* Anglo could consider Brazil partner "if makes economic
* Says "confident" costs will remain within revised
* Says will press ahead with platinum overhaul plan "as laid
By Clara Ferreira-Marques and Ed Stoddard
CAPE TOWN, Feb 5 Global mining group Anglo
American could bring a partner into Minas Rio, a
flagship iron ore asset in Brazil that has been battered by
delays and cost overruns, outgoing chief executive Cynthia
Carroll said on Tuesday.
The Minas Rio project was intended as a move to diversify
Anglo from its South African base and boost its presence in iron
But it has turned into a bruising top-of-the-market deal
that contributed to Carroll's fall from grace and imminent
departure from the company.
Anglo wrote $4 billion off the value of the asset last week,
and has said the mine would cost $8.8 billion to develop, more
than three times original estimates.
"If it makes economic sense we will pursue it. We have been
talking about a partnership for some time. We really need to
establish what that value is," Carroll told Reuters.
She declined to comment on any ongoing discussions.
Anglo, like many operators in Brazil, has come under
pressure from rising costs in a country where mining activity is
growing and the construction sector is booming ahead of the 2016
Olympic Games and the 2014 soccer World Cup.
Analysts have questioned forecasts of cost-per-tonne that
put Anglo below the industry average, but Carroll said she was
"confident" Anglo would stick to its revised cost estimates.
"There are always going to be surprises, but we have
enormous support from the government at all levels ... They
understand, they want that project to get off the ground because
it means jobs and tax revenues for them," Carroll said.
Carroll, who announced last year she would step down under
pressure from investors over poor returns, will be replaced by
current AngloGold Chief Executive Mark Cutifani.
At the top of Cutifani's to-do list, when he takes over in
April, is the overhaul of Anglo's problematic platinum arm,
Anglo American Platinum, squeezed by weak demand,
rising costs and the legacy of last year's violent strikes and
protests which killed more than 50 people.
The unit, best known as Amplats, has announced a plan to
mothball two mines and sell one, potentially leading to 14,000
job losses. The plan has met with fierce resistance from South
Africa's government, politicians and unions.
The company said last week it would delay a two-month
consultation period by two weeks.
"It is not a matter of pushing back. We have a plan and we
are going to work through that plan," Carroll said.
"I spent hours with (the) minister of mines and minister of
labour a few weeks ago, and we all agreed we need to be around
the table together. We have a very comprehensive social plan."
After what was initially a very vocal opposition to Anglo's
plans and efforts to mitigate job losses, South Africa's mines
minister outlined a more flexible position on Tuesday, telling
reporters she was "happy" with current talks.
"We can't come up with an approach which says
non-negotiable. We need to be flexible as government," Susan
Shabangu said after a speech at the Cape Town conference.
"We need to recognise the pressure faced by the company, but
we also need to say 'how do we work together in making sure that
we ensure that the 14,000 workers are not going to lose their
jobs'," she added.
Carroll said the aim was to protect the business and
Amplats' remaining 45,000 jobs. Amplats on Monday unveiled its
first ever annual loss.
"The industry is not in a sustainable position and Anglo
American Platinum is not," she said.
Carroll declined to comment on talks towards the sale of
Amplats' Union mine.