The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of shareholders of Anglo American plc was held on Wednesday 26 April 2023 in the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Westminster, London
Report by Richard Solly, Co-ordinator, London Mining Network, with the assistance of Andy Higginbottom, Betty Rhaza, Carlos Mitraud, Javiera Martinez, Lourdes Huanca, Paul Robson, Rebeca Binda, Richard Harkinson, Seb Ordonez and Victoria Uranga
This year’s Anglo American AGM was the most tetchy for a long time. Company Chairman Stuart Chambers, almost always cheerful and congenial, began to fray at the edges during proceedings, and was critical of us in London Mining Network, and me personally, in a way that he has never been before.
He criticised us particularly for asking too many questions one after the other. I pointed out that we had simply done what the company asked us to do: we registered our questions as we came into the meeting, and the company then called questions in the order in which they had been registered. It seems that we got there earlier than other shareholders and so our questions were called first.
Much more significantly, he was discourteous to representatives of communities affected by the company’s operations in Brazil, Chile and Peru, in a way which has not happened before at Anglo American AGMs. This year, for the first time, he attempted to prevent community representatives from speaking their own languages, on the grounds that the necessary interpretation (which we provided) would take up too much time. In introducing the question and answer session he requested that interventions be made in English only, as the ‘chosen international language’ (presumably chosen by the company, as it was certainly not chosen by our friends from the communities affected by the company’s operations in Latin America). He repeated this requirement several times, including interrupting speakers as they began to introduce themselves.
Given that our friends had travelled from the other side of the world to address shareholders, this was deeply felt as a grave insult, a silencing of those suffering from the company’s activities, an unwarranted act of high-handed colonial arrogance. It was also counterproductive from the Chairman’s own point of view: we had translated our friends’ remarks into English before the AGM so that, after a brief introduction in their own languages, their questions could be read out in English, and then any further brief interaction with the Board could be translated with very little increase in the time taken for the meeting. As it was, the deeply felt outrage caused by the Chairman’s remarks provoked even those community representatives who are fluent in English to ask their questions in their own language and then have an interpreter repeat them in English. The Chairman’s discourtesy thus had the effect of lengthening the AGM rather than shortening it.
Our friends in the mining section of global union IndustriALL always provide simultaneous interpretation in their international meetings in several languages, so that those present can all understand one another without lengthening the time of the meetings. This is, of course, also the practice in international bodies such as the European Parliament and the United Nations. Given the particularly healthy state of Anglo American’s finances, it should be easy for them to provide a similar service at their AGMs. They know the countries where they operate. They know the common languages spoken there. They can afford interpreters and a few dozen headsets. There is nothing forcing them to treat representatives of communities affected by their operations with such high-handed disdain. It is a choice which the company has made to be disrespectful.
Like all the other major mining companies, Anglo American is positioning itself as a saviour of the world. Having spent so many decades mining climate-wrecking coal, it is now getting out of coal as quickly as possible and increasing its production of copper and iron ore, both supposedly necessary for the energy transition. Chairman Stuart Chambers was quite clear about what this implies: people in Chile and Peru who do not wish to have their territories dug up and ruined in the search for copper need to make way for mining anyway – they do not have the right to stand in the way of other people’s demand for minerals. There was no examination of whether maintenance of consumerist lifestyles at the expense of communities and ecosystems is really the best way forward for the world – no mention of degrowth or living lightly on the Earth or the indigenous ideal of buen vivir.
From mining companies’ point of view, it is an unavoidable moral imperative to provide the minerals necessary so the whole world can live in electrically illuminated high-rise cities, rushing around in electric vehicles and engaging in high-energy recreational activities to de-stress ourselves from living lives completely disconnected from the Earth which sustains us, while converting more and more of the planet into a mine waste dump. Not that they would put it quite like that.
You can download the introductory remarks of both Chairman Stuart Chambers and Cheif Executive Officer (CEO) Duncan Wanblad from the company’s website at https://www.angloamerican.com/investors/shareholder-information/agm/agm2023.
Among other things, Stuart Chambers noted that the company had delivered the Quellaveco copper project on time, on budget; two colleagues were lost in the company’s managed operations during 2022 and one from complications after an incident in 2021, and one in non-managed operation; the Anglo American Sustainable Mining Plan commits Anglo American to the UN goals and will achieve carbon neutrality across all operations, and at least halving of Scope 3 emissions, by 2040; and 2022 was the second best financial result for the company ever, after the best ever in 2021. Duncan Wanblad emphasised that safety is the company’s first priority.
Questions and Answers
Lara Blecher, of Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) asked about community engagement by the company. She said that LAPFF represents 87 funds which understand that good community engagement can enhance shareholder value. She continued:
“Many thanks to Mr. Chambers and a number of your colleagues for meeting with LAPFF during the last year. In speaking to others in the investment and mining industries, it is clear that Anglo American is perceived as a leader on environmental, social, and governance issues. However, as you know, LAPFF has also spoken to some community members affected by Anglo American operations who have concerns about some of Anglo American’s ESG practices.
“Our prior discussions about engagement with affected communities and various members of the Anglo American team have raised the question of how well the company is undertaking its stakeholder mapping exercise and how well information from affected community members is reaching the board. In LAPFF’s experience, the information provided by affected stakeholders critical of the company’s practices raises issues of strategic importance to companies and is often financially material, as suggested in the Munduruku case.
“While LAPFF recognises that the board does regularly visit project sites around the world and does meet with some affected stakeholders, including workers, it does not appear that the board meets directly with community members affected by these projects. LAPFF’s visit to Brazil last year suggests that boards would be well-served by visiting affected communities, being led by the community members themselves rather than only company representatives. We hear, and understand, other mining company chairs and board members do meet with communities.
