AngloGold Ashanti achieved key safety records, with its first ever fatality-free March quarter and achieved two consecutive fatality free quarters for the second time in its history.
The South Africa region reached a new milestone of 247 fatality-free days, exceeding its previous record set in 2014 of 242 days.
Moab Khotsong has passed 20 months without a fatality, a new record, whilst the region has exceeded five million fatality-free shifts.
Given the challenging conditions of ultra-deep mining operations, the entire team, in cooperation with a broad group of stakeholders, must be commended for delivering this critical objective in line with AngloGold Ashanti’s commitment to safe production.
“Our International operations have again delivered a strong result, with our brownfields investments proceeding to plan,” says Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan, AngloGold Ashanti Chief Executive Officer.
“On the back of the strong safety result, we are reviewing our South African operations to restore their margin and ensure they recover from a difficult start to the year.”
The Company remains on track to deliver full-year production guidance. Production was 830 000oz at an average total cash cost of
$813/oz for the first quarter of 2017, compared to 861 000oz at $702/oz for the first quarter of 2016, with the increase in costs per
ounce driven largely by the stronger operating currencies in South Africa and Brazil, the Rand and the Brazilian Real gained 16% and
19% against the US dollar respectively, as well as lower volumes produced.
South Africa had a difficult production quarter, as an added focus on a safe start-up contributed to an unusually slow ramp-up after
the year-end break.
This was compounded by: continued recovery from last year’s interruptions, particularly in the fourth quarter; a
poor mining mix, whereby lower-grade areas dominated volumes at some operations, more fractured ground than previously
anticipated in areas currently being mined at TauTona and Moab Khotsong and unwarranted deviations from mining plans,
particularly in the first half of the quarter.
Steps have been taken to address the poor adherence to mining plans and management
work routines, to improve productivity. These steps have already resulted in an improvement in mineable face length, leading to
volume recoveries in the second half of the quarter, and into the current quarter. These improvements will also contribute to our
forecast for an overall increase in production rates over the remainder of the year.
During the seasonally weaker first quarter of 2017, the Company maintained good balance sheet flexibility with net debt to adjusted
earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Adjusted EBITDA) ratio at 1.38 times.
Net debt at 31 March 2017 was $2.05 billion, down from $2.13 billion at 31 March 2016 and remained at comfortable levels despite the planned increase in capital expenditure, which was $216 million for the first quarter of 2017, up from $128 million for the first quarter of 2016.
This decrease in net debt was due to the redemption of the high yield bond using a combination of the group’s USD Revolving Credit Facility and free cash flow generated during 2016. Subsequent to 31 December 2016, net debt increased by $137 million from $1.92 billion to $2.05 billion due mainly to the free cash outflow for the quarter of $119 million.
Cash inflow from operating activities during the first quarter of 2017 was $93m, down from $227m for the first quarter of 2016, with
the decrease mainly due to adverse movements in working capital ($76m), and the dual impact of lower production and increased
cash costs ($60m). This was partly offset by the higher gold price received.
Free cash outflow was $119 million, compared to the $70 million free cash inflow reported in the first quarter of 2016, reflecting higher costs, the negative impact of working capital movements and the planned increase in sustaining capital expenditure levels. This was only partially offset by a reduction in taxes paid and a slightly higher price received during the quarter.
Total capital expenditure, including equity accounted entities, during the first quarter of 2017 was $216 million up from $128 million for the first quarter of 2016.
Total capital expenditure included $186 million of sustaining capital expenditure and $30 million of project capital expenditure.
Capital expenditure is expected to increase in the remaining three quarters of the year, in line with historical seasonal trends.