Report to Society

Human rights

The year in review

Respect for human rights is a key principle in many of the policies and practices that are integral to the group’s sustainability efforts, and are entrenched in the constitutions and legislation of many of the countries in which the group operates. Oversight and implementation of various practices in this area are largely the function of line managers as they are the direct interface between the company and employees and the company and communities. Human rights cut across a range of disciplines, from safety and health, community and environment, to human resources, ethics and governance. While certain human rights issues are dealt with in various other sections of this report, for the sake of completeness and convenience, all human rights issues are grouped together in this section. References are provided to indicate where particular matters have been discussed elsewhere in this report.

The group continues to support both the UN Global Compact and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. A major development during the year was the appointment of a Vice President for Global Security, with a specific remit to ensure that all security operations and practices take due cognisance of human rights. This appointment followed a comprehensive review of global security operations, which is discussed more fully below. See the case study: Improving security in line with Voluntary Principles. Human rights issues are considered when screening all major supplies and contractors, and in evaluating all new investments.

Fundamental human rights conventions

Certain human rights conventions, including those relating to freedom of association and collective bargaining, are entrenched in South African legislation and the constitution, as well as in laws and regulations in the countries in which AngloGold Ashanti operates. The group is committed to upholding the basic labour rights captured in the Fundamental Rights Convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Specifically, it seeks to ensure the implementation of fair employment practices by prohibiting forced, compulsory or child labour and implementing these practices through country, operation and shaft level recognition and collective bargaining agreements, and through disciplinary, grievance and non-discrimination agreements and codes. No breaches of fundamental rights were alleged, nor were any charges brought against the company in connection with these during the year. No operations are deemed to be at specific risk in this regard.

Freedom of association and collective bargaining

Freedom of association is recognised as a fundamental right within the group, and collective bargaining is encouraged. With the exception of Australia and the United States, where collective bargaining is not common in the resources sector, collective bargaining structures are in place at all operations. During the year the group has reviewed and recommitted to collective bargaining and this discussion is contained in the case study: The way forward for collective bargaining for AngloGold Ashanti.

A concerted effort was made to embed a robust collective bargaining structure in the group’s operations in Ghana, where a wage settlement for certain levels of employees was reached without external involvement during the year. See the case study: Update on collective bargaining in Ghana.

Around 86% of the group’s workforce is represented by recognised trade unions or provided for by way of collective bargaining processes. In the United States and Australia, a high degree of employee participation is encouraged. Further details on the group’s collective bargaining processes and significant strikes and work stoppages may be found in the Employment section of this report.

Discrimination and harassment

All forms of discrimination, including racial and sexual harassment and discrimination against the disabled, are prohibited by the company’s business principles as well as by legislation in most of the countries where our operations are situated. Policies are in place at all operations to protect employees from prejudice and, in some countries, to promote the advancement of certain groups of employees. Specifically in countries in Africa and in Australia the rights and promotion of indigenous peoples, the historically disadvantaged and women are provided for in law and adopted and followed by the company. No significant cases of discrimination (that is alleged and subsequently, found to be of substance with disciplinary actions necessary) were reported during the year. Further details may be found in the Employment section of this report. A whistle-blowing process is available to all employees across the group and among issues raised and investigated as part of this process, are those relating to human rights. See the Ethics and Governance section.

Security and human rights

The group continues to support both the UN Global Compact and the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, and has submitted its annual report on compliance (PDF - 67KB). A major development during the year was appointment of a Vice President for Global Security, with a specific remit to ensure that all security operations and practices take due cognisance of human rights. This appointment followed a comprehensive review of global security operations.

A feature of the industry and the regions within which the company operates is the need to conduct appropriate threat and risk assessments and to deal with these in the most effective manner. In Colombia, the DRC and Guinea, the potential threat to company assets and personnel is such that state military and police units provide security services to the company on a near-permanent basis. Furthermore, during 2008, a police contingent provided support to the company’s own security staff and they were further supported in November by the deployment of a military platoon at the Obuasi mine in Ghana. This was in response to rising risks to people and assets by aggressive illegal miners. See the discussion in the Community section of this report for further details. Such security arrangements are common in these countries and the engagement and payment of security forces are undertaken in a transparent manner. The company maintains close contact with the military in these regions and is working to ensure the implementation and enforcement of practices in line with the Voluntary Principles.

Human rights training

Human rights training – for security personnel in particular – has been initiated at all operations where this is required. It is estimated that 75% of the group’s security personnel have received human rights training. Workshops to bring the discipline in alignment with new group policies will be held in Johannesburg and Bogot? in early 2009.

Investments and contractors

AngloGold Ashanti is aware that the human rights performance by its network of suppliers and contractors may have a significant impact on the communities in which they operate. Where it is appropriate, specific human rights clauses are included in significant contracts (including collective bargaining and other labour conventions). Particularly in respect of security contractors, a review process was undertaken during the year: significant security contractors (including military and police services) are screened for potential human rights abuses and that the group’s policies, practices and training requirements have been formally extended to them. See discussion below on the implementation of the Voluntary Principles. Respect for human rights is considered as part of the due diligence into all new investments by the company.

Significant issues

A number of significant community issues were reported during the year, and are discussed in the Community section of this report. Increasingly, AngloGold Ashanti is experiencing greater levels of tension between the company and both artisinal and small scale miners and illegal miners at Obuasi in Ghana, Siguiri in Guinea and Geita in Tanzania, and this has necessitated the use of force by security personnel in fulfilling their duties. In line with AngloGold Ashanti’s commitment to the Voluntary Principles, the company advocates minimum force by its own, contracted and state security staff.

Three specific incidents occurred relating to shootings, two at Obuasi and one at Geita. The two incidents at Obuasi were as a result of warning shots being fired by policemen; at Geita, a guard reacted to an attack by armed intruders. Investigations were undertaken in respect of all three incidents, and these found that all three individuals had acted with justifiable use of force. Those they acted against were charged with engaging in illegal mining and theft.

It must be reported that 28 people lost their lives on company property during the year in incidents unrelated to the company’s own mining activities:

  • five people engaged in illegal mining at the company’s underground operations at Obuasi died in three separate fall of ground incidents;
  • 22 artisanal miners died at Siguiri’s open-pit operations in eight separate fall of ground incidents; and
  • a suspected diesel thief, who was trespassing on company property, died at Geita in an accident involving a load haul truck.

A number of instances of labour and community unrest were reported during the year, one at Obuasi, one at Siguiri, one at Sadiola in Mali and nine at the South African operations. There were no incidents associated with these events. The company’s security personnel were vigilant during the wave of xenophobic attacks on non-South African nationals during the year. No incidents were recorded.

Of great concern to the company is the increasing level of violence perpetrated against AngloGold Ashanti security personnel, with five serious incidents recorded during the year – three at Obuasi, one at Siguiri and one at Geita. Liaison with communities, private and public security forces, and the judiciary is continuing in an effort to address this criminal activity.

Iduapriem, Ghana

Iduapriem, Ghana

Next > Objectives for 2009 The year in review

ANGLOGOLD ASHANTI Report to Society 2008