Mark Cutifani stepped down as the chief executive officer of Anglo American last month a happy man, having saved one of the world’s biggest mining companies from almost certain destruction.
But his swift overhaul did more than rescue debt-ridden, accident-prone Anglo. The shakeup helped to position the company for a low-carbon future. The global mining industry was turned on its head in the past decade. The old formula – gouge great holes in the ground and damn the financial and environmental consequences – worked fine. Until it didn’t.
Mainstream commodities such as coal became environmental pariahs, forcing mining companies to try to clean up their acts and embrace the “green” metals that would power the low-carbon future. Strong shareholder returns and capital discipline went from afterthoughts to necessities.
Running companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles went from fad to familiar, and global supply chains went from reliable to potential liabilities. Mr. Cutifani, 64, saw all these changes and propelled a few of them himself during his tenure at one of the world’s biggest mining companies.
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