AngloGold Ashanti is pleased to announce that it has entered into a sale and purchase agreement (the “SPA”), to dispose of various assets situated in the Vaal River region of South Africa to Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited (“Harmony”) for a cash consideration of US$300 million (the “Transaction”).
The assets and related interests to be sold include the following:
* The Moab Khotsong mine (which incorporates the Great Noligwa mine) and related infrastructure (the “Moab Mining Sale Assets”);
* AngloGold Ashanti’s entire interest in Nuclear Fuels Corporation of South Africa Proprietary Limited (“Nufcor”); and
* AngloGold Ashanti’s entire interest in Margaret Water Company NPC (“MWC”) (collectively, the “Sale Interests”)
“This transaction is in line with our capital allocation strategy and our aim to effect the improvement of our global portfolio, through projects that extend mine lives, enhance margins and provide quicker cash turns on investment,” AngloGold Ashanti Chief Executive Officer Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan said. “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of the Moab assets on fair terms to a well-established mining company with plans to secure its long-term future.”
Production from AngloGold Ashanti’s remaining South African operations, comprising the long life Mponeng mine and Mine Waste Solutions (“MWS”) surface operation, will constitute less than 15% of the Company’s estimated annual production.
2. RATIONALE FOR THE TRANSACTION
AngloGold Ashanti is a global gold mining company with 17 operations in nine countries spread across three continents. AngloGold Ashanti’s operations in South Africa currently comprise the following:
* The Mponeng and TauTona mines, situated in West Wits region;
* The Moab Khotsong mine (incorporating the Great Noligwa mine) and the Kopanang mine situated in the Vaal River region;
* The MWS tailings retreatment operation situated in the Vaal River region; and
* The surface rock dump reclamation operations located primarily in the Vaal River region.
AngloGold Ashanti’s global portfolio contains a number of brownfields and greenfields development options, including:
* The life extension project at the Mponeng mine;
* The redevelopment of the Obuasi mine and the mine-life extension at Iduapriem in Ghana;
* The hard-rock project at the Siguiri mine in Guinea;
* The Long Island project at the Tropicana mine in Australia;
* The transitioning of the Kibali mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Geita mine in Tanzania from predominantly open pit to a combination of open pit and underground production; and
* The Greenfields development projects in Colombia including the Gramalote and Quebradona projects.
The Moab Khotsong mine also includes a brownfields mine-life extension option (“Project Zaaiplaats”), currently at pre-feasibility stage, which indicates a potential extension of the life of operations by more than 15 years.
AngloGold Ashanti has a large portfolio of operating assets and a range of attractive brownfields and greenfields development options with high returns and relatively short payback periods. The Company has a clear strategy to optimise returns and generate sustainable free cash flow, whilst maintaining balance sheet flexibility. Given these strategic imperatives and the range of options it has, there is a possibility that AngloGold Ashanti may not proceed with the development of Project Zaaiplaats in the medium term. AngloGold Ashanti therefore deemed it prudent, in line with its capital allocation strategy, to sell Moab Khotsong whilst it still has remaining life from existing Ore Reserves, along with the optionality provided by Project Zaaiplaats.
Earlier this year, AngloGold Ashanti indicated to its stakeholders that it would be reviewing its South African mining operations given their under-performance leading to heavy, and ultimately unsustainable, losses being incurred. On 28 June 2017 AngloGold Ashanti issued an announcement advising that it would be restructuring the South African operations to ensure their viability. This restructuring would include:
* Placing on care and maintenance the Kopanang mine and the Savuka section of the TauTona mine; and
* Evaluating the feasibility of integrating elements of the TauTona mine into the neighbouring Mponeng mine;
(collectively the “South African Restructuring”).
Subsequent to this announcement and based on unsolicited expressions of interest received from a number of parties, AngloGold Ashanti initiated a process to assess the sale of the Kopanang mine. This process has been successfully concluded with the announcement today that AngloGold Ashanti had entered into an agreement in terms of which Heaven-Sent SA Sunshine Investment Company Limited (“HSC”), a Chinese capital management company headquartered in Hong Kong, will acquire the Kopanang mine, the West Gold Plant and the related infrastructure (the “Kopanang Disposal”). HSC currently holds a 74% interest in Village Main Reef Limited which operates the Tau Lekoa Gold Mine in the Vaal River region. The Kopanang Disposal is still subject to a number of conditions including securing the requisite regulatory approvals. Once these conditions are fulfilled and this transaction closes, the Kopanang mine will not be placed on care and maintenance but would continue to operate under the ownership of HSC.
Following the sale of the Moab Mining Sale Assets and the Kopanang Disposal, AngloGold Ashanti will cease to have underground mining operations in the Vaal River region in South Africa.
AngloGold Ashanti will retain the long-life Mine Waste Solutions tailings retreatment operation, as well as the surface rock-dump reclamation operations in the Vaal River region, which will continue to be treated through the Kopanang gold plant which will be retained by AngloGold Ashanti. These two operations in the Vaal River region together with the long-life Mponeng mine in the West Wits region will form AngloGold Ashanti’s operating base in South Africa.