REG - Anglo American PLC - Anglo American Annual General Meeting Address

Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:30pm EDT

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Anglo American PLC
19 April 2012



19 April 2012

Anglo American plc

Annual General Meeting − Address to shareholders



Anglo American plc held its Annual General Meeting for shareholders in London today. Sir John Parker, Chairman, and Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, made the following remarks:


Sir John Parker, Chairman, Anglo American plc:


Good afternoon, everyone. Many of you, I know, have travelled a long way. I also see that we have here with us today interest groups from as far afield as Alaska and South Africa. May I extend a warm welcome to you all.



In opening my address this morning, I should like to say a few words about the governance of your company and what your Board has been doing to promote the long-term success of the company for all of its stakeholders.


The Board owns the strategy and its role encompasses the establishment, review and monitoring of strategic objectives. This includes taking a balanced and disciplined approach to capital management; the approval of major acquisitions, disposals and capital expenditure; and overseeing the company's systems of governance, internal control and risk management. It is also part of the Board's remit to approve business plans, budgets and all material expenditure.


But to do its job properly, any board has to have an appropriate set of skills and experience to challenge and stress-test its company's strategy. Since I became your Chairman some two and a half years ago, I have endeavoured, therefore, to ensure that your Board is a strong and influential one, while being reflective of a constantly changing business environment.


In terms of enhancing the Board's contribution to our affairs, during the year Anglo American's directors and the company's most senior executives participated in an internal strategy forum spanning nearly two days. I also reported back to the Board on its performance against the objectives set in an internally facilitated Board-effectiveness review conducted the previous year. In addition, I commissioned an external effectiveness review of the Board and its various committees; the results of that review will be detailed in the 2012 annual report.


At the AGM in 2011, the Board also became an 'early mover' in adopting the idea of annual re-election of directors as part of our commitment to setting the tone of the company's governance from the very top. We also reiterated our objective to increase the representation of women on the Board from 20 per cent to 30 per cent by 2013 (excluding the chairman).


I should like to thank all the members of the Board team collectively for their contribution to Board debates, as well as those individuals who are doing such sterling service on the Board's important committees.




I would also like to pay tribute to Cynthia Carroll and her management team. Cynthia, as many of you know by now, is a leader who works tirelessly in executing the Group's strategy. She has assembled an impressive executive team around her that I believe is best in class over a range of fields from exploration to mining engineering and environmental engineering, backed up by a highly skilled workforce.



Turning to some of the most important developments in our business over the past 12 months... Not surprisingly, I will start with Safety, because that remains our No. 1 agenda item. Most regrettably, the significant improvement in our safety performance over the previous four years was not maintained in 2011. The number of people who lost their lives while on company business increased to 17 from 15 the previous year − though that compares with 40 five years ago − while there was an accompanying levelling-out in our injury rate.


In light of this, we are redoubling our efforts to seek solutions, particularly at site level. The Board fully supports Cynthia in her drive to bring about real and lasting change in the way in which we approach safety − only by changing people's mindsets, and fostering a climate of openness, will we start to make lasting improvements and further progress towards our ultimate goal of zero harm Group-wide.



2011 was characterised by difficult conditions for many mining company operations around the world, and across the industry. In the early months, our Australian operations (and, to a somewhat lesser extent, those in Chile and South Africa) experienced exceptional flood conditions. Indeed, I saw the devastation for myself in Australia. Throughout the year, too, the effects of various operational difficulties were compounded by ongoing pressure on unit costs resulting from lower grade profiles and higher-than-inflation cost inputs, while in the second half we were confronted by a more uncertain macro-economic landscape.


Against this background, Anglo American recorded a sound set of financial and operational results. Operating profit rose by 14 per cent to a record $11.1 billion from $9.8 billion in 2010. The Board has proposed a final dividend of 46 cents per share, giving a total dividend for the year of 74 cents, a 14% increase, and at the higher end of market expectations.



It is very satisfying to report that in 2011 Anglo American commissioned no fewer than three major new mining operations, all of them on or ahead of schedule and in the lower half of the cost curve - an extraordinary achievement in an industry that is often criticised for its shortcomings in the project-delivery field. I have great confidence in the engineering and project-delivery ability of Anglo American.