“Therefore, would Anglo American’s board members commit to meeting directly with community members affected by the company’s operations on board visits to project sites? It would be particularly helpful if you could start this process by meeting with community members affected by Minas Rio in Brazil.”
Stuart Chambers replied by saying “Yes.” He said that host communities are critical to the company. The mining industry has had a chequered record on community engagement over the past fifty years and that it was important that the company really does understand these situations. It has been unfortunate that for the past three years COVID interrupted the process of board visits but since the end of the pandemic the whole board has visited both South Africa and Quellaveco in Peru and half the board visited the company’s steel-making coal operations in Australia. They have met local communities in each place. Farmers at Moquegua expressed concerns about mining in general. Lara’s suggestion was a good one. The board will continue to visit communities.
Introduction to community representatives, and Anglo American’s legacy at the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia
Sebastian Ordonez, of War on Want, introduced the community representatives present in the meeting and asked about Anglo American’s legacy at the Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. He said:
“My name is Sebastian Ordonez, and I am from Colombia. I work with War on Want and London Mining Network, organisations that support frontline communities defending their land, water, and life from large-scale mining companies.
“I am here as a proxy shareholder, with just enough shares to bring the people you see with me into this AGM. We’ve come because Anglo American so often fails to listen.
“From Colombia, Peru, Brazil, and Chile, we bring voices and histories that must be heard. Victoria Uranga, Carlos Mitraud, and Lourdes Huanca have travelled far and at great cost to share the truth of their communities. It is a shame that they are not able to communicate their message in their original languages and are forced to do so in English.
“We may lack the financial resources you possess to wield your co-opting, overwhelming and stifling power, but we have something far greater – the power of rivers, mountains, glaciers, our mothers and the memory, diversity, and struggle of our communities.
“Today, we stand united – environmental protectors, human rights defenders, indigenous leaders, who know that our climate-critical ecosystems and our livelihoods are the last line of defence against mining companies and ecological disaster.
“Anglo American’s operations reveal a much darker, more complex reality than what you’ve presented – a story of extraction and exploitation in the midst of a climate crisis.
“If you truly cared, why would you abandon Colombia and Cerrejón, threaten to sue the state, and leave destruction at the Cerrejón open-cast coal mine? Where do the affected communities fit into your climate-smart plans?
“Are you prepared to contribute to a reparations fund for the mine’s devastating impacts? Will you take any responsibility for the mine closure plan at Cerrejón?
“The story in Colombia reverberates through other lands, each with their own tale of pain and resilience: the desecration of glaciers in Chile at Los Bronces, stripped of their ecosystemic balance; the mental health crisis in Brazilian farming communities, grappling with the dual burdens of a water crisis and a dangerous tailings dam at Minas Rio; and the life-giving rivers in Peru, poisoned on the lands of its indigenous guardians at Quellaveco.
“What we see is a pattern, a systematic disregard for life, public health, and community well-being – a flagrant incompatibility with the living world and an attempt to greenwash this reality, anchoring to the next business opportunity – unchecked, inequitable and unjust so-called green energy expansion, at all costs.
“We will ask difficult, technical, political, moral, and future-defining questions for our communities. We demand that you listen. In addition to the responses you’ll provide today, we request written responses as well to all our questions.
“There might be only a few of us here today, but we represent the voices of thousands who will be out on the streets in Chile later today, and the experiences of thousands more who suffer the consequences of your actions every day. Those communities, our communities, will never cease resisting, existing, and thriving – of that you can be sure.”
Stuart Chambers replied that the best way to engage on specific points is to meet experts and with local and central management. Anglo American sold its 33% shareholding in Cerrejón more than a year ago, and Glencore bought this stake and BHP’s 33% stake. Glencore has thus inherited all liabilities from the past, and Glencore is the best party with which to engage on these matters including on reparations. They are no longer of relevance to Anglo American shareholders. It is no longer appropriate to talk at the Anglo American AGM about an operation that the company no longer owns and never did operate. Anglo American is not walking away from the past. It is very happy to engage in discussion but the questioner is a proxy representative of London Mining Network, and after the last AGM, LMN was offered an opportunity to engage, and the offer was not taken up. The offer has been made twice since, but has been declined. There appears to be no preparedness to do so. It is very difficult to make progress with these kind of questions and concerns. “We cannot do so with a simple exchange such as this one at an AGM,” he said. Anglo American is happy to engage on the issues, but it requires a meeting, and that can be in any language participants wish, and the company can arrange for a translator to be present so it can be a really effective exchange. “Please therefore accept this because at the next AGM in twelve months’ time we will simply direct you either to come and meet us or to talk to Glencore, who own 100% of, and operate, this mine.”
Quellaveco copper mine, Peru
Lourdes Huanca, President of the Federación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas Artesanas Indigenas Indigenas Nativas Asalariadas del Perú FENMUCARINAP, introduced herself in Spanish and continued with English translation provided by Andy Higginbottom.
“My name is Lourdes Huanca Atencio, President of the Women’s National Federation of Farmers, Artisans, Indigenous People and Workers in Peru FENMUCARINAP.”
“In Peru, in the region of Moquegua, there is a problem of water scarcity. The little that we have, you are taking away. The Peruvian Ombudsman identified this as a massive potential cause of conflict at the Quellaveco mine, which is your project. Quellaveco will exacerbatethe scarcity of water resources in the Tambo river basin, and the local communities have mobilised and made this very clear.”
“How does Anglo American plan to give us back water resources that are like water that I can drink here and are not contaminated because of your mining project?”
“I ask Anglo American after polluting our rivers, poisoning our Pachamama (Mother Earth), violating our rights to live in freedom, do you have any successful experience of recovering the land and cleaning up the rivers from your mines? Tell me in which country, at which mine, have you ever done this?”
