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Anglo American: A Smarter and Sustainable Mining Future

Anglo American is a global mining company that is shaping the future of mining towards strategic solutions to improve sustainability and renewability. Through their work building a portfolio of high-quality and long-life resource assets, Anglo American delivers leading shareholder returns. They achieve these returns through innovative practices and technologies towards a common and sustainable process. As a company, they strive to help better the future by operating with integrity, creativity and innovation whilst supporting the future of sustainable mining.

Across the globe, Anglo American operates in 15 total regions and 56 sites, with a crucial number of sites in South Africa. In today’s world metals are involved in so much of our daily lives, from the smartphones in our pockets to the growing demand for electric cars. Therefore, Anglo American remains constantly aware of how their products can help in moving the world towards a sustainable future. Anglo American operates with FutureSmart Mining™ strategies to develop and deploy sustainable technologies to fundamentally change the way they extract and process its products. Through this smart mining process, they are creating significant safety improvements and major energy, water, and capital cost savings.

In South Africa, there are 26 sites of operation mining diamonds, platinum-grade materials (PGMs) and iron. Employing 45,000 people, the sites lead the way in facilitating a variety of mining processes from planning, building, processing, moving, and marketing for their mining projects, to producing a high range of products from bulk commodities, base metals and materials and precious metals and materials. One of the key mining operations in South Africa is diamond mining, where Venentia, an open pit mine, is home to the country’s largest producer of diamonds.

Anglo American has an 85% ownership stake in De Beers Group, which is the world’s leading diamond company, with the remaining 15% ownership in the company belonging to the Government of the Republic of Botswana. De Beers is responsible for producing one-third of the world’s rough diamonds by value. Their operations include selling rough diamonds to global diamantaires through its Diamond Trading and Auctions businesses. They also sell polished diamonds via Forevermark, for which only 1% of the world’s diamonds are eligible, with a promise to be rare and responsibly sourced. In South Africa, Anglo American’s De Beers mining projects are a joint venture with Ponahalo Holdings.

Announced in May 2023, the rough diamond sales values for De Beers between 1st May and 16th May amounted to $480 million, stemming from Global Sightholder Sales and Auctions. CEO of De Beers, Al Cook, commented that “Sales of rough diamonds in the fourth sales cycle of the year saw a small decrease from the previous cycle as the industry has enters what is traditionally a seasonally quieter period”. This comes as the previous, and third cycle of the year, was valued at $540 million. Anglo American had begun to see a return in demand, however with a slight decrease in sales, Al Cook adds in the press release on the fourth sales cycle announcement that “rough diamond demand was also influenced by ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty and a slower pace recovery in consumer demand from China than was widely anticipated”. The company hopes to again see positive consumer demands for diamonds and to steadily increase its rough diamond sales in line with the previous cycle.

A key mining venture for Anglo American in South Africa is in the mining and processing PGMs across multiple sites. Anglo American has been supporting the global potential for a hydrogen economy for quite some time, as they quickly recognised its role in enabling the shift to greener energy and cleaner transport for a more sustainable future. As the leading producer of PGMs, Anglo American is providing materials for a variety of markets with a diverse range of applications across many industries. The vehicle market sees fuel cell electric vehicles on the rise which provide zero emissions powertrain technology, which is particularly well suited to heavy duty long range and fleet vehicles. Furthermore, the alternative energy world has Anglo American as a key leader in providing PGM which is an essential metal used in the cleaning of vehicle exhaust emissions and as a catalyst for electric fuel cell technology. Finally, jewellery is also a key market for PGMs, particularly platinum, as it is widely used in jewellery due to its strength and purity.