The Barro Alto nickel project in Brazil came on stream in March, the Los Bronces copper expansion in Chile was commissioned in October and the Kolomela iron ore mine in South Africa shipped its first ore in December, five months ahead of schedule. 



We also continue to keep a close eye on value-enhancing M&A opportunities. A key development during the year was our announcing our intention to acquire the Oppenheimer family's interest in De Beers. This is a unique opportunity to gain control of the world's most famous diamond company - and its unsurpassed assets. As you know, in early January 2012, our shareholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the transaction, and we expect closure of the deal sometime in the second half of this year.




Shortly afterwards, we announced a major value-enhancing divestment with the sale of a 24.5 per cent interest in Anglo American Sur (AAS) in Chile to Mitsubishi for $5.4 billion. AAS, which includes the Los Bronces and El Soldado mines and the Chagres smelter, is a world-class copper business with extensive reserves and resources, and significant growth potential. The transaction enabled us to realise an attractive valuation for a minority stake in AAS, valuing 100 per cent of AAS at $22 billion - almost double that of analysts' valuations.


The decision by the Board to sell a 24.5 per cent stake in AAS was considered with the utmost care. We have acted to deliver very significant value to our shareholders, in full compliance with what is a very clear legal contract between ourselves and the Chilean state-owned copper producer, Codelco. We have also made it clear, from the outset, that we are wholly amenable to working with Codelco to find a commercial solution for the benefit of Codelco and for Chile, though such a solution must recognise our rights within the contract.


Anglo American has invested $6.5 billion in Chile over the past 30 years, and has paid more than $6 billion in taxes in the last five years alone, reflecting the strength of our relationship with the Chilean government, while our future investment plans for the country are also very considerable. Anglo American represents the very best standards and practices in our industry; we are an approachable company, but we stand up for what is right by our shareholders. 


Turning to another matter... Even though our Platinum business is performing in line with the rest of the platinum industry, we recognise that the current level of returns is not acceptable to our investors. With the full support of the Board, therefore, Cynthia and her team are carrying out a top-to-bottom review to ensure that the business is configured optimally to deliver value in the long term.



As the Chairman of a leading global mining company, I am often asked these days about the risks posed by the upwelling of resource nationalism. Certainly it is the case that countries are becoming far more aware, and protective, of the value of their mineral inheritance. Developing nations and developed economies alike are seeking to increase their share of the mining cake through a range of means, from establishing joint ventures with mining companies, to windfall taxes and increased royalties, and even in some cases threatening to push matters to the point of nationalisation of mining assets.

At the same time, the growing demand for metals and minerals means that mining companies are exploring in regions beyond their traditional mining jurisdictions, with all their attendant climatic, infrastructural, logistical, security and other challenges. This inevitably presents a heightened degree of risk and may be accompanied by political instability in some countries where good governance is still developing.



But where there is risk, there is generally opportunity - and it is the duty of the Board and management to seek out and unlock such opportunity. I believe the best way to do that is to always conduct ourselves to the highest standards of corporate conduct and to build strong links across the wide stakeholder spectrum.

In our own Group, our leadership in the social and sustainable development arena has been recognised once again by Business in the Community recently awarding Anglo American a platinum ranking in its 2012 Corporate Responsibility Index - the UK's leading voluntary benchmark of corporate responsibility. We are the only mining company to secure platinum status - and we have now done so for three years running, which is a great reflection on our people.


In recognising our responsibilities to all shades of stakeholders, we always need to bear in mind that there are important constituencies who may not be directly invested in companies such as Anglo American, but who are nevertheless influential stakeholders. They perform an important role, for example, in keeping up the pressure on our industry to act in a transparent and responsible manner, in examining the feasibility of ethical accreditation in respect of the origin of minerals and metals and, more generally, monitoring what companies such as Anglo American are doing on a wider, sustainable development canvas.

Our own long-held view on sustainable development is that, as a leading international player in the extractives industry, we should take a proactive approach, and that we should seek to take the lead in the key sustainability issues facing our industry.

But how does such an approach play out in practice?

