Business News of 2014-02-28

AngloGold and Partners to Sustain and Expand Battle against Malaria

Ghana has hit the headlines lately for all the wrong reasons, with the volatility of the gold price playing havoc with the country's export earnings, which dropped almost 16% year-on-year to US$2.7 billion in the first eight months of 2013.

With major mining players already announcing redundancies, the future of the country's gold mining industry appears somewhat bleak.

However, one miner may finally have a happier Ghanaian story to tell. Malaria has long been a huge problem, not only as a key cause of adult morbidity and the country's single biggest killer of children under five, but also a leading cause of workdays lost due to illness.

So in 2006 AngloGold Ashanti Ltd (AGA) launched an indoor residual spraying programme in houses, hospitals, orphanages and other buildings aimed at reducing malaria by 50% in the municipal district of Obuasi, which is home to one of the company's key gold mining operations.

Speaking at the World Gold Council's 'Gold for Health' panel discussion at Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Dr Brian Chicksen, Vice-president for Safety at AGA, highlighted the innovative thinking behind the project. "In many ways what we have done in Ghana is not rocket science, but it's innovative in the sense that it brings together a whole lot of different pieces into one and the programme has had a meaningful impact on the area of Obuasi, which is intimately linked with mining."

After an initial investment of US$1.7 million in the first year and around US1.3 million each year thereafter, in just two years the company saw the incidence rate of malaria in the local population plummet 72%.

Lost days due to malaria were reduced by from 6,983 per month to just 282 days by 2009. There were 6,711 cases of malaria recorded at the Edwin Cade Hospital in Obuasi in 2005. By mid-2013 that figure had shrunk to just 238 cases. In 2009 AGA together with the Ghanaian government received a US$133 million grant for a five-year period from The Global Fund to roll out a programme based on the Obuasi model across 40 districts in the country.

Fellow panelist Dr Brian Brink, Anglo American plc's chief medical officer and a board member of The Global Fund, highlighted the significance of AGA's initiative: "You've heard how they came to mine gold and in the process they've taken away probably the single most urgent health issue for the entire community not just around the gold mine but extending right into the depths of Ghana. Mining has made a huge difference to something that matters most to people there. "You can't run a profitable mine in a community that's sick. We've heard how business can change that and it's not just about gold mining, but the extractive industries in general."

Chicksen added that the company has already rolled out similar programmes in Mali, Tanzania and Guinea and has ambitious plans to expand the programme's good work in Ghana, but admits there are still some considerable challenges ahead. "We are faced with the challenge of how we make the structure we've created sustainable and the transition of that vehicle from the private sector into something that is more broadly owned by the people of Ghana in a sustainable way and also ensure it's sustainable for the economic trade.”

Dr Trevor Keel, session chair and head of technology at the World Gold Council said: "AngloGold has shown what can be done if you involve all parties, and the results of the spraying programme to date bring to clarity the kind of impact this programme can have on a community.

"It shows that collaboration between companies and governments is critical in making a programme like this sustainable." And with the programme expected to have reached 4.6 million people and generated around 3,500 jobs in Ghana by December 2015, the hope is this is one good news story that will keep on growing in importance.

About AngloGold Ashanti

AngloGold Ashanti is a global gold mining company and the world’s third largest gold producer. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti has 20 operations on four continents and one of the gold industry’s most successful exploration teams which work across both the established and new gold producing regions of the world.

This includes land positions in Colombia, Guinea and Australia, among others. AngloGold Ashanti employed 61,242 people, including contractors, in 2011 and produced 4.33Moz of gold, generating $6.6bn in gold income. Capital expenditure in 2011 amounted to $1.5bn. As at 31 December 2011, AngloGold Ashanti’s Ore Reserve totalled 75.6Moz.

The primary listing of the company’s ordinary shares is on the JSE Limited (JSE). Its ordinary shares are also listed on stock exchanges in London and Ghana, as well as being quoted in New York in the form of American Depositary Shares (ADSs), in Australia, in the form of CHESS Depositary Interests (CDIs) and in Ghana, in the form of Ghanaian Depositary Shares (GhDSs).