Anglo American is today providing an update on how it is supporting its employees, host communities and countries of operation in its global response to the fast-evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
Anglo American Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, said: “Society is facing the greatest threat to global health in a century. Safety is at the heart of all that we do at Anglo American, and we are doing all that we can to safeguard our people and their families from the spread of COVID-19, while also providing support to our host communities and countries where it’s most needed.
“Across our operations we have implemented all the appropriate health, hygiene and distancing measures aimed at protecting our colleagues’ safety and health, while also responding to our local communities’ needs by continuing to provide many essential services. We are maintaining the security and integrity of our assets and the supply of essential raw materials to customers, preserving our ability to return operations to normal levels as swiftly as possible when appropriate. We want to ensure we are ready to support what will be a crucial economic recovery phase for the countries in which we operate and the global economy.”
“We are a global mining company, with a longstanding commitment as a leader in responsible mining and we have a vital role to play in delivering support to our host communities throughout this difficult time. The broad-based economic and social contribution that mining makes cannot be underestimated, particularly so in the safe and efficient functioning of our host communities.
“In addition to these continuing benefits and the essential services that we provide in many communities, we are also responding directly with additional support aimed squarely at the health and economic effects of COVID-19. These additional measures are tailored to the specific needs of our host communities and include providing additional hospital facilities, beds, medical equipment and PPE, while also providing accommodation to health professionals. We are continuing to increase and broaden our monetary and in-kind support as conditions and needs evolve.
“Throughout this global pandemic, we are guided by our Purpose and we are staying true to our values. Consistent with the extended breadth of our support to local and regional communities, I would like to thank our colleagues across the globe for their continued hard work and dedication to stay safe, fit and healthy during these challenging times.”
Our employees are at the heart of our business and we’ve taken decisive, wide-ranging measures that are stringently applied to protect both the health and well-being of them and their families.
Our people and their families are naturally worried about COVID-19, and the impact that government measures to control it will have on their livelihoods. While the commercial impacts of this crisis will likely be significant for many businesses, we are doing all that we can to insulate our employees during this period. For example, in South Africa where the most extensive operational impact is currently felt, we have committed to continue paying the salaries of all of our 47,000 employees during the 21-day lockdown period, ensuring that they are able to focus on the health and safety of their families and their local communities.
To that end, we have implemented an extensive health awareness and support programme called “WeCare”, specifically to protect the health and wellbeing of our more than 90,000 employees and full-time contractors around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this programme, we are helping colleagues better understand how to protect themselves and others from catching the virus, monitoring their health to pick up early symptoms, and to manage their health if they test positive for COVID-19.
Community Response Plans
In order to provide the most effective and relevant support to our communities, we have designed a Community Response Plan (CRP) to guide site teams as to the initiatives that should be undertaken to support their host communities. The CRP has been developed by engaging with our communities, traditional and faith leaders, and government agencies to understand their identified needs and ensure we provide the right support at the right time, both during the pandemic and into the vital economic recovery phase. We have produced guidance for our operations on how best to respond and have made this publicly available for other companies to use (https://socialway.angloamerican.com/).
Our direct response to address the effects of COVID-19 is tailored to the specific and most urgent needs of our host communities and countries, recognising their very different socio-economic factors. The main elements of our response are set out below, by country:
Anglo American operates in many areas of South Africa that are underdeveloped. This places a responsibility on us, as South Africa’s largest mining company, to act with the utmost consideration and care towards those who live in our host communities and depend on us – particularly during a time such as this.
Across several provinces, our operations play a vital role in many of our host communities and we are committed to supporting them. In many instances, we drive the development and maintenance of essential infrastructure and services including roads, health facilities, medication, clean water, and energy, which are needed now more than ever.
As is the case globally, our overwhelming priority is the safety and health of our people and their families. We are continuing to operate only where we can do safely and by having all appropriate health measures in place. If we believe we cannot operate in a way that adequately protects our people or our communities, we will adjust our plans on a site-by-site basis.
Even with certain operations at a reduced level of activity, this means we can most effectively support the government’s proactive efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. For example, it enables us to have the people and resources in place to continue providing chronic medication to those who need it, make health infrastructure available to support the national effort, and provide access to basic provisioning such as food and water during this crisis. As a result of keeping our coal mines operating, for example, we are able to keep our water treatment plant in Mpumalanga open, ensuring community members have access to clean water at this critical time.