Take the issue of water - a serious one for Anglo American because more than 80 per cent of our operations are in water-stressed regions. The need to use water wisely and efficiently has led us to establish a new Group technical standard for water management, while an important focus in 2011 was the implementation of our new Water Efficiency Target Tool across every single business unit. Current major water projects include building a desalination plant at Mantoverde copper mine in Chile and, in South Africa, doubling the capacity of the eMalahleni water treatment plant on the Witbank coalfield and bringing an assured supply of potable water for the first time to nearly two million people who neighbour one of our Eastern Limb platinum mines.


In the long run, climate change may well become a major issue for the mining industry, and Anglo American seeks to play its part in helping address its causes and mitigating its effects. We are an active and vocal participant in the debate that is taking place on a global, national and local level, and we areengaging with governments and other key stakeholders to develop equitable and effective climate-change policies, and to enable our communities to access clean energy. At a grassroots level, we are investing in clean coal research and development projects in Australia, South Africa and the US, and we are assisting in funding a private-public partnership to develop a fuel cells industry in South Africa. 

With regard to carbon abatement, we support government actions to put in place policies that lead to a long-term price on carbon - but we want to see this done in full consultation with stakeholders, from a solid fact base and over a realistic timeframe, so that it does not jeopardise jobs, industry competitiveness, or social and economic development.



I would like to turn now to say something about the Pebble copper project in Alaska … and I extend a warm welcome to those of you who have travelled from Alaska, including the Pebble Partnership's CEO John Shively, who is an Alaskan. I appreciate that here today we may have both critics and supporters of the Pebble project, as well as those who have not yet made up their minds but do support the project's right to be allowed to go through the permitting process. We are fully aware that there is a range of concerns over the project − we have an Alaskan management team at Pebble who understand this better than anyone. I would like to stress that it is our hope that all interested parties participate in what will be a very extensive dialogue and long drawn-out permitting process, and to base their opinions and decisions on the facts.



I believe we may have amongst us people representing former miners who claim to have contracted silicosis as a result of working in South Africa's gold mines. Anglo American is very sympathetic to the claimants' situation - but, more than that, we are doing something about it for those individuals whose claims in South Africa have taken so long to be resolved. As the Chairman of Anglo American, I want to assure you that progress is being made in alleviating those claimants' plight - as Cynthia will tell you in a few minutes.


We have listened, and we have acted.



Finally, turning to the economic outlook... In 2011, there was a distinct slowdown in the major emerging economies, alongside continuing fragility in the US and Europe. Thankfully, decisive policy response from the world's central banks has helped to stabilise financial markets and the broader economy. In the US, there are encouraging signs that the economy is finally shrugging off the effects of the financial crisis. In Europe, policymakers have headed off extreme downside risks, though some sizeable structural problems remain in many economies.


In China, the economy has slowed in response to earlier policy restraints on the housing market. With growing evidence of a much-needed adjustment, there is scope for some selective policy easing to cushion the economy. In the medium to long term, China and India will continue to benefit from technological and productivity catch-up, driving sustained strong growth. Rising living standards and a growing middle class should drive more demand for industrial commodities. In addition, The US should overcome its recent difficulties, with a resumption of healthier long-term growth rates as positive trends in demographics and productivity reassert themselves.




Cynthia Carroll, Chief Executive, Anglo American plc:



Over the past five years we have been on a journey to transform Anglo American into a leader in the mining industry, a company that delivers on its commitments by driving for performance and shareholder value.


The transformation started with safety. We developed a performance culture, a more efficient organisational structure, and a more joined-up business capturing synergies across the Group.


We turned around business unit performance and became a cohesive company, with a clear vision and strategy, and with the ability to successfully deliver large complex projects.


We established relationships with governments, unions and other stakeholders around the world.


And we are now reaping the benefits and the rewards of that transformation. In 2011, four out of seven business units delivered record operating profit.


Take Metallurgical Coal, for example. In 2007, the business barely broke even. The transformation we began in Australia five years ago delivered record profits in 2010 and 2011. As you all know, in 2008 we took the hard decision to invest through the downturn.


The result is that, in 2011, three of our four big, complex projects were delivered on or ahead of schedule. It is really an extraordinary achievement to commission three major new mining operations in the same year.