“We have lost eighty people in the last few months because of a government takeover by a dictatorship. We defend our culture, defend our territory, and we won’t give it up to you either. What we want to know is, do you respect us, do you respect our territories, do you respect our culture? Thank you.”
Stuart Chambers said that the company does respect Lourdes’s people and would not be granted mining licences and would not be successful without that respect. Lourdes should go and talk to the local authorities and local citizens. Stuart Chambers said he was satisfied, having visited the area for the third time recently. He said he was assuming that the translation of Lourdes’s words was correct, as he did not speak Spanish. The question was about examples of the company’s successful clean-ups of rives when it has destroyed them – but the company does not destroy rivers. The allegations made about Quellaveco are baseless. The situation in Peru, as in Chile, is difficult. There are two rivers involved River Titiri is not good for drinking or agricultural use because of its volcanic origin. The Vischachas is better. Both rivers are subject to huge variations in rainfall. He said he could give clear assurance that the Quellaveco dam that is being built will significantly improve water availability and quality in the area.
Duncan Wanblad thanked Lourdes for her comments and said he appreciated the water stress that the region suffers. He was personally involved in the development of Quellaveco. He is aware of the impact of water quality. Over a period of eight to ten years the company worked closely with communities and water authorities to devise a scheme which was in line with community suggestions and took account of their concerns. The scheme implemented is not the one originally planned. It changed as a result of community engagement. There are three rivers involved. The Asana is the other river involved. The company changed the source of water for the mine to the Titiri River because it cannot be used for human consumption, and did not interfere with the Asana River. The community works with Anglo American to measure this primary water source for Moquegua. The Vischachas River now also has a reservoir to provide a more constant and useful source of water to communities downstream. The company worked very closely with the water authorities, the local authorities and local communities so that it could design an operation aligned with the goals of the community. The company works with the company to test it to ensure it is working as planned.
Stuart Chambers asked Lourdes to engage with the Anglo American team locally and discuss these matters with them, not at the AGM.
Lourdes said that Stuart Chambers had not given an example of a country where the company had restored land after mining. Mining leaves land sterile and people cannot farm it any longer.
Stuart Chambers said that the company would not leave the land at Quellaveco sterile. Duncan Wanblad said that Anglo American had sold an operation with a short life in Lisheen in Ireland. It was in a water sensitive area surrounded by agriculture. The company developed a closure plan taking into account the need for restoration of the area. The mine had left minimal impact. At Quellaveco, a lot of the mine closure plan has already been agreed with the local community, even though the mine will not be closed for 30 to 50 years.
Stuart Chambers repeated again that any further questions should be put in English by people’s interpreters, rather than in another language with translation. Lourdes called out, in Spanish, that this was discrimination.
Ana Reyes said she represented the Peru Support Group, a small group in England which works with others around the world to defend human rights, social inclusion and sustainable development. It works to advocate positive change and ensure that corporations are held to account. On mining issues, it works to highlight positive and negative impacts of the mining industry on local communities, including human rights and environmental impacts. She went on:
“In the Moquegua region there is a problem of water scarcity, which has been compounded by the negative effects of previous mining operations. Peru’s Ombudsman’s Office previously identified this situation as a potential conflict as Quellaveco, Anglo American’s new project, could exacerbate the scarcity of water resources in the Tambo river basin.
“Anglo American announced in the second half of 2022 the start of commercial operations of the Quellaveco mining project. Could you provide more details about the evolution of the commercial production of copper and other minerals so far? Could you provide information on the destination of exports of copper concentrates and other extracted minerals? Are there plans for a formal inauguration of commercial operations with the participation of Peruvian and/or British authorities? Where do you deposit the toxic mineral waste that is produced in the construction phase of the project and how is it treated?
“What is Anglo American’s plan to distribute the water from the Vizcachas dam to the population of the area? Is there a treatment for that water?”
Duncan Wanblad replied that last year Quellaveco produced 100,000 tonnes of copper. This year, the company plans to produce 330-350,000 tonnes. It is sold into global markets, to customers whose bona fides and the sustainability of their operations Anglo American has checked. No significant amounts of toxic waste were produced during construction of the mine. Earth was removed and placed in stockpiles in and around the mine. No chemicals were used. Plastic and other waste materials were removed to dump areas and will later be dealt with appropriately. A small event was held in Moquegua in September 2022 to inaugurate the project.
Ana asked about the company’s plan for distribution of water from the Viscachas dam.
Duncan Wanblad replied that water abstraction from the Viscachas River is as it always was from the river by local farmers and other local users. The dam provides a more constant source of water throughout the year. No treatment of the water is needed. The mine uses only a very small quantity of the water. The majority of the water used in the mine comes from the Titiri, which is not fit for human consumption, not because of anything to do with mining but because it is sourced in volcanic rocks.
Stuart Chambers emphasised that this arrangement enables farmers to draw the water that they need all the time rather than just part of the time, by bolstering it with the dam.
Betty Rhaza introduced herself as a Peruvianfrom Plataforma 12 de octubre, 12 October Platform, an organisation that defends human rights, the environment and original people’s rights. She said:
“I ask Anglo American: When are you going to stop destroying the environment in my country and let us live free on our territories? On 7 December 2022, President Pedro Castillo, a rural teacher and peasant farmer, was illegally detained and arrested, just after he announced to review mining contracts, including Anglo American, because extractive mining companies are causing great environmental, social, economic, psychological and cultural damage in Peru.
“Extractive mining companies have not only impacted the environment by contaminating water, life and land but also cause social conflict among communities, insecurity and distress in families, including children. They also put ancestral practices and Andean cosmovision at risk, impacting the harmonious relationship between the Runas (a Quechua word for human beings) and our environment, with supreme respect for our Pachamama, Mother Earth.