We are also able to continue generating economic value for South Africa at a time when it needs it most. We have a duty to help keep South Africa’s economic wheels turning so that people get paid, so that essential services can continue, so that the government earns some taxes, but we must do so in a way that keeps people healthy. Despite operating at reduced levels in South Africa, we are still spending approximately US$125 million per week on procurement of goods and services from our suppliers and on wages, while also generating vital export earnings for the country.
In addition to the continued provision of a wide variety of essential community services across the country that are business as usual for us, we are providing a number of other services in our host communities to aid the country’s response to the pandemic, including:
- Providing water tanks to 69 villages in our host communities
- Providing support to 70 local clinics by:
- Producing educational videos on COVID-19 and how to keep your family safe
- Training of clinic staff and community healthcare workers
- Supplying clinical PPE and cleaning materials
- Providing 6,000 food parcels per month for three months to vulnerable households in quarantine
- Communicating with our people via our community engagement app, providing social connection, isolation instructions and mental health support
- Partnering with the Department of Health to identify suitable isolation and quarantine facilities and equipping them to the required specifications
- Our Ulysses Gogi Modise (UGM) Primary Healthcare Centre is open to the public and is providing much-needed healthcare services and testing
- Assisting government with emergency medical response (EMR) through the provision of 6 ambulances in the Northern Cape
- Providing critical medical equipment such as masks, thermometers, surgical gloves, additional beds and tent structures at the Postmasburg Hospital in the Northern Cape
- Making our Highveld Hospital available for use to treat COVID-19 patients by:
- Installing 85 additional bed units
- Moving regular patients to other private hospitals in the area, freeing up an additional 107 beds that can be used as isolation beds
- Recommissioning the tuberculosis ward to be able to treat COVID-19 patients in isolation
- Sanitising pay-points and distributing language-friendly pamphlets to the elderly.
We are also providing significant support to small- and medium-sized businesses, including a payment holiday until the end of June on any loans, communication around any government support that is available to them, and working closely with our supply chain to ensure that there is adequate support on their contracts and inclusive procurement.
In Australia, the resource sector has been deemed an essential service and we continue to operate, with all appropriate safety, health and hygiene measures and social distancing protocols in place. We are working closely with government authorities, industry and community organisations to ensure a coordinated approach to reducing the spread of COVID-19 and to keep the communities where we operate safe.
We are working closely with our communities to understand how we can best support people who are impacted, including reducing our payment terms for all small-to-medium businesses to 14 days, supporting vulnerable groups through our grants programme, and helping with critical supplies to regions.
We are also reducing commuter workforce movements through our communities by stopping non-essential travel to our sites and relocating some people to live locally. Furthermore, we are moving from using commercial to charter flights for our workforce to ensure social distancing and hygiene measures are complied with and to further reduce interaction with the public.
In Botswana, diamonds in general, and the Government’s partnership with De Beers in particular, have played a central role in the country’s socio-economic development. The Debswana (50:50 JV between the Government and De Beers) mines in the country, and the medical facilities that the business has established around them, are providing vital support to Botswana’s medical preparations in relation to COVID-19. This support includes:
- Making facilities available to be utilised by Government health authorities as treatment / isolation centres
- Making two ambulances available to support wider healthcare efforts in the country
- Compiling databases of retired medical personnel from Jwaneng and Orapa Hospitals for Government health authorities
- Collaborating with District Health response teams to jointly identify and support vulnerable households
- Providing local government with financial support to assist with procurement of supplies, as well as donating much needed items such as sanitiser.
In Brazil, our operations continue with all appropriate safety, health and hygiene measures and social distancing protocols in place.
We are donating respirators and PPE equipment to the healthcare systems in the states and municipalities where our operations are located. The ventilators are being assembled for delivery to 9 municipalities in three states (Minas Gerais, Goiás and Rio de Janeiro). Our teams are also participating in various municipal crisis response committees, offering our support in emergency response and crisis management.
We are also providing a variety of health and hygiene related educational materials on prevention and response to local municipalities, and funding information campaigns aimed at our local communities on radio and via social media.
In Canada, De Beers’ Gahcho Kué mine is located in a remote northern area where smaller communities provide a significant proportion of the workforce. As such, De Beers has engaged with IBA partners to ensure that employees from communities that are especially vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 are able to isolate themselves and avoid the risk of bringing an infection back to the community. Shift patterns for workers at the Gahcho Kué mine have been adapted to minimise the amount of travel required. Gahcho Kué mine has also provided funding to each IBA community to purchase food hampers for at-risk community members.
