Excerpt from “The History of Mining: The events, technology and people involved in the industry that forged the modern world” – by Michael Coulson

To order a copy of The History of Mining please click here: http://www.harriman-house.com/products/books/23161/business/Michael-Coulson/The-History-of-Mining/


It is impossible when considering mining in the 20th century not to place the Oppenheimer family at the centre of the development of the South African industry, one that is pre-eminent in the production of precious metals. Sir Ernest Oppenheimer played a crucial role in establishing the Anglo American group and, as Chairman of De Beers, in organising the modern diamond-trading cartel, the Central Selling Organisation, now much reformed.

Sir Ernest was born in 1880 in Freidberg, Germany, where his father Edward was a cigar merchant. The Oppenheimers were a large German Jewish family with excellent connections, particularly in the diamond business in England. When he was 16 he went to England and started work as a clerk in the London office of diamond merchant A. Dunkelsbuhler, who was his cousin, and became a naturalised Briton.

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South Africa Faces Tax Dilemma as Mining Industry Costs Soar – by Mike Cohen & Paul Burkhardt (Bloomberg.com – February 5, 2013)


South Africa’s government faces a dilemma: how to help mining companies weather surging costs and depressed commodity prices as the ruling African National Congress seeks to wring more revenue from the industry.

Upheaval has plagued platinum and gold producers since August last year, when thousands of workers staged a series of illegal strikes, winning pay increases of as much as 22 percent. Adding to mining costs, Eskom Holdings Ltd., which supplies about 95 percent of South Africa’s power, is seeking 16 percent average annual tariff increases until 2018 to fund expansion.

While Mining Minister Susan Shabangu says the government is committed to working with the industry, the ruling ANC wants the country to derive greater benefit from its minerals. At a conference in December, the party said a “resource-rent” tax, or higher royalties, were under consideration.

“I’m quite worried,” Nick Holland, the chief executive officer of Gold Fields Ltd. (GFI), Africa’s No. 2 gold producer, said in an interview yesterday at the Investing in African Mining Indaba, a gathering of more than 7,500 industry executives. “We can ill afford to accept any taxes beyond what we have. It’s just going to increase the speed of the decline of the mining industry.”

Mining output slumped 11 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in the three months through November from the prior three months, government data show. Nine loss-making platinum-mine shafts were shut in the second half of 2012, according to the Department of Mineral Resources, while Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), the largest producer, last month announced plans to idle four shafts, which may result in as many as 14,000 job losses.

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New heads for a new cycle: Mining giants switch bosses (The Economist – January 26, 2013)


Why the top posts are changing hands

MINING is a cyclical business. If China’s epic demand for commodities has done much to disguise that fact in recent years, a slew of changes at the top of the big Western mining firms is a timely reminder that it is still true. The latest casualty, Tom Albanese, was shown the door by Rio Tinto on January 17th. His departure is the latest sign that investors reckon a change of leadership is required for the next phase of the cycle.

Rio’s decision comes after Cynthia Carroll said last October that she would step down as boss of Anglo American. A couple of weeks later it was reported that BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest mining company, is seeking a successor to Marius Kloppers, suggesting that he may remain only for another year or so. The terms of a merger between Glencore and Xstrata mean that Mick Davis, Xstrata’s boss, will also soon be looking for a new job.

The clear-out is no coincidence. With the exception of Mr Davis the current crop were all appointed in 2007. If mining bosses have a shelf-life, they may all have reached the end of it. Moreover, none has been entirely successful in profiting from sky-high commodity prices.

Each of the mining giants claims to have been the first to notice the rise of China—which now consumes 40% of the world’s industrial metals—and to have reacted fast. In fact, they were all slow off the mark. The current bosses took office with a remit to catch up. But things have not gone well.

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Glencore’s Glasenberg Seen Eyeing Anglo After Xstrata – by By Matthew Campbell & Jesse Riseborough (Bloomberg.com – Feb 4, 2013)


What will Ivan do next? That’s the question likely to percolate amid seaside cocktails in Cape Town this week as mining executives gather for a four-day industry confab of speeches and discreet meetings.

Ivan, as everyone calls him, is billionaire Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive officer of Glencore International Plc. (GLEN) Next month he’s due to close a $37 billion takeover of Xstrata Plc (XTA), creating the world’s fourth-largest mining company. While he isn’t scheduled to address the annual Investing in African Mining Indaba conference, his outsized role in the industry almost guarantees speculation about his next move.

