Anglo American to cut 35 percent of global workforce amid massive writedown
Anglo American is facing a steep uphill battle in 2015 and beyond as the mining company reported a $3 billion loss for the first half of the year. The news will force the global miner to cut 53,000 jobs from its workforce, including 6,000 office jobs, as well as sell upwards of 15 assets.
“The first six months of 2015 saw considerable price decreases for our products amidst a volatile market environment and economic uncertainty in certain key markets,” said Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani.
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The miner reported a half-year profit before tax of $1.9 billion, 36 percent less than in the same period last year. Plunging commodity prices, including a one-time charge of $3.5 billion and $2.9 billion from a write-down on the value of Anglo’s Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil, have caused havoc among the mining firm.
Anglo American has used sales and closures to cut its portfolio from 68 mines to 55 mines within the past 18 months. It plans to further reduce its assets to 40, helping to generate at least $3 billion in proceeds from the sales.
“We will deliver on the $3 billion. Where we ultimately get it will depend on the market and the opportunities at the time,” Mr Cutifani said. “We will not sell high quality assets or assets we consider to be core to the business to cover the dividend . . . We would not look at cutting into the core of the business.”
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Anglo American is also expected to cut capital expenditure, targeting an additional reduction of $1 billion by the end of 2016.
"We have cut production and closed mines in coal in Canada and Australia in particular. We’ve shut three platinum shafts, cutting 24 percent of our own mine production and we’ve pulled back production guidance in diamonds,” said Cutifani.
"We are responding to the market and making the changes, unlike some who talk about it but don’t do that much."
In addition to job cuts and asset sales, Anglo is set to move out of its fancy headquarters in central London in an effort to save money.
“We are downsizing, we think it is appropriate . . . St James is a very expensive place to reside if you are mining company,” Mr Cutifani said.
Copper production from top ten companies to increase by 3.8%
Copper production from the world’s top companies is set to increase by up to 3.8% this year, following a fall of 0.2% in 2020, GlobalData analysis reveals. Last year’s marginal slump saw production drop to 11.76 million tonnes (Mt).
The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mining operations was immense, however, six of the ten largest copper producers succeeded in increasing output last year. In 2021, copper production from the top ten copper companies is expected to bounce back, rising by up to 3.8%, to reach 12.2Mt, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
The highest increase in copper production was by Canada’s First Quantum, which, despite all the challenges, reported 10.4% growth in 2020. The company’s Sentinel mine in Zambia and Cobre Panama were key contributors to this growth. While the latter remained under care and maintenance between April and August 2020, it delivered record production levels during the subsequent months.
Codelco, the world’s largest producer of the red metal used in electric vehicles, also bucked the trend.
Vinneth Bajaj, Associate Project Manager at GlobalData, commented: “Despite Codelco reporting over 3,400 active cases during July 2020, the company achieved 1.2% growth in its production in 2020. The company implemented a four-phase plan, as part of the COVID-19 measures, to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while also avoiding any significant impact to its copper output.”
Although the overall impact was minimal, declines in production were observed from Glencore (8.2%), Antofagasta (4.7%), BHP (3.9%) and Freeport McMoRan (1.3%). Reduced operational workforces due to COVID-19 measures, lower ore grades and production halts due to maintenance were the key disruptors to output during 2020.
The move towards electric vehicles and clean energy from renewables sources such as solar panels and wind turbines has driven the copper price to all-time highs. Copper has been among the best performers over the last month where metals ranging from aluminum to iron ore have surged to their highest prices in years. The rally is being fueled by stimulus measures, near-zero interest rates and signs that economies are recovering from the global pandemic.