Anglo American owns 5 mining operations in South Africa’s Bushveld complex and a smelting facility which takes metals produced at their mines and refines them. This is where the FutureSmart Mining™ technologies are crucial for Anglo American as they are continuing to invest in energy reduction and more energy efficient opportunities at their operations. By switching to low-carbon energy sources, Anglo American can develop their renewable energy projects towards carbon neutrality targets. As a company, they are looking beyond just the customers they facilitate with PGMs, but towards the future of markets to promote sustainable and diversified growth across the spectrum of activity with the help of pioneering partners to achieve a more sustainable future. One key project they are implementing in this push towards sustainability is the development of fuel cells powered by heavy haul trucks at the Mogalakwena Mine, with the continued development of a large-scale solar photovoltaic facility to increase the PGMs renewable energy supply.

Iron is also a key mining operation in South Africa. Much like PGMs, steel is used in a whole host of products, industries, and services, therefore, making it a crucial mining material across the globe. A key operation for Anglo American is in Sishen, South Africa, where there is the largest open pit mine in the world, boasting 14 kilometres in length and is at the centre of the South African iron ore business. With a 69.7% share in Kumba Iron Ore, the largest iron-ore mining company in Africa, Anglo American’s operations aim to provide its customers with high-grade iron ore to help, which they hope will aid its steel customers in achieving even tighter emission standards.

Anglo American has recently partnered with H2 Green Steel to advance the low-carbon steelmaking industry. Announced in April 2023, Anglo American has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Swedish hydrogen and steel producer to work together on the advancement of low-carbon steel-making processes. They are currently undergoing a research and trialling period taking the premium quality iron from the Anglo American Kumba mines in South Africa (as well as iron from their other mines in Minas-Rio in Brazil) and taking them to H2 Green Steel’s Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) production process at its plant in Sweden.

CEO of Anglo American’s marketing business, Peter Whitcutt, commented that the “collaboration with industry leaders who share a vision for decarbonised steel making is central to our commitment to reduce emissions in our value chain”. He continues, “Our work with H2 Green Steel will focus on exploring ways of premium, responsibly produced iron from our operations to be sued as feedstock in the Boden plant’s low carbon production process, paving the way to a cleaner, greener way to produce steel – one of the backbone materials for the roll-out of energy transition infrastructure and for ongoing global socio-economic development”. Therefore, throughout Anglo American’s mining operations for steel, they are always conscious of sustainability and are actively moving their operations towards a greener future through strategic partnerships with companies such as H2 Green Steel that can process their mined materials in a much more sustainable way.

Consequently, sustainability is a crucial concern through all operations under the Anglo American name, in which they are aiming to become a responsible producer of diamonds, copper, PGMs, premium quality iron ore, steel-making coal and nickel. Chief Executive of Anglo American, Duncan Wanblad, said in a recent sustainability update press release that “With our diversified product portfolio, we are well-placed to responsibly deliver many of the critical metals and minerals the world requires to transition to a cleaner, greener world. Our commitment to being part of the solution begins in our own business by meeting our carbon neutrality goals, while recognising that partnerships are vital to deliver our shared endeavour of a low carbon future”. Therefore, Anglo American are committed to sustainable mining plans which work towards a healthy environment, whilst helping communities to thrive, build trust in their brand and position the company as a global leader for sustainable operations. As part of this, Anglo American plans on being carbon-neutral across all its operations by 2040.

Ultimately, Anglo American is leading the way towards a more sustainable future of mining. With a focus on their values of safety, care, respect, integrity, accountability, collaboration, and innovation; Anglo American’s operations allow them to secure their desired portfolio of high-quality assets. With their advancement in technology, they can produce mining solutions that get the most out of natural deposits whilst maintaining sustainable practices throughout their sites of operation. In South Africa specifically, Anglo American is leading the way in diamond, steel and PGMs mining through its strategic partnerships with companies to develop and excel its mining portfolio. Therefore, Anglo American exemplifies how mining can be shaped towards a future of value-added operations to meet the growing demands for precious metals globally, whilst ensuring that obtaining the metals is done in the most responsible way possible. It is no surprise that Anglo American has become such a crucial company in the future of sustainable mining internationally, and we look forward to seeing how their operations get greener by the day.