AngloGold Ashanti: Ghanaian gold mining giant with a complex legacy

Stories and facts

AngloGold Ashanti Limited, established in 2004 through the merger of AngloGold and Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, stands as a leading independent global gold mining company. With a diverse portfolio of high-quality projects and exploration activities, the company has operations spanning four continents. As of 2022, AngloGold Ashanti boasted 21 operations globally and was listed on stock exchanges in New York, Accra, London, and Australia, though it exited the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in 2023. As of May 2023, it ranked as the world's fourth-largest gold miner, with significant assets in Ghana, Australia, the United States, and Argentina.

The formation of AngloGold Ashanti on April 26, 2004, marked a significant event in the gold mining industry, following the Ghana High Court's approval of the merger three days earlier. AngloGold, originally based in South Africa and majority-owned by the Anglo American group, merged with Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, leading to Ashanti shareholders receiving 0.29 AngloGold shares for each Ashanti share.

Soon after its formation, the company streamlined its operations by selling the Union Reef Gold Mine in Australia and the Freda-Rebecca Gold Mine in Zimbabwe in 2004. Leadership changes saw Mark Cutifani replace Bobby Godsell as CEO in late 2007, followed by Alberto Calderon assuming the role in September 2021.

Throughout its history, AngloGold Ashanti has maintained significant gold production, reaching 4.98 million ounces in 2008. However, this figure dropped to 4.6 million ounces in 2009. Strategic decisions included selling a 33% stake in the Boddington Gold Mine in Australia to Newmont Mining for $1 billion in 2009 and offloading the Tau Lekoa Gold Mine in South Africa in 2010. That same year, the company eliminated its hedge book, a significant financial move costing $2.63 billion.

The company has also expanded its geographical footprint, moving into Eritrea in 2011 to explore the Arabian-Nubian Shield through a joint venture with Thani Dubai Mining.

By 2019, AngloGold Ashanti was recognized for its sophisticated and technologically advanced mining operations, with a strong commitment to safety regulations. This reputation underscores its position as an industry leader in innovation and operational excellence.

In 2020, AngloGold Ashanti divested its last South African mining assets to Harmony Gold, marking its complete exit from South African mining while maintaining its JSE listing. This strategic shift signified a broader focus on global operations.

Christine Ramon served as interim CEO starting September 2020, following Kelvin Dushnisky's resignation amid controversy over bonus payments from his previous employer, Barrick Gold, and a signing bonus from AngloGold Ashanti.

Despite its achievements, AngloGold Ashanti has faced significant criticism. The company has a history of human rights violations and environmental issues. In 2005, a payment to the FNI in Ituri, accused of human rights abuses, highlighted these concerns. Additionally, the company received the Public Eye Global Award in 2011 for its perceived irresponsible practices, with accusations from WACAM of gross human rights violations and environmental destruction.

Further, Colombia's Truth Commission implicated AngloGold Ashanti in financing paramilitary groups responsible for violence and displacement in the Cauca region.

AngloGold Ashanti's journey reflects a blend of operational success and complex ethical challenges. While it has positioned itself as a global leader in gold mining with advanced technological capabilities, the company must navigate its legacy of human rights and environmental controversies to sustain its reputation and operations in the global mining industry.



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