MARK Cutifani, who will step into the CEO’s seat at Anglo American in the next few weeks, said that, by confronting seven issues that spook foreign investors, South Africa’s mining industry can “turn the dial” and begin growing again.
Speaking at a dinner in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Thursday night, organised by the Chamber of Mines and attended by Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, Mr Cutifani said 2013 represents a “starting point for a new future for the mining industry”.
South Africa’s mining industry has flagged in recent years, battling a stream of bad news. This included the Marikana shootings last year and former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema’s campaign for mines to be nationalised.
It meant that while the JSE’s all-share index climbed 60% from 2008 onwards, South Africa’s mining firms did not grow at all. Mr Cutifani pointed out that “in real terms, when you take into account inflation, that means we’ve destroyed about 30% value”.
Mr Cutifani, an Australian mining engineer, will take charge of Anglo American at its London head office. He has successfully led AngloGold Ashanti for the last six years. During that time, the company was the best-performing miner in terms of share-price growth and return on capital.
But he faces a tough new challenge at Anglo American, which has fallen behind rivals BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
Mr Cutifani highlighted labour issues in South Africa’s mining sector as one of the seven key areas that “scare investors on a global basis” and which have been raised by Anglogold Ashanti’s shareholders in the last six months.
These issues are:
• Eskom’s plans to dramatically hike power prices;
• Transnet’s threat to raise prices for mining firms;
• Fears that the government could declare some minerals as “strategic”;
• Wage discussions in the platinum and gold sectors;
• Threats to licences;
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