Our Los Bronces expansion project, one of the most challenging and complex in the world, started production five months ago and is already operating at 75 per cent of capacity - an outstanding achievement. At full production, Los Bronces will more than double current volumes.


The Barro Alto project in Brazil, which we commissioned a year ago, is already operating at 70 per cent of capacity. It will increase production from our Nickel business by 180 per cent.


The Kolomela iron ore mine in South Africa, was commissioned five months ahead of schedule, and is already producing at around 50 per cent of capacity. In December, we shipped our first load of iron ore from the new mine.


In the meantime, our asset optimisation and supply chain initiatives delivered $3.2 billion worth of value in 2011 against a target of $2 billion.


In addition, we are delivering transformational, value-generating transactions, with the acquisition of the Oppenheimer family's stake in De Beers and the sale of a minority interest in our Chilean copper business to Mitsubishi.


We are, however, facing some headwinds, including calls for higher taxes and royalties, rising input costs, shortages of skilled workers, infrastructure constraints and tighter environmental regulations.


There are also the constant challenges of depleting resources, declining grades at existing mines, and the diminishing likelihood of finding large-scale, world-class deposits.


Despite these challenges, our efforts delivered an operating profit of $11.1 billion in 2011, an increase of 14 per cent on 2010. Underlying earnings were up 23 per cent to $6.1 billion.


Dividend pay-outs were 74 cents per share for the year. These are results for which you, our shareholders, along with our management and employees, should feel justifiably proud.


We still have much work to do, and other challenges lie ahead.



Turning to safety...


Over the past five years we lifted safety standards and put systems in place across the Group to improve performance.


The result has been a 57 per cent reduction in fatalities across the Group.


Platinum operations have seen a 52 per cent reduction. Despite these figures, safety performance at Platinum has, and continues to be, our biggest challenge.


We are determined to reach a point where we have zero fatalities, and we have taken bold steps to bring about cultural change.


In 2007, we shut down Platinum operations following a number of fatalities.


In November last year, I went to South Africa to address 30,000 Platinum employees, joined by Neville Nicolau, Norman Mbazima as well as trade union leaders and government safety inspectors to re-emphasise our commitment and our drive towards zero harm. There I launched 'Zero Harm in Action', an initiative that aims to bring about a cultural transformation in Platinum by applying a zero-tolerance approach to unsafe behaviour.


We have shown zero harm is achievable in all parts of the organisation, including Platinum's operations.


In 2011, excluding Platinum, Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates dropped by 16 per cent, while at 91 per cent of our operations there was not a single fatal injury.


But we had 17 fatalities last year... and that's 17 too many.


We still have a long way to go on safety.



Looking ahead, although there continues to be uncertainty in the global economy in the short term, particularly in Europe, I remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for Anglo American's diversified mix of commodities.


Despite China's slowdown and structural adjustment towards a consumption driven economy, its inland provinces, are experiencing and will experience double-digit growth over the next decade.


In India, a growing middle class and rising disposable incomes should continue to drive demand for coal, diamonds and platinum group metals.


In the emerging economies overall, we expect sustained growth driven by rising increasing standards.



Anglo American is well placed to take advantage of medium to long term growth in the developed and emerging economies, having one of the largest, most diversified and balanced growth pipelines in the mining industry, with around $100 billion in total projects.


Our project pipeline will allow us to increase production by more than 50 per cent by the end of 2014, by 75 per cent in the medium term, and 100 per cent in the longer term.


As you know, our largest strategic growth project is Minas-Rio in Brazil.


This is a high-quality Tier One iron ore asset. It has a large and expandable resource base, which currently stands at 5.8 billion tonnes.


At full production, the delivered cash cost to China will be around $45 to $50 a tonne. This is at the very low end of the cost curve.


And we are making good progress.


Earthworks at the beneficiation plant are 86 per cent complete. More than 94 per cent of land access has been secured along the pipeline, compared to 86 per cent a year ago. More than 200 kilometres - or 38 per cent - of the pipeline has been installed.


As to be expected, we are encountering environmental realities such as caves, while land access and permitting in an ever-changing regulatory environment, adds complexity.


