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Anglo reflects on a year of progress – eyes the future

2018 has in many ways been an interesting time for South Africa, for Anglo American and the mining industry.

This is an excerpt of Anglo American CEO, Mark Cutifani’s  address at the 2018 Anglo American South African Media Event held on 28 November 2018.

South Africa finally cracked the nut with the revised Mining Charter.

My colleagues and I are often asked what we think of the Charter and our response is pretty consistent:

The Charter, while not perfect, is a remarkable improvement from the previous version of the document.

More substantively, we are deeply encouraged by how the Department of Mineral Resources (under the leadership of Minister Mantashe) handled the debate and negotiation of the document.

Many of you would’ve heard us confirm that we expect to spend six billion dollars (or seventy-one billion rand) over the next five years on sustaining and extending the lives of our mining operations in South Africa.

Several other companies also announced their investment commitments, and it was truly heart-warming to see the spirit of optimism and eagerness to move this country’s economy forward.

More needs to be done of course, but I am sure we can all agree that we are in a much better place than we were a year ago.

Having been here for over 100 years, Anglo American recognises that government will not achieve this alone.

We have long been an active contributor to the country’s development and we will continue to do so going into the future.

That is very much our role and how we do business at Anglo American – it is about partnership.

The development of South Africa will not happen absent of mining’s own growth.

One of the highlights this year is the launch of our Purpose: our reason for being as a company. Our Purpose aims to answer the questions: “why does it matter that Anglo American is in this world?; what value do we add to society?; and what do we stand for as a business?”

Through extensive consultation inside and outside of the company, we landed on a phrase that absolutely reflects how Anglo American feels to me and the direction we are taking.

And it inspires me each time I say it. Our Purpose is to re-imagine mining to improve people’s lives. “Re-imagining mining”—that sounds dramatic, you might say.

But this is exactly what we are doing to envisage mining in the future.

We are thinking very differently about the physical processes of mining, processing and then across our entire value chain.

Many of you would’ve heard us speak about FutureSmart Mining. I’m sure you’ve heard our communication team speak about it ad nauseam to you.

Let me take this opportunity to reiterate a few things:

  • FutureSmart Mining is not a new “shiny thing” we’re flogging
  • It is also not limited to a set of technology development initiatives that we want to brag about;

Rather: it is about how we as a company are casting our eyes into the not-so-distant future and asking ourselves these questions:

Why do we exist in the world? What should our operations look like? What can we do differently for our host communities?

This is about step-change innovation – it is about our physical and societal footprint. FutureSmart Mining is our innovation-led approach to sustainable mining.

The technologies that we are developing and deploying to fundamentally change the way we extract, process and market our products will provide the next step-change in operating performance – creating significant safety improvements, and major energy, water and capital cost savings.

Our Sustainability Strategy will transform how our stakeholders experience Anglo American, from our environmental footprint to our collaborative approach to regional economic development.

Yes, it includes plenty of technological and digital innovation, but we are looking at innovation in its fullest sense—including how we think about stakeholder engagement or ethical governance, for instance.

I want to make something very clear tonight: for mining to have a place in South Africa, and indeed elsewhere in the world, we must be smarter, and more-cost-effective by using new (and existing) technologies and integrated thinking to materially improve how we operate.

This is how we, as a mining company with a colourful history in a country like South Africa, show up in the broader society. To enable our FutureSmart Mining journey, we will leverage our Sustainability Strategy.

The strategy is built around three global sustainability pillars: trusted corporate leader, thriving communities and healthy environment, with mutually reinforcing elements that together will positively transform how our stakeholders experience us.

We are setting deliberately ambitious stretch goals, three goals for each of the three sustainability pillars, and each operating site will develop its own five-year plan relevant to the operation’s local context, priorities and opportunities.

For example:

  • For thriving communities, our livelihood target is to create five jobs offsite for every job onsite in our operations by 2030; and to have three jobs offsite for every job onsite by 2025.
  • And our education target is to have all schools in our host communities operating in the top 20% of the state schools in the countries in which we operate by 2030. We’re already doing this work in South Africa.

South Africa, a country where a quarter of our assets are located, is going to play a key role in mining’s exciting future.

The work has already begun and I’m personally excited to see what the next century of mining will bring to South Africa.