“After all that has been said, when are you going to leave my country to put an end to the pain, anguish, insecurity and bloodshed of my brothers and sisters who are fighting to recover their lands, the inheritance of our ancestors? Because when people started to fight to recover their lands, the police and army repressed them and killed our people, so I ask you again, when are you going to leave my country? Because we don’t want you there. Thank you.”
Stuart Chambers said that Betty’s concern for her country and the environment was fine and right and he respected her views. But he did not think she spoke for the majority of people in the area of Moquegua or in the country. There are many benefits for the country created by mining, including jobs and investment, and if it can be done in a way which does not destroy or even harm the environment, arguably that is good. Ten years ago, well before approval was given for the mine, there had been an extensive dialogue with communities in the area of Quellaveco and neighbouring communities and over a period of eighteen months a very significant amount of information had been exchanged. It was important for the company to avoid the dangers and understand what it needed to do to open and operate the mine successfully and eventually close it and leave it as it was before. Anglo American believes it can do so. The community now has better water quality and supply than before. The company does not intend to leave Peru. It very much respects and likes Peru. Mining activity is to the benefit of a great many Peruvians and can be done in a way that does not harm the environment. There is huge concern around climate change and one of the challenges presented to South America, particularly Peru and Chile, is that they are sitting on very significant deposits of copper, and it is not possible for the world and humanity to transition to a low carbon economy before the temperature rises to the point that the whole planet is in danger without more copper. Copper is fundamental to the protection of the planet. Peru is playing a fantastic role in this. Rather than say “go away”, it would be better to fight for very good community engagement and very good mining activity and developing mines without destroying or adversely affecting the environment. The world needs copper.
Minas Rio iron ore mine, Brazil
Carlos Mitraud, from the community of Conceicao do Mato Dentro in Minas Gerais State, Brazil introduced himself in Portuguese. He was representing thirteen communities affected by Anglo American’s Minas Rio iron ore mine. His interpreter, Paul Robson, was about to read out Carlos’s questions in English when Stuart Chambers again insisted that it was not acceptable for remarks to be made in any language other than English, because of the time necessary to translate them. Remarks made in any other language should be made very briefly. Paul noted that he had been about to begin reading out Carlos’s questions in English. He noted that Carlos had been at the AGM last year and had asked a number of questions, and had similar questions this year because they were still relevant. Paul then read out the questions in English.
Paul said that the questions were mainly about water.
“Why does Anglo American not guarantee to create a definitive plan for permanent supply of water to all of the thirteen communities which are affected by the Minas Rio project, which are located around Conceicao do Mato Dentro and around the mine of Minas Rio? At present people have very many problems in these thirteen affected communities, both in terms of lack of water, low pressure water or supply of water by water lorries, which is a very ineffective and very difficult way of supplying water, and you don’t know the source of the water, and it is very irregular and cannot be guaranteed. And in other situations the water that they use either for drinking or for other uses is polluted and contaminated. So the first question is, why is there not a guarantee of a good plan for a direct supply of water to these thirteen communities to replace the rather inadequate situation which they face at present? The second question concerns the analysis of water in the area and the analysis of other environmental factors. Is it possible that Anglo American can set up a system of independent monitoring of all the environmental issues in the area, particularly water supply in all its aspects, an independent analysis, independent data gathering, but which is provided in a form that everyone can understand and we can overcome the difficulty that we have when there are different views about the impact of the Minas Rio project on the water supply in the thirteen communities?”
Stuart Chambers replied that the water plan and water monitoring at Minas Rio are important but that Brazil is not a water stressed country like Chile and Peru. Nonetheless, it is important, and the company’s approach has to be very clear and planned. This is a good example of where good dialogue between the company and local people at the local level with local experts is important. If we want to set up more independent monitoring than already exists it is not possible to deal with the details at the AGM. He asked that Carlos please engage with local management, and if that is not successful, then Carlos should contact him or come to the AGM again. But he should not do so until and unless he has taken up the offer of dialogue at local level, because this would be the right way to achieve progress.
Carlos said that local management knows very well that there are serious problems with water supply and has done nothing about it, so it seems that the issue cannot be resolved locally without bringing it to the attention of top management.
Stuart asked Carlos to confirm to him “offline” that he would take up the offer of local dialogue. Stuart Chambers undertook to ensure the presence of a representatives of central management outside of Brazil.
Rebeca Binda, from the State of Minas Gerais in Brazil, asked about resettlement, negotiation, and land regulation around the Minas Rio mine.
“Why did Anglo American not finalize the processes related to land regularisation for the resettled families around the Minas Rio project? The thirteen communities affected by Anglo American’s enterprise are still waiting for:
• full payment of the amounts owed after resettlement
• the delivery of property titles and
• the assurance of resettlement with equal and fair criteria for all the different families and communities.”
Rebeca said that there were specific concerns in each of the thirteen communities involved. Some communities were moved for their safety but they were resettled to different properties and they were not given the full documentation saying that they owned the properties and they were not paid the correct amount for the sale of the properties they owned. This was the case, for instance, for the Gondó community.
Stuart Chambers asked Rebeca to allow the company to “take this question offline” and send her a detailed response later. He said the question referred to a voluntary resettlement programme in 2017 connected with tailings dam construction. 80% of the claims were resolved at the time but it is possible that some remain unresolved and it is important that communities be respectfully handled, and quickly, and not be left hanging. He aske Rebeca to speak to the company after the meeting about how to communicate.
Paul Robson, of London Mining Network, asked about the audit of Minas Rio carried our by IRMA, the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance.
