary tax on companies for gold mines, despite the existence of profit. The impact of these proposed reviews is unknown at this stage but may have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti's profitability.
AngloGold Ashanti's Mineral Reserves and deposits and mining operations are located in countries that face political and economic risks
The mineral deposits and mining operations of AngloGold Ashanti are located in some countries which have experienced to a greater or lesser extent, political instability and economic uncertainty in the past. In the past decade and more, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Namibia, Mali and Brazil have achieved greater political and economic stability. Nevertheless, in all of the countries where AngloGold Ashanti operates, government policy may be unpredictable on issues ranging from environmental regulations to mineral rights ownership.
Any existing and new mining operations and projects AngloGold Ashanti carries out in these countries are and will be subject to various national and local laws, policies and regulations governing the prospecting, developing and mining of Mineral Reserves, taxation, exchange controls, investment approvals, employee relations and other matters. If, in one or more of these countries, AngloGold Ashanti were not able to obtain or maintain necessary permits, authorisations or agreements to implement planned projects or continue its operations under conditions or within time frames that make such plans and operations economic, or if legal or fiscal regimes or the governing political authorities change materially, its financial position could be adversely affected.
In South Africa, on 18 February 2004, the Minister of Finance announced in the Budget Speech the new regulatory system for the mining rights as detailed in the previous risk factor.
In May 2004, the government of Guinea imposed an embargo on all imports and exports by AngloGold Ashanti's Siguiri mine including the export of gold bullion and the import of diesel. The embargo has subsequently been lifted by the Guinean government following extensive discussions between itself and the management of AngloGold Ashanti. Negotiations with the government in respect of the Convention de Base are in progress and its outcome cannot be predicted at this stage.
Labour disruptions in South Africa and other countries could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti's operating results and financial condition
As at 31 December 2004, approximately 69% (2003: 87%) of AngloGold Ashanti's workforce was located in South Africa.
Approximately 87.5% of the workforce on its South African operations is unionised, with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) representing the majority of unionised workers. AngloGold Ashanti's employees in some South American countries are also highly unionised. Trade unions have a significant impact on AngloGold Ashanti's labour relation climate as well as on social and political reforms, most notably in South Africa. In 1987, the NUM embarked on a three-week strike in support of a wage demand. Since then labour relations between AngloGold Ashanti and the industry have stablised and no significant strikes have occurred. This is, in part, due to the presence of the representative unions and the part they play in ensuring orderly collective bargaining. It has become practice to negotiate wages and conditions of employment with the unions every two years, through the Chamber of Mines of South Africa. The most recent settlement negotiation was completed in July 2003, when the parties reached an agreement covering the period from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2005. Furthermore, AngloGold Ashanti has instituted a number of processes at both mine and at company level, whereby management and unions interact regularly and address areas of difference as they arise.
Prior to the business combination with AngloGold, Ashanti and its mining contractors also relied to a large degree on a unionised workforce. In 1999, Ashanti experienced strikes at the Obuasi mine in Ghana. There is a risk that strikes or other types of conflict with unions or employees may occur at any one of AngloGold Ashanti's operations.
It is uncertain whether labour disruptions will be used to pursue labour's economic, political or social goals in the future. Should any labour disruptions occur, if material, they could have an adverse effect on AngloGold Ashanti's results of operations and financial condition.
AngloGold Ashanti faces certain risks in dealing with HIV/AIDS which may have an adverse effect on its operations
AIDS remains the major health care challenge faced by AngloGold Ashanti's South African operations. Accurate prevalence data for AIDS is not available. The South African workforce prevalence studies indicate this may be as high as 30%, while at the operations in Ghana, available data suggests a prevalence rate of 3.7%. AngloGold Ashanti is continuing to develop and implement various programmes aimed at helping those who have been infected with HIV and preventing new infections. On 14 November 2002, AngloGold Ashanti announced that it had begun implementing a monitored pilot anti-retroviral therapy programme for volunteer employees in South Africa who are infected with HIV. The pilot programme involved offering a triple combination drug regimen, known as a drug cocktail, to 200 Wellness Clinic patients that met the medical eligibility criteria for starting treatment. From April 2003, it commenced a roll-out of the treatment to all eligible employees desiring it.
At this stage, the total cost of providing rigorous outcome-focused disease management of employees with AIDS, including the provision of an anti-retroviral drug cocktail, is an average $213 per employee on treatment per month. It is not yet possible to develop an accurate cost estimate of the programme in its entirety, given uncertainties such as drug prices and the ultimate rate of employee participation. AngloGold Ashanti does not expect the cost that it will incur related to the prevention of HIV infection and the treatment of AIDS to materially and adversely affect its operations and profitability.
