Anglo committed to Africa: Carroll

7 February 2008

Global mining giant Anglo American has committed itself to remaining a major investor in South Africa and Africa, citing the “unparalleled opportunities” created by the continent’s vast mineral reserves and improving economic environment.

Addressing the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday, Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll also put to rest fears that the company might disinvest from the country due to the current power shortage, stating that the problem was neither a disaster nor unique to South Africa, as her company was experiencing similar problems in Chile and Brazil.

“I think it is important, though, to set the context as to why Anglo American, as a major mining group, intends to remain a major – and, hopefully, the major, investor – in African mining going forward,” said Carroll, the first woman CEO in the company’s history.

She explained that Africa is estimated to have the best unexploited or under-exploited mineral reserves. Though it covers only 20% of the planet’s landmass, Africa is estimated to have 88% of global platinum reserves, 40% of gold reserves and 73% of the world’s diamond reserves.

“Quite simply, we see Africa as a land of unparalleled opportunity for the mining and extractive industries,” she said.

Business Day reported on Wednesday that some 110 000 out of 150 000 of Anglo American’s labour force was employed in Africa, while the continent accounted for US$4-billion of the group’s $12-billion project pipeline.

According to the paper, Anglo American’s exploration expenditure on the continent would rise to R485-million this year, up from R375-million last year and R285-million in 2006.

Apart from possessing vast natural resources, Carroll noted that Africa was also empowering itself to benefit its people.

“Africa has been making great strides toward its own regeneration. The continent as a whole has been enjoying [gross domestic product] growth of 5.7% a year since 2003,” she said. “And here in South Africa, where the ANC government has presided over such sound management of the economy, you have grown at 4.5% a year over the past five years.”

Ingenuity, partnerships
Carroll told delegates from both public and private sectors to focus on finding solutions to South Africa’s current electricity supply shortage rather than assigning blame.

“Sure, the problems here are serious, and overcoming them will require a lot of ingenuity, especially in energy efficiency and energy saving, as well as the development of alternative power supplies,” she said. “But if all of us can forge strong partnerships to tackle the present situation, we will all come through – I hope relatively unscathed – at the other end.”

She said that from her company’s perspective, it meant a preparedness to commit the managerial and technical resources and time of senior executives to finding ways to devise and deliver solutions toward improved energy efficiency.

“Over the decade 2004 to 2014, we plan to improve our group’s overall energy efficiency by 15%,” Carroll said. “The present circumstances should act as a spur to for us to do even better.”

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews

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