“In the Anglo American Sustainability Report, on page 87, second column near the top, it says: ‘Achieving our interim Sustainable Mining Plan target: To date, we have now undergone third-party assurance audits at 11 of our operations. In 2022, we piloted joint IRMA and RJC certification audits of our Mototolo mine. We also completed the IRMA audits of the three other South African sites needed to meet our interim Sustainable Mining Plan target – Kolomela, Sishen and Amandelbult – as well as our Barro Alto and Minas-Rio sites. This adds to the previous certification at Unki.’
“According to IRMA website, Unki in Zimbabwe is the only Anglo American mine in the category ‘Mines with completed audits’. IRMA have confirmed to us directly that the only Anglo American mine site that is fully audited is the Unki Mine in Zimbabwe.
“According to IRMA, the Amandelbult, Sishen, Kolomela, Minas Rio and Barro Alto mines are not in the same category as Unki, they are in the same category as Mototolo, that is, they are mines with ongoing audits. We also understand from IRMA that at these five mines what has been completed is Stage 1 (desk review of documents) and Stage 2 (on site auditor review). And when Anglo American received the results of these reviews, the company opted to make use of the “optional corrective action period”. This is where the company can take a year or so to make improvements in performance. Auditors will then go back to the site to confirm any improvements made, and only then will an audit report be released.
“It is difficult to understand quite what that paragraph in the second column on page 87 refers to because what has been completed is the paper desk review and the first on site audit. The certification process has not been completed. Can you confirm that, in fact, mines such as Minas Rio are in the ‘corrective action period’ and have not yet concluded the full audit process?
“Do you agree, therefore, that the paragraph near the top of column 2 of page 87 not reflective of what IRMA is saying and can you tell us what actually are the corrective actions being taken at Minas Rio and do you think that this will be achieved in the near future?”
Stuart Chambers agreed that the paragraph in the report to which Paul had referred was not clear. When it talks about audit completion it means completion of the onsite audit, but the process is not closed until the report is agreed and approved and issued, and that will include any corrective actions. The company is in between the completion of the on site audit and the closure in IRMA’s eyes. If that is not clear in the Sustainability Report the company needs to make sure this is clear in future.
Duncan Wanblad added that Paul was right. Only one of Anglo American’s mines had been certified by IRMA, and that was Unki. Others, including Minas Rio, had been audited, but there are gaps, and the company is in the process of closing those gaps, after which the mine could be certified.
Paul asked if the company would clarify what was said in the Sustainability Report, because it gives the impression that these mines have been certified. It implies that they are in the same category as Unki, which they are not. Stuart Chambers said they would look into it, consider all the facts, and if they feel the need to issue a clarification they will do so.
The question about corrective actions being taken at Minas Rio remained unanswered.
Richard Harkinson, of London Mining Network, said that the Sustainability Report gave the impression that Anglo American were world leaders in sustainability and that an audit of Minas Rio had been completed. “We know that the visit of the third party auditors to Minas Rio was in December 2021. We know who the auditors are,” he said. “What we do not know is the nature of the changes needed or how you are still engaged with the independent auditors.”
“We do not know whether stage 1 of the audit includes the slurry line, which is contentious, leading to Rio de Janeiro. We understand from your Annual Report says that you have installed a fibre-optic system along that line. That may actually mean only that you laid cable along the pipeline length as a means of improving your internet from the mine to the HQ at the Acu port or in Rio de Janeiro. It may be that you have got some form of monitoring of the discrete sealed system of the slurry transport. Your statement last year says that production decreased because of difficulties with the ore, but you increased water usage at this mine by 29%. You are taking more water. You have had problems communicating with the affected communities that live there.
“I am astounded at the intellectual conceit of beginning your response by saying that Brazil is not a drought area when a question was asked about showing where you have dealt with impacts on a river system and you chose a historic site at an underground zinc mine that you sold to Vedanta. You have got a commitment to monitor until 2050. I assume, given the sort of answers you gave about Colombia, that you transmitted obligations for post-closure monitoring of Lisheen. Do you maintain liability for post-closure monitoring? When we are talking here about large-scale, rapacious opencast mines in Latin America, you make a comparison with a historic, underground mine that was regulated by the EU. Tell us more, please, about this commitment.”
Stuart Chambers asked Richard to restate his questions. Richard asked for clarification of the status of the audit at Minas Rio. Stuart Chambers said he had dealt with this issue. Richard said that the question was in that case left hanging regarding the commitment to inform Latin American communities (in this case, about mine rehabilitation). The Chairman had showed no respect for their lived experience and the languages which they use. Is it appropriate to give only one example of effective mine rehabilitation? Could they give any more examples of good closure?
Stuart Chambers said that they could. But he accused Richard of failing to show respect to other shareholders who were attending the meeting and had questions they wanted to discuss. He again spoke about the need for remarks to be made in English, and said that this was not because the board did not understand any other language – he himself could speak three – but because of the need for all shareholders to be able to understand what was being said, without the need to spend time in translation. He went on, “We repeatedly implore and request yourselves and Richard Solly and London Mining Network to speak to us. The answers to these questions could be found very successfully locally and they never take up this offer. I don’t understand why. Your question is about does it or not include the slurry line, is it just you putting in a fibre-optic cable for your own calls. We are a very, very transparent company. Just ask your people please to engage locally, and we will answer all these questions, and then people will be more clear. Trying to do that here is not successful. Please, please, please, out of respect for this meeting and generally mutual respect, talk to our management locally, and let’s get a good understanding between us about the problems. It doesn’t work like this.”
Richard retorted that the Chairman could not assume that the people who come to the AGM had not spoken to local management and that they were only trying to give the company problems in getting through their AGMs.
Stuart Chambers replied, “I have spoken to ten or twelve of our local managers in the last few weeks and I have written evidence that we implore and reach out and Mr Solly can confirm that we do it they confirm that the offer was never taken up, so I can say that because I know.” Providing answers to the questions that Richard and others were asking could only be done effectively through engagement with local management. “We are not equipped here to deal with very detailed specifics for every question. We can’t do that. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to do it and won’t do it, we just can’t do it here.”
Richard concluded by saying that it would be good for the company’s reputation to publish prior to certification the vast majority of the independent third party audits as soon as possible and not just deal with it in summary in the annual report.
Stuart Chambers said he fully understood this suggestion and took it on board, and thanked Richard for making it. Richard thanked him.
Los Bronces copper mine, Chile
Javiera Martinez, Latin America Coordinator at London Mining Network, said that LMN works with communities affected by Anglo American’s projects in Chile, Colombia, Peru and Brazil. She said:
“My question is focused on the El Soldado project and the El Torito tailings dam in the Valparaíso region of Chile.
“Chile is a country where many earthquakes occur. This year there was an earthquake of 5.5 points. 5.5 is a low degree of earthquake, a normal earthquake in Chile is more than 6.7 points. This small earthquake generated a movement in the tailings dam and it demonstrated the malfunction of the tailings dam. The community found videos on social networks where the spillage of uncontrolled tailings substance was clearly witnessed. The Anglo American company did not report this event, but people from the communities demanded an answer from the company, and after that, Anglo America declared the failure of the dam, but the statement delivered by the Anglo American company was unclear and it didn’t explain why it occurred. This situation is something that worries the community, because they fear for their safety. In case of risk of rupture of the tailings dam, the community does not know how the company will react. What would happen if the dam fails? Will the Anglo American company have a late response as they performed? The community had to put pressure on the company to make the company say something about this failure. 10 years ago, the main wall of the dam collapsed. Last year, there was a tailings spill downstream of the mine and in March of this year, the dam wall cracked, causing the tailings to spill. All these failures have been reported in Chile to the supervisory institution due to the risk that these failures can cause to people’s lives.
“The question from the community is: Can Anglo American clarify the causes of the repeated failures of the El Torito tailings dam? Can Anglo American state that the tailings dam will not cause an accident in Chile if it fails?”
Stuart Chambers replied that in general terms, the company has to employ best practice standards across all its tailings facilities across the world. These are very serious and sensitive issues. It has to be on top of its game. Its group technical standards exceed regulatory requirements in all countries in which it operates. There are no material issues or concerns with the El Soldado facility. There was no damage to the dam from the earthquake. The company is engaging with the local communities about emergency response procedures, which is very important, because even if the company makes all the assurances in the world to local people they may quite rightly still be concerned because they are not technical experts and they wish to be reassured. One way of doing that is to have drills and participation in evacuation drills to give people a clear idea that if there was a problem they would be able to escape safely. Participation in these drills is extremely challenging. It is not easy in some cases to get communities even to agree to a drill because they feel that if they do them it will create more anxiety in the local community. Anglo American needs people such as Javiera to help by encouraging community participation in these drills, he suggested.
Duncan Wanblad said that the company’s tailings dam standards are high and represent best practice and there was no damage to these tailings dams during the earthquake and there are no technical issues with this tailings dam at all.
Javiera said that there was evidence in videos about this but that she respected the answers given. She said that she felt uncomfortable that community representatives could not speak in their own languages. It was not their fault if the board and shareholders did not speak their languages. “You speak about your relationship with the communities. We are here with Victoria from Chile, Lourdes from Peru, Carlos from Brazil, and they travelled from Latin America to present their demands, their concern and their testimony, and you can’t hear anything from them… With all respect, I think this situation is disrespectful. This is discrimination and also I think it is a colonial practice. We are putting all our respect to stay here in front of you and it is important to hear from them, and it is only five minutes to translate, so I ask if Victoria can speak in Spanish and then we can translate in English so all can understand. Thank you.”
Stuart Chambers replied that it was unfair to say that the company had not shown respect. London Mining Network had issued a number of proxies and the last hour and fifteen minutes had been almost entirely taken up with their concerns. If translation were to be allowed, it would double the time taken. The company had not yet answered a single question from other shareholders. He asked Javiera also to respect the meeting. The English language selection had been made clear before. It was not because he himself could not speak their languages. The company has huge numbers of people locally who speak exactly the language required. If a Chinese representative were to come they may complain that they could not use Chinese, but if they did, many people would not understand. Detailed questions and the search for solutions to problems have to be dealt with by people at local level, where understanding can be fully aligned and one common language used. The AGM is about general and group issues. Respect had been shown to London Mining Network: one hour and fifteen minutes had been spent dealing with these questions while other shareholders were waiting to ask their questions. Who was not respecting the meeting?
Victoria Uranga, from the Movimiento No + Anglo Chile (No More Anglo movement in Chile) and the Coordinación Territorial en Defensa de los Glaciares (Territorial Coordination in Defence of Glaciers), introduced herself in English and said that it was good to see the faces of the board members. She said that people often wondered who they were when they were considering the damage that Anglo American did to their communities. She said that she was part of the communities affected by Anglo American’s activities and who tried to speak to the company, but dialogue is built with trust, with honest talk, and “we don’t have that. That’s why we’re here. That’s why we used the kind invitation of London Mining Network to talk here today. So, please forgive me, but I am going to speak in Spanish, briefly and very short.”
Stuart Chambers interrupted Victoria to say that the intention of the meeting was not for statements and grandstanding. Her said Victoria could speak in Spanish but to ask a question, not five or ten minutes of a statement, just a question. Victoria assured him that her remarks would be very, very short. She then asked her question in Spanish and Rebeca Binda translated into English afterwards.