It could be a whopper. Glasenberg, 56, may consider a long- speculated takeover of Anglo American Plc (AAL), according to people familiar with his thinking. The $43 billion mining giant trades at the cheapest level relative to profit of any rival, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Also on his mind: Smaller deals such as a purchase of Eurasian Natural Resources Corp. (ENRC), which has operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo that complement Glencore’s, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FM) is also a candidate, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

“I don’t see why Glasenberg shouldn’t try this again with another target,” said Paul Gait, a mining analyst at Bernstein in London. “If Glasenberg wants to continue expanding, he has two choices: double down on the Congo via the ENRC or First Quantum route and be a third-world miner, or set up a lower political-risk entity by merging the Anglo and Xstrata operating assets.”

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Anglo American – Haunted by history – by Rex Gibson (Financial Mail – January 31, 2013)


What’s in Mark Cutifani’s in-tray

What kind of company will Mark Cutifani inherit? Every move Anglo American makes provokes an intense response from its myriad local stakeholders. This despite its moving its primary listing to London 14 years ago . Rex Gibson reflects on the role mining, and in particular Anglo American, has played in the SA economy.

It may be one of the most inept public relations performances ever by a government not renowned for its PR skills. President Jacob Zuma went to the World Economic Forum in Davos intending to reassure the world that SA welcomed investors in mining. But it appears that nobody told some of his top lieutenants.

A few days before, mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu launched a broadside of remarkable ferocity and insensitivity against Anglo American and its subsidiary, Anglo American Platinum (Amplats). The two culprits had had the nerve to announce their business proposals without talking to her.

Though clearly directed at these two, her bullying approach carried a disturbing message for the industry as a whole: “I’ll show you who’s the boss.” The result was that Zuma felt obliged to repudiate Shabangu, insisting that investors were welcome. But that didn’t do much for the confidence and sense of security of those looking to store their money for the long term in a safe place.

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UPDATE 3-Anglo American’s $4 bln hit clears decks for new CEO – by Sarah Young and Brenda Goh (Reuters.com – January 29, 2013)


LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Anglo American took a $4 billion hit to its Minas Rio project on Tuesday, clearing the decks for new boss Mark Cutifani and indicating that the delayed Brazilian operation will eventually get off the ground.

Minas Rio, which is now costing Anglo more than three times its original estimates, has been seen as Anglo’s most significant failure of recent years and is partly responsible for costing outgoing chief executive Cynthia Carroll her job.

The writedown to the valuation of the huge iron ore project and a jump in the bill for its development to $8.8 billion, alongside a planned overhaul for the company’s troubled platinum business, are as near to a clean slate as new CEO Cutifani is going to get.

Shares in Anglo American gained 2.2 percent to 19.14 pounds ($30.06), topping Britain’s blue-chip leader board in midday trading after the announcement of the impairment charge. “The Minas Rio impairments give the incoming CEO a clean slate, creating a degree of positive sentiment,” Bernstein analyst Paul Gait said.

“The greater detail and clarity on the progress of Minas Rio can only increase the confidence around the executability and delivery of the project.”

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Striking Amplats miners agree to return to work – by Ed Stoddard (Globe and Mail – January 17, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

JOHANNESBURG — Reuters – Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (Amplats) miners will end an illegal walkout from Wednesday night and want talks to prevent further action against the world’s largest producer of the precious metal, a labour leader said.

Workers at three of Amplats’ South African mines went on a wildcat walkout from Tuesday’s overnight shift, hours after the company, a unit of London-listed Anglo American, announced plans to mothball shafts and cut 14,000 jobs.

“The strike was only for last night,” Amplats labour leader Evans Ramokga told Reuters. He added workers would press management to find a way to head off job cuts, which were equal to about 3 per cent of South Africa’s overall work force in the mining sector. Amplats officials were not immediately available to comment.

Amplats earlier said an unspecified number of employees at its Khomanani, Thembelani and Tumela mines, in the heart of South Africa’s platinum belt, had refused to go underground.

Only Khomanani was among the mines slated for indefinite closure or sale by the company, so the wildcat action indicates militant labour activists had persuaded miners in other shafts to join sympathy strikes.

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All change at the top – Top global mining CEOs an endangered species – by Lawrence Williams (Mineweb.com – January 17, 2013)


Nearly all the world’s top industrial and gold mining companies have been, or are in the process of, changing their CEOs. What impact will this have on future metals production?

LONDON (MINEWEB) – Rio Tinto’s Tom Albanese is the latest victim of rapidly shrinking endangered species, the major mining CEO.

It may have taken almost 6 years but, the primary reason for the departure was the mega-miner’s foray into aluminium with the takeover of Alcan in 2007, just ahead of the big commodity price collapse of 2007/2008.

Aluminium has never fully recovered from that and at last Rio has taken the decision to write off $10 billion against the fall in value of one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers.

