AngloGold Ashanti delivered first-half headline earnings of $363m amid a challenging first half of the year.

This includes the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on its operations, increased costs, lower realised grades across certain operations and the voluntary suspension of underground mining activities at the Obuasi Mine following a fatal accident on 18 May 2021.

According to the company’s audited half-year 2020 results, the headline earnings of $363m, or 87 US cents per share, in the first six months of 2021, is compared to $404m, or 97 US cents per share, in the first half of 2020.

Adjusted net debt declined by 41% year-on-year to $850m at the end of June 2021, from $1.431 billion at 30 June 2020.

The company has therefore declared a dividend of 87 ZAR cents per share (approximately 6 US cents per share) for the six months ended 30 June 2021.

Production for the first six months of 2021 was 1.200 million ounces at a total cash cost of $1,003 per ounce, compared to 1.323 million ounces at $770 per ounce during the same period last year.

According to the mining giant, production for the half year was impacted by an estimated 42,000 ounces of gold due to Covid-19.

Interim Chief Executive Officer, Christine Ramon, said “AngloGold Ashanti remains focused on its strategy to create long-term value, whilst maintaining a strong balance sheet and mitigating any financial or operating risks to the business. Our reinvestment projects remain on track to improve operating flexibility and access to higher grades. We are also pursuing operating and capital efficiencies over the remainder of the year.”

She further said AngloGold Ashanti’s strategy of improving operating flexibility through investment in Ore Reserve development and Ore Reserve expansion at sites with high geological potential remains a key priority and is reflected by the 33% year-on-year increase in total capital expenditure to $461m (including equity accounted joint ventures) in the first half of 2021, compared to $346m from continuing operations in the first half of 2020.

Meanwhile, mining activities at Obuasi will remain suspended pending the conclusion of a third-party review of the mining and ground management plans.

On 1 September 2021, Mr. Alberto Calderon will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Company and Ms. Christine Ramon will return to her role as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer.

Balance sheet

According to the company, the balance sheet remains in a solid position, with debt falling and ample liquidity of approximately $2.5bn.

The ratio of Adjusted net debt to Adjusted EBITDA improved to 0.37 times at 30th June 2021 from 0.73 times at 30th June 2020.

The company further said it remains committed to maintaining a flexible balance sheet with an Adjusted net debt to Adjusted EBITDA target ratio not exceeding 1.0 times through the cycle.

Safety performance

The company reported two fatalities in the first half of 2021.

In February 2021, an employee at the Serra Grande mine in Brazil was fatally injured in a fall-off ground related incident during blasting preparation activities and in May 2021 an employee at the Obuasi mine in Ghana was also fatally injured in an underground sill pillar failure incident.

AngloGold Ashanti noted it remained strongly committed to improving safety across its global portfolio and is focused on the execution of its safe production strategy.