“Chile, more than a mining country, should be considered a glacier country. More than 80% of Latin America’s glaciers are in our territory. We have been through a water shortage for thirteen years, and glaciers contribute up to 60% of the river flows in the central valleys. Glaciers are also the most perfect regulators of temperature and, therefore, key to the current climate emergency. There is no doubt, life depends on glaciers.
“However, Anglo American has destroyed glaciers in the past, is destroying them in the present and wants to continue destroying them with its Los Bronces Integrated Expansion Project.
“Why does Anglo American insist on destroying glacial areas (with explosives or with its pollution that generates accelerated melting) when it is aware that studies show that it is precisely this company who has generated the greatest losses of glacial mass in the area in which it operates? Why does Anglo American ignore the scientific evidence and put the lives of more than 50% of the entire population of Chile at risk by destroying its glaciers?”
Stuart Chambers replied that the Los Bronces mine and the next step at Los Bronces (the expansion) will have no effect on any glaciers. The project has been going on for many years. There had been extensive studies for years including of the Yerba Loca protected area. A week ago, the Council of Ministers had unanimously approved the project because they were convinced it can be carried out with no effect on the glaciers. Air quality in the Santiago Region will be improved. The expanded project will use the existing tailings facilities and there will be no new tailings facilities and there will be no impact on increasing water use. He said that the question was more of a statement that Anglo American was about to destroy glaciers.
Victoria repeated that dialogue is built on trust and said that scientific studies show that Anglo American is indeed destroying glaciers. She said she was sad to hear from Stuart Chambers that he denied this information.
Stuart Chambers asked Victoria to send him these scientific reports by post or email, because he would be the first to know of them.
Victoria replied that technical decision had been to refuse the project expansion and that it was a political decision to allow the project to go ahead, and now the matter would go to trial.
Stuart Chambers said that if a politician flies in the face of the people, he or she will not last very long. He repeated his request that Victoria send him the scientific and technical reports to which she had referred, and he would look at them.
Victoria said that she was sure that the company’s people on the ground were aware of the reports and Stuart Chambers could ask them. Stuart Chambers said that he did not know which reports Victoria was referring to, so Victoria undertook to send him the reports.
The Chairman then called for questions from shareholders participating online, which were read out with crystal clarity by the company employee who had performed the task over the past few years.
Kumba Iron Ore Dingleton resettlement in South Africa
Dr Gwendolyn Wellmansaid that as part of the resettlement, Kumba Iron Ore signed an agreement with the South African Northern Cape government and the local government to enable the government to provide housing for the people being resettled. This means that the South African taxpayer pays a significant amount related to the Dingleton resettlement. Kumba Iron Ore has refused to make these agreements public even though it is an Anglo American subsidiary and Anglo American is a founding member of the ICMM, which calls for openness. Why would an Anglo American subsidiary refuse to make contracts public that are signed with the South African government, contracts which relate directly to expenditure of taxes in a country that is riddled with corruption?
Stuart Chambers replied that the resettlement of the community of Dingleton had been complicated. Renters of the new properties were supposed to be responsible to the owners but the properties were not being looked after, so Anglo American decided to go one step further and made voluntary donations to help renters be housed. Housing was constructed by Kumba Iron Ore and given to the local municipality. About 90 million rand had been made available. Why was this agreement not publicised? ICMM does not require this. The ICMM principles about disclosure only apply to contracts with governments for mining concessions, not to this kind of arrangement. This arrangement made with the authorities in South Africa was made subject to confidentiality provisions, so the company cannot disclose it – it is not at liberty to publish the contract.
Pay ratio and gender pay gap
Mr Mohammed asked:
- Why does Anglo American plc only disclose the pay ratio and the gender pay gap just for UK companies and not by major geographic sectors?
- On the assumption that you gave a reason that you are not obliged to do so by the regulatory requirements, would it not be global best practice for Anglo American plc to disclose the pay ratio and the gender pay gap by major geographic segment over the last five years?
- On the assumption that the board does review the pay ratio and gender pay gap trends by major geographic segments, what has been the trend over the last five years for the ratio and the gender pay gap?
- On the assumption that the pay ratio and gender pay gap are unacceptable, what is the board doing to rectify this, and by when?
Stuart Chambers said that the CEO is based in the UK and subject to the UK Remuneration Committee considerations and is typical of the publicly listed UK market and therefore comparable to UK colleagues. It does not make much sense to compare the CEO’s pay to other countries as they are subject to completely different norms, and for this reason very few people do that, and none of Anglo American’s peers. It would only lead to more questions. The gender pay gap, Anglo American does disclose it including for outside the UK and it is in the Annual Report, which also makes clear what the company is doing about it. The company is driving gender and ethnic equality on all fronts and is very concerned about equity and equitability in pay and conditions. Improvement is needed but the company will keep at it. He said he did not know the answer to Mr Mohammed’s third question because it involved a large set of data, but he would look at it.
Questionable diamond sales
Another shareholder, whose name I heard as Adam Nagel, asked about a 2012 transaction involving De Beers diamons – De Beers being 85% owned by Anglo American.
“A secret sale of rough diamonds invoiced by De Beers at $15 million took place in November 2012 between De Beers and its former Chairman in which a sight-holder was used as the conduit and instructed to conceal the transaction.
“Why was it necessary to use a secret conduit? Why was the transaction not conducted directly? Why did De Beers hide the transaction from the broker, ensuring the sight-holder evaded payment of commission? Why did De Beers authorise an indirect payment of $300,000 to the sight holder to facilitate the transaction? Is it De Beers’ position that the sale was properly accounted for in all public reports and statements and was undertaken in accordance with, and not seeking to bypass, De Beers’ policies, its code of conduct and all legal and regulatory obligations? Who authorised this transaction and were the boards of De Beers and Anglo aware of it and if so, did they approve it? How can the board assure shareholders that the sale was at full market price and that the diamonds were not sold by De Beers at any under value? What was the reason for the transaction? It was suggested in court that it was a settlement with the former Chair. Does the board confirm this?
