Anglo American [JSE:AGL] the company that grew to be South Africa’s biggest during apartheid, says it’s ready to invest in the country again.
After years of legislative uncertainty, relations had soured to the point where Anglo’s chief executive officer wasn’t on speaking terms with the former mining minister after he made a critical speech.
Things have improved since Cyril Ramaphosa became president in February and appointed Gwede Mantashe, another former unionist, as mines minister. Mantashe has resolved a dispute over black-ownership rules, giving mining companies more certainty on their investments.
“Whilst we don’t have all the things that we would like to see, that will in our view provide the foundation for significant investment going forward, we’re a long way down the track,” Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani told journalists late on Wednesday. “Confidence has been returned in terms of the conversation and, from our point of view, the confidence to invest in the future, certainly in terms of our assets - that’s been very important.”
In October, Anglo pledged to spend $6bn on its assets in South Africa at an investment conference hosted by Ramaphosa. Critics have suggested that not all of that investment is new and the money would have been spent anyway, but Cutifani disagreed.
As things stood 18 months ago, including the dispute around the country’s Mining Charter, “quite frankly, that money was at risk,” he said.
Founded in Johannesburg in 1917 to exploit the world’s biggest gold field, Anglo American today mines platinum, coal, diamonds and iron ore in South Africa.