SOURCE: AngloGold Ashanti

June 01, 2005 15:00 ET

Human Rights Watch Report on AngloGold Ashanti's Activities in the DRC

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 1, 2005 -- AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) notes the publication of a report today by the US-based NGO, Human Rights Watch, titled "The Curse of Gold." In investigating and reporting on AngloGold Ashanti's activities in the Ituri region of the DRC, the report alleges that, through its presence in the region, AngloGold Ashanti gave tacit support to militia groups and, in doing this, acted inconsistently with the company's business principles. The company denies this claim.

Appended to this media release is a copy of our response sent to Human Rights Watch yesterday, Tuesday 31 May, 2005. That letter deals with the detail of various matters in the report with which we take issue.

There are, however, a few broader issues we would first like to address.

Firstly, yielding to any form of extortion by an armed militia or anyone else is contrary to the company's principles and values. It is not condoned by AngloGold Ashanti, under any circumstances. That there was a breach of this principle in this instance, in that company employees yielded to the militia group FNI's act of extortion is regretted. In mitigation, it should be noted that as soon as it came to our attention we publicly acknowledged it, condemned it and said it would not happen again.

Secondly, in contemplating whether to operate in a conflict zone, we believe we have a moral right to do so only if, after due consideration, we can honestly conclude that, on balance, our presence will enhance the pursuit of peace and democracy.

Our decision to resume operating in the DRC was based on a range of factors. First, the area covered by our activities has been producing gold since the beginning of last century and remains highly prospective. We believe that, if our exploration programme does yield a mine, it will be of significant benefit to the DRC government and local communities, by providing revenue, employment and access to social development opportunities -- and, of course, returns to our shareholders.

Second, AngloGold Ashanti was given the repeated assurance of the DRC Government, at various levels, that it was confident that, with the continuing collaboration of the UN force MONUC, the peace and political processes would yield positive results in the Ituri region and beyond.

It was on this basis that we began to establish a base in Mongbwalu at the end of 2003. It is important to note that exploration only began there at the beginning of 2005.

AngloGold Ashanti does not and will not support militia or any other groups whose actions constitute an assault on efforts to achieve peace and democracy. We have acknowledged the payment by AngloGold Ashanti Kilo to the FNI in January of an extorted sum of $8000, and further sums totalling about $1000 last year in respect of an unauthorised arrangement related to cargo delivered to the local airstrip. There are also instances of contact between FNI members and employees on site -- always at the FNI's behest, not ours.

In respect of the payments, we repeat that this will not reoccur. Should we find ourselves in a situation where there is pressure on our staff again to yield to extortionate demands, we will consider that to be grounds for our withdrawal from the exploration project.

We draw a distinction between support for a group such as the FNI, and some level of unavoidable contact. The contacts are a consequence simply of the proximity of our operation to local communities, some members of which are FNI members. It does not make us allies of the FNI, nor complicit in their activities which, in any event, we hope are now aimed at enhancing the peace process in that country.

For us, the key is whether we continue to believe that our presence in the Ituri region of the DRC enhances or obstructs the peace process. We believe that the opening up of economic activity is more likely to enhance it.

However, we accept that we are obliged continually to review the situation, and indeed will conduct a high level review in the immediate future.

Please click here to view the letter from AngloGold Ashanti to Human Rights Watch in response to its report:

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