Miner Anglo American without platinum is an option: CEO

Tue Apr 1, 2014 5:11pm EDT
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By Silvia Antonioli and Dmitry Zhdannikov

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - The chief executive of Anglo American (AAL.L: Quote), one of the world's largest diversified miners, said divesting the strike-afflicted platinum division could be an option if it does not perform as well as the others.

Anglo American's Amplats (AMSJ.J: Quote), the world's top platinum producer, and rivals Impala Platinum (IMPJ.J: Quote) and Lonmin (LMI.L: Quote) are together battling an almost 10-week-old mining strike over wages, which has slashed about 40 percent of global production of the precious metal.

The hit from the strike means Anglo could reconsider what place platinum holds in its portfolio in the future, the company's boss said in an interview on the sidelines of the FT commodities global summit.

"We like platinum longer term... but at the same time every asset has to deliver return and if the business can't deliver return than we'll look at all options," said chief executive Mark Cutifani when asked whether he would consider divesting the platinum division.

"Platinum has been one area that has struggled and certainly not because the team is not doing a good job but because we have the strike and in the end we have to make tough decisions. I hope the guys come back to work so that we can at least work on what the future might look like but at the moment it doesn't look good."

Anglo Platinum said on Tuesday it has sent force majeure notices to some of the suppliers to its South African mines, underscoring the widening economic impact of the strike.

Amplats chief executive Chris Griffith said on Friday Amplats was unlikely to declare force majeure to customers, an industry term for when a producer is unable to supply due to forces beyond its control.

Anglo is still producing about 60 percent of its platinum capacity from some mines that are not affected by the strikes.   Continued...

Miners gather near the Anglo American Platinum's Thembelani mine near the mining town of Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko