Striking Anglo American mine workers in confrontation with police. (City Press)
London - Anglo American [JSE:AGL] has posted a drop in
fourth-quarter production of platinum and iron ore, during which it was hit by strikes
that battered South Africa's mining industry last year.
Copper - the second largest contributor to Anglo's profit
line after iron ore - provided marginally better news but rose just 2% to
172,900 tonnes, as troubles at its Collahuasi mine in Chile offset increased
output at Los Bronces, one of the company's major growth projects.
Iron ore was the largest contributor to Anglo's profit in
2011, but the mining group said on Friday that production at its key Kumba Iron
Ore unit fell 19% to 9 million tonnes, after 5 million tonnes of production
were lost at its Sishen mine due to the strike.
Equivalent refined platinum production fell by 29%,
due to almost two months of labour unrest.
Anglo has unveiled plans to tackle losses at its platinum
arm, slashing jobs and mothballing mines, and it has also appointed a new chief
executive, to replace outgoing boss Cynthia Carroll, who left under shareholder
pressure over poor returns.
Friday's numbers illustrate the size of the task ahead for
new arrival Mark Cutifani, who will be tasked with radically improving the
company's lagging share performance.
The company did not provide updated details on costs or
timing for its flagship Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil, where it has been
hit by delays and cost overruns and which is widely expected to be written down
before Anglo's annual results in February.
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