JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The comprehensive technology and innovation programme being intensively conducted by diversified mining major Anglo American is coming “out of the lab and into the field”, the company told Mining Weekly Online on Thursday, when it reported continued performance improvement in the six months to June 30.
After announcing an 11% increase in underlying earnings to $4.6-billion and a 19% return on capital employed, Anglo American CE Mark Cutifani said in response to Mining Weekly Online the company was pursuing a wide range of opportunities in new bulk ore-sorting, crushing, processing, coarse particle flotation and waterless mine technologies.
“All those initiatives are in play and are being trialled on the ground in various parts of the business and we think those, plus a few other things we’re doing, will be the key to us differentiating in the continuing improvement journey over the next three to five years,” he said.
South Africa’s Mogalakwena platinum mine in Limpopo has already seen its net cost of platinum falling from $950/oz to $250/oz.
“We think with the new technologies we can head it towards zero, and that’s the sort of thing we’re talking about, getting those quality assets up to their potential. We’ve still chasing lots of opportunities,” Cutifani said.
Anglo CFO Stephen Pearce told Mining Weekly Online that the company had set itself a target from the start of 2018 to the end of 2022 to deliver another $3-billion to $4-billion benefit out of getting every piece of equipment and processing to benchmark performance and beyond.
“We’re really coming out of the lab and into the field. It’s something we’re really starting to roll out in a live environment over the next six to nine months,” said Pearce of the company’s new technology and innovation thrust.
"Getting those quality assets up to their potential. We’re still chasing lots of opportunities.
“Our focus has changed from hunting technologies to hunting value,” Anglo American technical director Tony O’Neill told Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online in an exclusive interview last year.
Anglo’s capital allocation discipline has sharpened, which has seen net debt fall to $4-billion, an increase in the dividend commensurate with earnings, and continuing a big $5-billion investment with Mitsubishi in the Quellaveco copper project in Peru.
A 6% increase in copper equivalent production volumes helped deliver $0.4-billion of cost and volume improvements in the first half, out of the $0.8-billion targeted for the full year, against a backdrop of rising input cost inflation and the temporary suspension at the Minas-Rio iron-ore operation in Brazil.
"We see significant further potential to deliver enhanced returns from the portfolio, with our business model and relentless focus on innovation and business improvement resetting our performance benchmarks. As we now move forward to develop the world-class Quellaveco copper project in Peru, in conjunction with our partner Mitsubishi, we are excited about the opportunities we see across the business."
Generated is $1.6-billion of attributable free cash flow in the six months to June 30, with profit attributable to equity shareholders of $1.3-billion.
An increased interim dividend of $0.49 a share, 40% of first-half underlying earnings, has been declared.