Anglo American doubles down on environmental strategy


Anglo American chairman Stuart Chambers has flagged that mining companies have raised their environmental, social and governance (ESG) expectations.

Speaking at the company’s 2021 annual general meeting (AGM), Chambers said the company will continue to act responsibly in a low carbon future, as reflected in the company’s demerger of its thermal coal operation in South Africa.

“You will also have noticed our announcement of a few weeks ago to demerge our thermal coal operations in South Africa, subject to the approval of shareholders at the general meeting that follows this AGM,” he said.

“Looking ahead, there continues to be strong demand for the many essential metals and minerals that we provide.

“As the world also transitions towards a low carbon economy, we must continue to act responsibly – bringing our employees, host communities, host governments and customers – and of course our shareholders – along with us.”

Chambers said that the company’s performance resurgence has been led by chief executive Mark Cutifani.

The company has reported that production per employee has more than doubled.

“…American, has one of the industry’s most compelling growth profiles across the truly diversified mix of metals and minerals that are required for a cleaner, greener world and to satisfy global consumer demand,” Chambers said.

According to Cutifani, the company has continued to transition its portfolio to be more sustainable, which is expected to allow Anglo American to grow further.

“Our transformation is not about diversification for diversification’s sake, the growth in quality production in market segments with high growth and margin potential is the key driver in our portfolio thinking,” he said.

Anglo American has also considered using hydrogen for its vehicles to achieve carbon neutrality.

The company has planned to trial a hydrogen fuel-cell haul truck at its Mogalakwena PGMs (platinum group elements) mine in South Africa.

“The tools and processes we have today will not take us all the way to carbon neutrality – so, new energy technologies, including hydrogen, will play a crucial role,” Cutifani said.

“In a first for our industry, we will trial a hydrogen fuel-cell haul truck at our Mogalakwena PGMs mine later this year, proving up a technology that can drastically reduce diesel usage and its associated emissions from mines all over the world. This is another game-changer.”

In January, Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest said it was urgent for mining companies to use hydrogen power to lower emissions.

“Australia is in an absolutely unique position to scale green steel,” Forrest said.

“There are two ways. In one, you replace the coal in the furnace with green hydrogen. You get steel but instead of emitting vast clouds of carbon dioxide, you produce nothing more than water vapour.

“To strengthen the steel, you simply add the carbon separately. It bonds into the metal rather than dispersing into the atmosphere.

“The other way, the radical approach, is to scrap the blast furnace altogether and just zap the ore with renewable electricity.”

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