Albanese might have survived this on its own, but the recent $3.5 billion purchase of Mozambique coal developer, Riversdale, just. two years ago, which is now being almost entirely written down in Rio’s books was just too much for the company’s board and shareholders to live with. Albanese had to go

But Albanese is not alone. Of the world’s 10 largest mining companies, eight CEOs have been pushed, resigned, or are at least rumoured to be leaving. Look at the list: Top global miner BHP is reported in the Australian press to be seeking a successor to CEO, Marius Kloppers;

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Amplats offers new non-mining job for every mining job lost – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – January 15, 2013)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), which is setting out to create at least one new non-mining job for every mining job lost in its proposed downsizing, saw its own share price and the global platinum price rise after announcing the most far-reaching restructuring of its 58-year history, which proposes that two mines close, four shafts be mothballed, a mine be put up for sale and the 14 000 mining jobs earmarked for shedding be matched by the creation of at least an equal number of new non-mining jobs.

In addition to redeploying one-third of 14 000 people back into the rest Anglo American group and the mining industry as a whole, Amplats is offering a new non-mining job opportunity, on top of a retrenchment package, to each of the employees who cannot be placed in another mining job and are forced to enter the non-mining space.

The aim in reducing the employee complement to 45 000 is to be job neutral. “We’ll seek to ensure that we compensate for any necessary labour restructuring through the creation of an equivalent number of non-mining jobs,” Amplats CEO Chris Griffith said.

This saw its share price rise 1.28% on the JSE to R497.30 before 10 am and the platinum price rise to $1 691/oz, overtaking a gold price of $1 653/oz. South Africa’s Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya applauded Amplats for setting out to create new non-mining jobs in housing, infrastructure and small business development in Rustenburg and labour-sending areas to make amends for the mining jobs lost.

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S. Africa’s Amplats to shed mines, 14,000 jobs – by Ed Stoddard (Globe and Mail – January 15, 2013)

The Globe and Mail is Canada’s national newspaper with the second largest broadsheet circulation in the country. It has enormous influence on Canada’s political and business elite.

JOHANNESBURG — Reuters – Anglo American Platinum, the world’s top platinum producer, said it will mothball two South African mines, sell another and cut 14,000 jobs, risking a repeat of last year’s strikes when about 50 people died.

In a review announced on Tuesday that is seen as crucial to reviving the fortunes of Anglo American, which owns about 80 per cent of Amplats, the platinum producer said it aimed to cut output by around a fifth or 400,000 ounces.

But analysts have cautioned the cut could be overstated, as it is based on production capacity that Rustenburg mines have not matched for several years. Against forecast production, the cuts may amount to closer to 300,000 ounces.

Amplats has said it probably fell to a full-year loss because of the 2012 strikes, which were centred on Rustenburg where most of the job cuts will fall. The price of platinum rose over 2 per cent to 3-month highs, leaping past gold for the first since March last year, on concerns over supply.

Reaction was swift, with an Amplats labour leader threatening a strike across its South African operations if the indefinite closures, when they would be put on “care and maintenance”, go ahead.

“If they put any shaft on care and maintenance, all of the operations will go on strike. Nothing like this will be allowed,” said Evans Ramogka, labour leader in Rustenburg.

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Thunderous applause as Anglo CEO commits to SA mining solution – by Martin Creamer (MiningWeekly.com – December 4, 2012)


JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa had succeeded in extricating itself from its grave political problems in the past and the country would succeed again in finding solutions in the wake of the horrific Marikana tragedy, Cynthia Carroll said on Tuesday.

At the same time, the Anglo American CEO, who is stepping down after six years, warned that South Africa had to restore stable labour relations and foster a business environment attractive to international investors.

Carroll drew thunderous applause from a packed Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) audience when she concluded her 30-minute address by saying that “the naysayers and the doomsdayers constantly forecast disaster, but in response, I say loud and clear, South Africa has done it before and it will do it again”, by arriving at a post-Marikana solution to which her company was also totally committed.

She said that the Constitutional foundation that had been laid when South Africa transitioned from the “dark night of apartheid to the new dawn of democracy” would help the country disentangle itself from its post-Marikana crisis.

She observed that the curse of unemployment had resulted in mineworkers often having a large number of economic dependents, against the background of the migrant labour system loosening the bonds of family life and dislocating communities.

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Nickel supply continues to spring surprises – by Andy Home (Reuters – November 2, 2012)


(Reuters) – Nickel has been the underperformer of the industrial metals traded on the London Metal Exchange (LME) for much of this year. The stainless steel input fell harder during the summer sell-off and rallied less than the others on the QE3-fuelled bounce in September.

