Accounting policies



Property, plant and equipment

   (i) Mining assets, including mine development costs and mine plant facilities, are initially recorded at cost, after which they are measured at cost less accumulated depreciation and impairment. Costs include expenditure that is directly attributable to the acquisition of the items. Subsequent costs are included in the asset’s carrying amount or recognised as a separate asset as appropriate only when it is probable that future economic benefits associated with the item will flow to the group and the cost of the item can be measured reliably.
    At the group’s surface mines, when it has been determined that a mineral property can be economically developed as a result of establishing proved and probable reserves, costs incurred to develop the property are capitalised as incurred until the mine is considered to have moved into the production phase. These costs include costs to further delineate the orebody and remove overburden to initially expose the orebody. Stripping costs incurred during the production phase to remove waste ore are deferred and charged to production costs on the basis of the average life-of-mine stripping ratio. The average stripping ratio is calculated as the number of tonnes of waste material removed per tonne of ore mined. The average life-of-mine ratio is revised annually in the light of additional knowledge and change in estimates. The cost of "excess stripping" is capitalised as a mine development cost when the actual stripping ratio exceeds the average life-of-mine stripping ratio. Where the average life-of-mine stripping ratio exceeds the actual stripping ratio, the cost is charged to the income statement.
    At the group’s underground mines, all costs incurred to develop the property, including costs to access specific ore blocks or other areas of the underground mine, are capitalised to the extent that such costs will provide future economic benefits. These costs include the cost of shaft sinking and access, the cost of building access ways, lateral development, drift development, ramps, box cuts and other infrastructure development.
    During the development stage, the group may enter into arrangements whereby it agrees to transfer a part of its mineral interest in consideration for an agreement by another party (the farmee) to meet certain expenditure which would otherwise have to be undertaken by the group. Such arrangements, referred to as farm-in transactions, are accounted for as executory contracts – particularly when the expenditures to be incurred by the farmee are discretionary in nature, and the mineral interest to be transferred may vary depending upon such discretionary spend. At the date of completion of each party’s obligations under the farm-in arrangement, the group derecognises the proportion of the mining assets and liabilities associated with the joint venture that it has sold to the farmee, and recognises its interest in the capital expenditure (consideration received) at fair value within operating assets. The difference between the net disposal proceeds and the carrying amount of the asset disposed of is recognised in profit or loss.
    Borrowing costs are capitalised to the extent that they are directly attributable to the acquisition and construction of qualifying assets. Qualifying assets are assets that take a substantial time to get ready for their intended use. These costs are capitalised until the asset moves into the production phase. Other borrowing costs are expensed.
    The net assets of operations placed on care and maintenance are impaired to their recoverable amount. Expenditure on the care and maintenance of these operations is charged against income, as incurred.
    Where a depreciable asset is used in the construction or extension of a mine, the depreciation is capitalised against the mine’s cost.
   (ii)Non-mining assets: Land is shown at cost and not depreciated. Other non-mining fixed assets are shown at cost less accumulated depreciation and accumulated impairment losses.
   (iii) Undeveloped properties are initially valued at the fair value of resources obtained through acquisitions. The carrying value of these properties is tested annually for impairment. Once development commences, these properties are transferred to mining properties and accounted for in accordance with the related accounting policy.
   (iv) Mineral and surface use rights represent mineral and surface use rights for parcels of land both owned and not owned by the group. Mineral and surface rights include acquired mineral use rights in production, development and exploration phase properties. The amount capitalised related to a mineral and surface right represents its fair value at the time it was acquired, either as an individual asset purchase or as part of a business combination, and is recorded at cost of acquisition.
    Production phase mineral interests represent interests in operating properties that contain proved and probable reserves. Development phase mineral interests represent interests in properties under development that contain proved and probable reserves. Exploration phase mineral interests represent interests in properties that are believed to potentially contain (i) other mineralised material such as inferred material within pits; measured, indicated and inferred material with insufficient drill spacing to qualify as proved and probable reserves; (ii) around-mine exploration potential such as inferred material not immediately adjacent to existing reserves and mineralisation but located within the immediate mine infrastructure; (iii) other mine-related exploration potential that is not part of measured, indicated or inferred material and comprises mainly material outside of the immediate mine area; or (iv) greenfield exploration potential that is not associated with any production, development or exploration phase property as described above.
    The group’s mineral use rights are enforceable regardless of whether proved or probable reserves have been established. In certain limited situations, the nature of a use changes from an exploration right to a mining right upon the establishment of proved and probable reserves. The group has the ability and intent to renew mineral use rights where the existing term is not sufficient to recover all identified and valued proved and probable reserves and/or undeveloped mineral interests.
   (v)Leased assets: The group leases certain property, plant and equipment. Leases of property, plant and equipment where the group has substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership are classified as finance leases. The assets are capitalised at the lease’s commencement at the lower of the fair value of the leased property and the present value of the minimum lease payments.
    Finance lease payments are allocated using the rate implicit in the lease, which is included in finance costs, and the capital repayment, which reduces the liability to the lessor. The corresponding rental obligations, net of finance charges, are included in non-current borrowings, with the current portion included under current liabilities.
    Capitalised lease assets are depreciated over the shorter of their estimated useful lives and the lease terms.
   (vi)Depreciation and amortisation of mineral property interests, mineral and surface rights, mine development costs and mine plant facilities are computed principally by the units of production method over the life of mine, based on estimated quantities of economically recoverable proved and probable reserves, which can be recovered in future from known mineral deposits.
    In most instances, proved and probable reserves provide the best indication of the useful life of the group’s mines (and related assets). However, in some instances, proved and probable reserves may not provide a realistic indication of the useful life of the mine (and related assets). This may be the case, for example, where management is confident that further resources will be converted into reserves and are approaching economic decisions affecting the mine on this basis, but has chosen to delay the work required to designate them formally as reserves. Management’s confidence in the economical recovery of such resources may be based on historical experience and available geological information. In instances where management is able to demonstrate the economic recovery of such resources with a high level of confidence, such additional resources, as well as the associated future development costs of accessing those resources, are included in the calculation of depreciation and amortisation.
    Changes in management’s estimates of economically recoverable reserves and resources impact depreciation and amortisation on a prospective basis. During the 2010 financial year, the group revised its estimate of the useful lives of the Doornkop and Masimong operations to include certain resources in addition to proved and probable reserves. The inclusion of such resources resulted from increased confidence in the economic extraction of resources due to additional surface and underground drilling undertaken in the current year. The effect of including such resources in the useful life of these operations decreased annual depreciation by approximately R9 million (US$1 million).
   (vii) Depreciation and amortisation of non-mining fixed assets: Other non-mining fixed assets are depreciated on a straight line basis over their estimated useful lives as follows:
  • vehicles at 20% per year;
  • computer equipment at 33.3% per year;
  • commercial, off-the-shelf software at 50% per year; and
  • furniture and equipment at 16.67% per year.
    The assets’ residual values and useful lives are reviewed, and adjusted if appropriate, at each balance sheet date.
    Gains and losses on disposals are determined by comparing proceeds with carrying amount and are recognised in the income statement.
   (viii) Depreciation and amortisation of mineral and surface use rights: Mineral rights associated with production phase mineral interests are amortised over the life of mine using the units-of-production method in order to match the amortisation with the expected underlying future cash flows. Mineral interests associated with development and exploration phase mineral interests are not amortised until such time as the underlying property is converted to the production stage.
    For details on the group’s accounting policy on impairments, refer to note 2.8.