In Chile, our operations continue with all appropriate safety, health and hygiene measures and social distancing protocols in place.
We have set up an emergency fund that will support the supply of key medical and other items, as well as stimulate local economic recovery once the pandemic eases. Our efforts are focused in the Metropolitan and Valparaíso regions, where our operations are located.
The delivery of these supplies will be channelled through the municipal Health Services and the Neighbourhood Councils, to ensure our efforts are targeting the priority areas.
We are also planning to implement a series of initiatives that seek to support the vital economic recovery phase for our local communities. The initiatives include the strengthening of the Emerge and EmpleaT programmes, which are focused on promoting employment and entrepreneurship at the local level; supporting local SMEs through financing alternatives for re-entrepreneurship; and the unemployed, through training opportunities with local networks.
We have also put in place measures to support the contractors and suppliers to our operations. From 1 April 2020, suppliers whose contracts require bank guarantee slips will be able to replace them with guarantee insurance, a measure that will allow them to improve their liquidity and ensure they are able to continue doing business. The value of the guarantee can be between 5% and 20% of the value of the contract. This initiative will benefit 215 of our suppliers and contractors in Chile.
In the north of Chile, the Collahuasi mine (in which Anglo American owns a 44% interest) has donated a state of the art COVID-19 testing machine, which generates results in 4 hours, to its local Tarapacá Health Service.
In Namibia, Namdeb Holdings (50:50 JV between the Government and De Beers) plays a key role both nationally and in local communities surrounding diamond recovery areas. Namdeb Holdings and the Debmarine Namibia-Namdeb Foundation have already put in place a range of support both nationally and at a local level in support of the country’s response to COVID-19. This includes the following:
- Making facilities available to be utilised by Government health authorities as treatment/isolation centres
- The Debmarine Namibia–Namdeb Foundation has ordered 30 ventilators and vital signs monitors for local hospitals, mainly in Windhoek and Oranjemund
- The Debmarine Namibia–Namdeb Foundation is co-funding a sanitation programme in Windhoek’s informal settlement where households are at high risk due to lack of sanitation services and inability to self-isolate
- In the town of Oranjemund, Namdeb has provided specific support including the provision of isolation facilities, the purchase of a testing machine (with a commitment that residents without medical aid will be tested for free), personal protective equipment (PPE) for Oranjemund Town Council employees and financial support for the publication of local COVID-19 education material. Isolation facilities have also been provided in the town of Luderitz.
In Peru, a national quarantine is in place until 12 April and all but critical work on our Quellaveco copper project is suspended.
We are supporting emergency efforts in the country and in the area local to our project to combat COVD-19 by providing much needed food, protective equipment, testing kits, transport and intensive care facilities, including:
- 12,000 non-perishable food packages plus 3,000 packages with agicultural products distributed to families in various districts and provinces in Moquegua, where the Quellaveco project is located
- 4,350 meal packs a day to health employees and volunteers, the army and police
- 500,000 COVID-19 quick testing kits in partnership with the National Mining Society’s initiative
- 10,000 protection masks and pairs of gloves for police and army forces
- Vehicles to help transport health personnel
- 6 intensive care bed stations, with all required equipment, including ventilators.
In the UK, we have made available 13 apartments in our St Andrews House building, which forms part of the Group’s new London headquarters, for NHS staff working at the nearby St Bart’s Hospital over the next three months.
Our De Beers operation in Maidenhead has converted its 3D printers from developing parts for synthetic detection machines, to instead making headbands for the face shields that form part of the PPE being worn by healthcare staff. The four printers will be working 24 hours a day and we expect to produce between 25 and 30 of these headband components per day.
At our Woodsmith Project, we are currently exploring ways in which we can further support a number of existing local initiatives.
Anglo American’s response extends to numerous other countries and territories where we have a presence beyond our mining operations, where we are conducting exploration work, for example. These include Ecuador, where we have sourced and are distributing thousands of essential support kits to medical facilities in the many small communities around our exploration project, including gloves, masks and sanitising gel. And in Zambia we are providing hygiene essentials as well as fuel to help local government distribute information leaflets to communities.
Anglo American will continue to provide all the appropriate support that it possibly can – focused not only on this current phase of prevention and response to the pandemic itself, but also into the all-important recovery phase when the swift resumption of economic activity will be so important.