Since then the broader price pull-back has seen three-month nickel crash back to below $16,500 per tonne, a level where it is challenging the top end of the production cost curve.

The reason for this consistent underperformance is not just concern about the state of the stainless steel sector. After all, global growth fears have affected just about every industrial commodity from aluminum to iron ore to zinc.

What has marked nickel out since the start of the year and what continues to weigh so heavily on prices is the market’s supply side. Supply is expected to exceed demand by 50,000 tonnes this year, according to the International Nickel Study Group.

It will do so again next year but the scale of surplus will depend on the success of a wave of new projects currently entering production, a classic commodity example of bad timing.

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Cynthia Carroll’s Anglo American legacy – by Geoff Candy (Mineweb.com – October 29, 2012)


The numbers only really tell one side of the story.

GRONINGEN (MINEWEB) – When Cynthia Carroll, a coal geologist by training and, formerly, of Canada’s Alcan, took the reins at Anglo American in March 2007, then Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart cited her “clear leadership and communication skills, her highly relevant hands-on operational experience and her record of working with governments and other key stakeholders,” as important attributes.

This is the legacy Carroll leaves behind her by the numbers: In its 2006 financial year, Anglo American’s produced $5.5 billion in underlying earnings, a 46% increase over 2005. Operating profit jumped 54% to 9.8 billion and net debt fell 33% to 3.3 billion. The group also recorded the deaths of 44 employees and contractors. In 2011, the group reported a group operating profit of $11.1 billion and underlying earnings of $6.1 billion. It spent $5.8 billion in capex and reduced net debt to $1.4 billion down from $7.4 billion in 2010. The group also reported 17 deaths.

In between those numbers, however, lies a much broader story. Firstly, as my colleague Dorothy Kosich wrote a year after Carroll’s appointment was announced, “Carroll shattered the glass ceiling of international mining as the first female CEO to head a mega-mining company, specifically with deep South African roots. In an industry, which barely allowed women to work underground a couple of decades ago, Carroll’s appointment is a substantive indicator of change in mindset among international miners…Carroll also hails from Canada’s Alcan, where as president of the Primary Metals Group, she had to convince a sceptical public that smelting aluminium could actually evolve into a sustainable, environmentally clean activity.

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South Africa: Anglo American – a Giant Corporation Between a Big Rock and a Very Hard Place – by J Brooks Spector (The Daily Maverick – October 29, 2012)

The Daily Maverick is a unique blend of news, information, analysis and opinion delivered from our newsroom in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Stuck between worker demands for a decent living wage and insistence for broader ownership rights (or even nationalisation) and the market’s implacable demands for profits, Anglo American may have to give up its place as an iconic South African institution and be content as one more middling mining company among many.

At one of those archetypal South African dinner parties the other night, the news that Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll had just resigned got more than a mention. One guest recalled that for decades, the hard men ensconced on the top floors of Anglo American’s 44 Main Street headquarters – the one with those magnificent friezes of African animals on the walls – controlled nearly 40% of Africa’s total GDP and that, in turn, meant something like 60% of the share value of the entire the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

It was an empire almost without parallel – as if General Motors, Ford, DuPont, RCA and a half dozen other Fortune 500 stalwarts from America’s industrial Golden Age were one interlocking conglomerate. At its peak, Anglo’s organizational chart looked more like a complete depiction of the chemical relationships of the body’s Krebs metabolic cycle than a tightly structured industrial behemoth.

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Under pressure, Anglo CEO Cynthia Carroll quits – by Clara Ferreira-Marques and Sinead Cruise (Reuters – October 26, 2012)


(Reuters) – Anglo American’s (AAL.L) Chief Executive Cynthia Carroll has quit after more than five years in the job, under pressure from investors over the miner’s lagging share price and continued dependence on troubled South Africa.

A geologist by training, New Jersey-born Carroll ruffled feathers when, fresh from the aluminum industry, she became the first non-South African, the first woman and the first outsider to take the top job at Anglo in 2007.

Brushing aside suggestions she was pushed to leave, Carroll and Chairman John Parker, her long-standing supporter, said on Friday there had been “differences of opinion” with shareholders but the decision to step down was her own, as she approached a seventh year in a “very grueling and demanding role”.

Carroll’s efforts to streamline a miner with colonial roots that became a sprawling conglomerate, her campaign to cut billions in costs and efforts to shift Anglo’s centre of gravity away from South Africa have won her support among investors. A campaign to improve ties with South Africa’s government has also garnered plaudits.

But her relationship with investors became more troubled after big-ticket acquisitions like the Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil – an early bid to diversify Anglo’s portfolio – which became mired in cost overruns and delays.

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