Since the start of activities at Minas-Rio, we have experienced seven State legal interruptions relating to different environmental licences and permitting processes.


In March, work was suspended for three days on parts of the beneficiation plant, following a legal interruption on archaeological studies that had been carried out in the mine area.


In all cases, but one, activities were able to continue or were suspended for just a few days.


We are currently in discussions about another legal interruption notification on a power transmission line licence, and we are confident construction activity on the line will resume soon.


Added to these challenges are rising labour and construction costs in Brazil.


But we are overcoming these by implementing cost-reduction programmes, engaging proactively with permitting authorities and locking in labour costs to deliver first ore on ship in the second half of 2013 - within the 15 per cent capital increase we announced to the market.


We are also maintaining momentum on our next phase of growth, where in 2011 we got Board approval for six growth projects across six commodities.


These projects are in the right commodities, at the low end of the cost curve, offering attractive returns.


They include our five million tonnes a year Grosvenor export metallurgical coal project in Queensland, where we have also been awarded preferred respondent status for the development of a dedicated 30 million tonne export coal terminal at Abbot Point.


In the meantime, our eyes are fixed firmly on the next generation of Tier One assets.


Since 1999, our exploration team has made 15 major discoveries and received international recognition for Los Sulfatos in Chile and Sakatti in Finland.


Our discovery of copper, nickel and platinum group metals at Sakatti in northern Finland is a great example of our greenfield exploration expertise.


We are using innovative drilling technology to deliver value and reduce our environmental impact as we work towards defining the resource.



We do, however, have some other challenges.


They are challenges we are meeting with confidence and the full weight of Anglo American values of integrity, accountability, collaboration, and care and respect.


Above all, we are facing these challenges with the courage of our convictions in the knowledge that this company stands for the very best.


I will start with Codelco...


Adding to the comments Sir John made earlier, I wish to reaffirm that your company is ready to work with Codelco on a commercial solution.


We are open to sensible negotiations conducted in good faith, but we will not be moved from defending our very clear rights and protecting value for our shareholders.


This is how we do business − with integrity and a spirit of collaboration.


Codelco's management knew what our alternatives were - we made them very clear on a regular basis − in terms of selling down our holdings to a third party prior to any valid exercise of the option, and it sought to prematurely exercise the option.


Unfortunately, it has not yet been possible to reach a settlement that takes account of Anglo American's strong legal position.


Moving to Platinum...


Since 2007, we have made significant progress on the Platinum business, delivering improvements in safety, increasing production, containing costs and increasing productivity.


In 2011, operating profits increased to $890 million despite 81 safety stoppages at our own operations.


We have seen substantial improvement, and the returns have been in line with the rest of the industry.


However, these returns have declined in recent years and are not acceptable to us for the medium to long term.


The platinum industry faces significant challenges, including cost inflation, safety stoppages and lingering concerns over European demand.


As a result, we are embarking on a review to assess the optimal configuration of the Platinum portfolio.


We are doing this with a single purpose in mind - maximising shareholder value and returns through the cycle.


We expect to complete the review by the end of the year.


Turning to the Pebble project in Alaska...


I wish to welcome visitors and friends from Alaska who are with us today.


As you are aware, we are still developing a proposal for a mine plan to take to permitting.


So we have not yet even put preliminary plans on the table. 


This is an early-stage project.


Nevertheless, we understand the environmental sensitivities. 


That's why Pebble has spent more than $120 million on a ground-breaking environmental study, something that to the best of our knowledge has never before done on such a scale for a project anywhere in the world.


The information we have gathered will be considered carefully in the process of defining what a project may look like.


So, as of today, no mine plan has been finalised.


Yet there are organisations in the United States, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, that are distributing misinformation to thousands, if not millions, of Americans.


My 89-year-old mother, who is sitting in the audience, and lives in New Jersey, receives regularly personalised correspondence and pamphlets from the NRDC making outlandish claims, on the implications of a mine which has not even been defined, or submitted for review, by the rigorous  permitting processes of the United States. 


This correspondence claims that - and I quote:


"The mine would be absolutely huge in scale, with a gaping pit wide enough to line up nine of the world's longest cruise ships, and deep enough to swallow the Empire State Building." 


