Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani has declared that streamlined operations and communication connections are the way forward to a sustainable mining future.
Cutifani was pressed for Anglo American’s strategy by Bank of America mining research equity analyst Sophie Spartalis at IMARC Online on the role of innovation and sustainability in 2021 and beyond.
The Anglo leader said the company’s approach to change processes and reduce its carbon footprint was not only a positive financial change, but social change, fitting within Anglo American’s “social license to innovate” strategy.
“It’s so important to change processes and reduce our footprint because that is the first place society will judge if we are doing a good job,” Cutifani said.
“Our social wave program is critical in connecting to communities. A hundred years back, the federal government backed mining operations, then regional and now it’s local governments and communities so we’ve got to connect with local communities.
“Our commitment for five jobs for every job we create on the mine site to be local is part of the recognition we have to being part of a community, to contribute and be partners with our community members.”
The company developed its FutureSmart Mining initiative from reflecting on its processes from the past century and redefined these practices to improve opportunities and put higher grade ore into its mills.
“The mining industry has been doing things very similarly for about 100 years, from our point of view, we felt there was significant need for change,” Cutifani said.
“We started with how we characterise orebodies, improving operations and developed a bulk sorting technology so we were taking out the waste and putting higher grade into the mills.
“New course particle flotation, which involves recovering ore by using less energy helps us with improvements in terms of recovery. We believe this has contributed at least 10 per cent to the 45 per cent we’ve reduced in operating costs and expect it to improve another 10 to 20 per cent in the next three to five years.”
With goals to hit carbon neutrality by 2040, Anglo American is driving changes to its portfolio, exiting thermal coal and introducing renewable energies to its operations, including hydrogen as its primary energy source to replace diesel and other fossil fuels.
“With particle flotation, we can reduce energy consumption by 30 per cent and process coarser ore and recover it through flotation to extract 85 per cent of the water, which means we are lowering our water footprint by 50 per cent as well,” Cutifani explained.