Some of AngloGold Ashanti's power supplies are not always reliable and have on occasion forced AngloGold Ashanti to halt or curtail activities at its mines. Power fluctuations and power cost increases may have a negative impact on AngloGold Ashanti's profitability
Substantial portions of AngloGold Ashanti's mining operations in Ghana are dependent for their electricity supply on hydro-electric power supplied by the Volta River Authority (VRA), an entity controlled by the government of Ghana, although AngloGold Ashanti also has access to VRA electricity supply from a recently constructed smaller thermal plant. The VRA's principal electricity generating facility is the Akosombo Dam and during periods of below average water inflows from the Volta reservoir, electricity supplies from the Akosombo Dam may be curtailed, as occurred in 1998. In addition, this electricity supply has been subject to voltage fluctuations, which can damage AngloGold Ashanti's equipment. Other than short-term stand-by generators, which are not sufficient to allow AngloGold Ashanti to continue mining operations, AngloGold Ashanti has no means of obtaining alternative power in the event of a supply shortage from the VRA. The VRA also obtains power from neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire, which has recently experienced some political instability and civil unrest. These factors may cause interruptions in AngloGold Ashanti's power supply or result in increases in the cost of power even if they do not interrupt supply. AngloGold Ashanti's original agreement with the VRA expired in May 2003 and negotiations with the VRA have been concluded resulting in an increase of 11% in the applicable tariff upon renewal of that agreement.
AngloGold Ashanti's mining operations in Guinea, Tanzania and Mali are dependent on power supplied by outside contractors and supplies of fuel being delivered by road. AngloGold Ashanti's power supply has been disrupted in the past and AngloGold Ashanti has suffered resulting production losses as a result of equipment failure.
The occurrence of events for which AngloGold Ashanti is not insured or for which its insurance is inadequate may affect its cash flows and overall profitability
AngloGold Ashanti maintains insurance to protect only against catastrophic events which could have a significant adverse impact on its operations and profitability. This insurance is maintained in amounts that are believed to be reasonable depending upon the circumstances surrounding each identified risk. However, AngloGold Ashanti's insurance does not cover all potential risks associated with its business. In addition, AngloGold Ashanti may elect not to have insurance for certain risks, due to the high premiums associated with insuring those risks or for various other reasons, including an assessment that the risks are remote. Furthermore, AngloGold Ashanti may not be able to obtain insurance coverage at acceptable premiums. AngloGold Ashanti has a captive insurance company, namely AGRe Insurance Company Limited, which participates at various levels in certain of the insurances maintained by AngloGold Ashanti. The occurrence of events for which it is not insured may adversely affect AngloGold Ashanti's cash flows and overall profitability.
If securities litigation currently pending in the United States is not resolved satisfactorily out of court, then any substantial damages awarded to the plaintiffs by a court of law may affect AngloGold Ashanti's business and financial condition
The former Ashanti Goldfields Company Limited is currently subject to litigation, including a consolidated class action lawsuit pending in the United States alleging misstatements and non-disclosures in connection with SEC filings and other public statements made by Ashanti between 1997 and 1999 concerning Ashanti's hedging programme. Negotiations are in progress to settle this litigation out of court. There is no guarantee that a settlement can be reached in a manner satisfactory to the parties involved.
Risks related to AngloGold Ashanti's ordinary shares and ADSs
Sales of large numbers of AngloGold Ashanti's ordinary shares and ADSs or the perception that these sales may occur, could adversely affect the prevailing market price of such securities
The market price of AngloGold Ashanti's ordinary shares or AngloGold Ashanti ADSs could fall if large amounts of AngloGold Ashanti ordinary shares or AngloGold Ashanti ADSs are sold in the public market, or there is the perception in the marketplace that such sales could occur. Holders of AngloGold Ashanti ordinary shares or AngloGold Ashanti ADSs may decide to sell them at any time. Sales of ordinary shares or ADSs, if substantial, or the perception that these sales may occur and may be substantial, could exert downward pressure on the prevailing market prices for the AngloGold Ashanti ordinary shares or AngloGold Ashanti ADSs, causing their market prices to decline.