And the reality is that salmon and mining can co-exist, and we see examples in Alaska such as Red Dog and Fort Knox, where mining and fishing do co-exist. Another example is in British Columbia, where the Fraser River had a record salmon count of 34 million in 2010. 


This is a proven fact.


So Anglo American will approach the Pebble project as we do with all projects, with care for the people and the environment; with professionalism and integrity; and on the basis of rigorous science, not inflammatory rhetoric.


I ask people to consider the facts before wrongly misrepresenting the situation.



I would like to add my own voice to that of the Chairman and express my personal sympathy and concern.


At the AGM last year, I informed shareholders that a proposal would be developed to provide appropriate medical treatment for those claimants who had instituted proceedings in South Africa against Anglo American, prior to the date of the proposal.


The cost of this treatment would be borne entirely by Anglo American, and the treatment would continue for as long as it took for the claims to be finally resolved in court. 


The proposal was made and accepted.


Since then, Anglo American South Africa has worked with all parties and agreed on the best possible way to provide this medical care.


All 16 available claimants in South Africa have been examined and are receiving ongoing care, support and treatment.




Our care for the health of our people and the development of the communities in which we operate sets us apart in the industry.


There are no better examples than our HIV/AIDS testing and treatment initiatives and our Zimele enterprise development programme.


Anglo American is a world leader in these areas and it is something we should all be proud of.


In 2011, more than 110,000 of our people were tested for HIV in South Africa alone.


More than 90 per cent of our employees in southern Africa participated in voluntary HIV counselling and testing. More than 60 per cent of HIV-positive employees in southern Africa participated in disease-management programmes.


And more than 4,500 employees received free anti-retroviral drugs. 


In June last year, we pledged $3 million over three years to the UK Government-led Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations. This is a public-private partnership that is increasing access to immunisation in the world's poorest countries.


In January this year, I joined other world business leaders at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, to launch the Business Leadership Council for a Generation Born HIV-Free. This is a private-sector-led initiative that aims to end the transmission of HIV from mothers to children by the end of 2015.


Our Zimele enterprise development programme was the first mining initiative to be recognised by the United Nations' Business Call to Action.


We committed to a job creation target in South Africa of 25,000 by 2015.


We have invested $78 million in more than 1,000 new small businesses that have already generated more than 19,500 jobs, largely outside of direct mining.


In total, around the world, we have created more than 47,000 new jobs as part of small enterprises.


More than 36 per cent of Zimele-supported businesses are run by female entrepreneurs, and more than 48 per cent are run by young people.


Five years ago there was only one Zimele main office in South Africa - today there are 31 enterprise development hub offices.


These are real jobs making a real and positive difference to local communities.


In addition to this, the fact that 66 per cent of our total operational water requirements are met by recycling or re-using water, and you can see and appreciate that our approach to sustainability is a key differentiator for Anglo American.


Sustainability is fundamental to the way we do business and is embedded in everything we do.



In closing, I reiterate that the journey we embarked on five years ago to transform Anglo American into a performance driven company is delivering real value for you, our shareholders.


We have come a long way by transforming the safety culture; streamlining the organisational structure; bringing in people with the right skills; and capturing synergies and efficiencies across the Group.


We have done this while building relationships with stakeholders around the world - underpinned by a clear vision and strategy.


So, we continue on our journey and work through the challenges with determination and the courage of our convictions, while caring for people and protecting the environment.


Above all, we have world-class assets on which to build an even stronger future - and great people committed to making a difference.


This is what sets Anglo American apart and positions us well to deliver value for you - and prosperity for the communities in which we operate.


Note to editors:

Anglo American is one of the world's largest mining companies, is headquartered in the UK and listed on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges. Anglo American's portfolio of mining businesses spans bulk commodities - iron ore and manganese, metallurgical coal and thermal coal; base metals - copper and nickel; and precious metals and minerals - in which it is a global leader in both platinum and diamonds.  Anglo American is committed to the highest standards of safety and responsibility across all its businesses and geographies and to making a sustainable difference in the development of the communities around its operations. The company's mining operations, extensive pipeline of growth projects and exploration activities span southern Africa, South America, Australia, North America, Asia and Europe.



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