AngloGold Ashanti delivered first-half headline earnings of $363 million amid a challenging first half of the year, with performance affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, 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.
Headline earnings of $363 million, or 87 US cents per share, in the first six months of 2021, compared to $404 million, or 97 US cents per share, in the first half of 2020. Adjusted net debt declined by 41% year-on-year to $850 million at 30 June 2021, from $1.431 billion at 30 June 2020. The Company has 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 Moz at a total cash cost of $1,003/oz, compared to 1.323Moz at $770/ oz from continuing operations for the first six months of 2020. All-in sustaining costs (AISC) were $1,333/oz for the first six months of 2021, compared to $1,002/oz from continuing operations for the corresponding period last year, mainly reflecting higher cash costs, higher sustaining capital expenditure in line with the tailings compliance programme and the planned reinvestment objectives in the portfolio, COVID-19 impacts, stockpile movements and lower gold sold. Production for the half year was impacted by an estimated 42,000 oz due to COVID-19.
“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.,” Interim CEO, Christine Ramon, said. “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.”
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 $461 million (including equity accounted joint ventures) in the first half of 2021, compared to $346 million from continuing operations in the first half of 2020.
This year and next remain transitional ones for the Company, with the higher volumes of waste stripping and underground development accompanied by lower grades and the movements of stockpiles. The Company expects the mining of lower grades and stockpile utilisation to be transitory in nature as the reinvestment programme provides improved flexibility and access to higher-grades, and as vaccination drives progress across our jurisdictions most affected by COVID-19. Notwithstanding significant pressure on costs related to the tailing storage facilities (TSF) transition in Brazil, this investment is also transitory given the upcoming legal deadline.
Mining activities at Obuasi will remain suspended pending the conclusion of a third-party review of the mining and ground management plans.