Fluctuations in the exchange rate of different currencies may reduce the market value of AngloGold Ashanti's securities, as well as the market value of any dividends or distributions paid by AngloGold Ashanti
AngloGold Ashanti has historically declared all dividends in South African rand. As a result, exchange rate movements may have affected and, may continue to affect, respectively, the Australian dollar, the British pound, the Ghanaian cedi and the dollar value of these dividends, as well as of any other distributions paid by the relevant depositary to investors that hold AngloGold Ashanti's securities. This may reduce the value of these securities to investors. At the general meeting of AngloGold Ashanti's shareholders held on 5 December 2002, a majority of its shareholders passed a special resolution adopting a new Memorandum and Articles of Association, which, among other things, allows for dividends and distributions to be declared in any currency at the discretion of AngloGold Ashanti's board, or its shareholders at a general meeting. If, and to the extent AngloGold Ashanti declares dividends and distributions in dollars, exchange rate movements will not affect the dollar value of any dividends or distributions. Nevertheless, the Australian dollar, British pound and Ghanaian cedi value of any dividend or distribution will continue to be affected and the South African rand value of any dividend or distribution will also be affected. If and to the extent dividends and distributions are declared in South African rand, exchange rate movements will continue to affect the Australian dollar, British pound, Ghanaian cedi and dollar value of these dividends and the Australian dollar, British pound, Ghanaian cedi and dollar market value of AngloGold Ashanti's securities will continue to fluctuate with exchange rate movements.
Employee and other stakeholder engagement
The company has a variety of strategies and structures in place that are designed to promote constructive engagement with employees and other stakeholders. Full details of the company's initiatives and practices in respect of stakeholder engagement are contained in the AngloGold Ashanti Report to Society 2004, which is available electronically on the company website.
Employment equity and development
In October 2004, AngloGold Ashanti submitted its fourth annual employment equity report to the Department of Labour on progress made with the implementation of the company's employment equity plan in respect of its South African operations. The 2004 report indicates that continued progress has been made year-on-year. Notably AngloGold Health Services, which has in the past submitted its own report, has now been included in the 2004 figures in the table below, and will be reported as such from now on. The employment equity governance structures and monitoring processes have been entrenched at company and business unit levels. A Mining Charter Steering Committee has been established to lead and direct the overall process of compliance with the charter. An external audit on progress of equity issues was undertaken in 2004. The external employment equity audit noted substantial progress in terms of employment equity. The audit report highlighted the following findings:
Measures are being implemented to address these issues. The following is a summary of the 2004 report as required by section 22(1) of the Employment Equity Act of 1998.
Sustainable development is a cornerstone of the AngloGold Ashanti culture. The 2004 Report to Society is a reflection of the company's commitment to the environment, economy and communities in which it operates. The report is primarily an interactive web-based document that can be located at the company website - www.anglogoldashanti.com/reports/social/reporttosociety/. Hard copies of the report are available on request from the Corporate Affairs department.
The company is proud to have qualified for the inaugural JSE Socially Responsible Investment Index 2003, and looks forward to participating in the 2004 index, the results of which will be announced during the course of 2005. The company was also rated third in the Edward Nathan & Friedland (ENF) Sustainability Index.
AngloGold Ashanti subscribes to a policy of full, accurate and consistent communication in respect of both its financial and operating affairs. To this end the company has adopted a Disclosures Policy, the object of which is to ensure compliance with the rules of the various exchanges on which it is listed and provide timely, accurate and reliable information fairly to all stakeholders including investors (and potential investors), regulators and analysts.
As the business combination with Ashanti was completed during the course of 2004, the policy was only adopted in December 2004 in order to align the practices of the merged company. The policy is publicly available from the company website.
Compliance with Section 303A.11 of the NYSE Rules
Section 303A.11 of the NYSE Rules requires a foreign-listed company on the exchange to identify significant differences between its corporate governance practices and those of a domestic company listed on the NYSE. The board does not comprise a majority of independent directors as the company is a controlled company and has adopted a different standard of director independence as compared with the NYSE standard. The JSE rules only require a sufficient number of independent directors. The NYSE rules require fully independent nominations and remuneration committees. In compliance with JSE rules the company has a Nominations Committee and a Remuneration Committee. Both committees comprise solely of non-executive directors, the majority of whom are independent and are chaired by the independent board chairman.
Electronic voting by shareholders
Shareholders are a key stakeholder of the company. In order to empower shareholders to make their voices heard, and to fully participate in critical decisions affecting the company, AngloGold Ashanti is examining the feasibility of implementing an electronic voting system which shareholders can access via the internet. The purpose of implementing such a system is to provide shareholders with the opportunity to take advantage of existing technology to electronically vote on resolutions put forward at the annual general meeting.
Codes of ethics and whistle-blowing policy
In order to comply with the company's obligations in terms of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the King Code, and in the interests of good governance, the company has adopted a code of ethics for employees, a code of ethics for senior financial officers (PDF 31.4KB), and a whistle-blowing policy (PDF 44.6KB) that encourages employees and other stakeholders to confidentially report acts of an unethical or illegal nature affecting the company's interests. Both codes and the whistle-blowing policy are available on the company website.
Access to information
The company has complied with its obligations in terms of the South African Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000. The company's access to information manual is available from the company website and the company secretarial department.
UBS acts as sponsor to the company in compliance with the Listings Requirements of the JSE.
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