“The stated corporate end-purchaser of the diamonds, as directed by De Beers and stated in the relevant invoice, has been discovered not to have existed. Which entity was in fact the legal recipient of these diamonds? How can the board assure shareholders that using a sight-holder to disguise such a transaction does not compromise De Beers’ integrity or neutrality in its dealings with the sight-holder and can it pose any kind of conflict of interest for the implementation of its best practice principles? Does the board stand by De Beers’ denial of any wrong-doing in connection with this transaction? Will the board confirm its zero tolerance approach to any cover-up of wrong-doing in relation to this or other matters?
“The sight-holder used to effect the sale has openly boasted under oath that this is just one of many secrets that he holds and that he was, or is, a ‘garbage can’ for matters that De Beers wished to conceal. Will De Beers finally commit to transparency in relation to this transaction and any other secret dealings?
“These questions were put to the board in 2021. None of the questions has yet been answered… In addition, the company outlined last year that when matters of concern are raised it has a policy in place to refer matters to the ethical business conduct team and the in-house investigation team, which in turn provide a report to the board through the audit committee. Can the company confirm that this matter has been investigated by the investigations team and that a report has been produced for the benefit of the board? If no such investigation report has been shared with the board, on what basis is the company able to repeat its denial of wrong-doing in relation to this matter? If answers are not provided to the above, please explain on what grounds the board refuses to address these questions relevant to every shareholder.”
Stuart Chambers explained that this matter went back ten or eleven years. The company stands by the statement that neither De Beers nor Anglo American is guilty of any wrong-doing. The sight-holder in this case chooses to use a broker. The broker in this case is on record as being concerned about two transactions where it appears he did not receive a commission, and that is nothing to do with De Beers or Anglo American but to do with those third parties. There was a court case in the London courts between the two parties and the broker was successful in gaining his commission. Another court case was taken in Belgian courts and Mr Nagel chose to bring Anglo American and De Beers into this case. The company can therefore not talk about it in detail until the case has run its course.
Evidence from company executives
The next question came, if I heard correctly, from Laurence Beer.
“What provisions do Anglo American and De Beers have in place to prevent executives volunteering evidence about the company’s activities without the permission of the company? Once leaving the company’s employment, what restrictions remain in place to prevent testimony or disclosure of evidence by ex-executives and directors without the prior approval of the company? If no such restrictions are in place, and current or former executives provide evidence which significantly misrepresents the company’s activities, deliberately or otherwise, can the company confirm that steps would be taken to prevent and or correct any false information or testimony from being relied upon?”
Stuart Chambers said his response was the same, as the question concerned the same case in Brussels, and the company was not able to comment.
Not answering questions
The next question came, if I heard correctly, from Mr Eulow.
“The Notice of the Meeting of the AGM says that the company will answer all questions raised by shareholders unless certain exceptions apply. For the sake of accountability and transparency, will Anglo American undertake to specify when it relies on any of these exceptions not to answer a question? Were any wrong or incomplete answer to be provided, will the company commit to later providing a corrected and complete answer on the company website? One of the exceptions to providing an answer is when it is undesirable in the interests of the company. Please confirm that the company would never use this exception to avoid the exposure of wrong-doing. Will the company commit to making available on its website a record of all AGMs? The video of the 2021 AGM is available on the company website but no such record is available for the 2022 AGM. Can this be corrected, certainly for the future?”
Stuart Chambers replied that the company does not, and has no plans to, publish records of the AGM question and answer sessions in its website. It is extremely unusual for that to be done. There are reasons of history and precedent but we do not have that intention. I am happy to rediscuss that internally but it is currently not the company’s intention to do so. The only time that the company would not respond to a question raised at the AGM would be either because it cannot, as in the case of Mr Nagel’s questions or because it does not know the answers and has to go and find the answers because they are very detailed or because of the good order of the meeting or if it runs out of time. If the company gives an answer to a question and it proves later to be incorrect then it would make sure that the questioner subsequently received a corrected answer, on the website, at the next AGM or in some other way.
[In fact, when we first started attending Anglo American plc AGMs twenty years ago, the company used to publish a transcript of the entire AGM on its website. It stopped doing so after a few years. We assumed that this was because the company did not wish to publicise statements and questions critical of its activities. As far as we know, the only published record of the company’s AGM is ours.]
A follow up question from the same shareholder asked about the correction of misinformation given by a company official. Stuart Chambers confirmed that the company would correct such misinformation as integrity is very important to it. It has a live and well-used system of whistle-blowing. People can raise concerns internally if they see the company’s Code of Conduct being violated.
This being the last online question, further questions were invited from inside the room.
Responding to allegations against London Mining Network
I askeda question on behalf of the Bench Marks Foundation in South Africa and the communities with which it works. The question concerned the company’s impacts on the Magobading, Sterkwater and Skimming communities and the Sekhukhune Combines Mining Affected Communities (SCMAC) organisation in Limpopo, South Africa.
Before asking the question, I responded to the allegations which Stuart Chambers had made about the behaviour of London Mining Network, people associated with London Mining Network, and communities with whom we work.
Stuart Chambers had said that we had shown disrespect to other shareholders by asking our questions one after the other, when other shareholders were also waiting to ask their questions. I pointed out that we had simply done what the company had asked us to do: we were asked to register our questions at the appropriate desk before the AGM began, and that is what we had done. The company then called questions in the order in which they had been registered. It was for the company to arrange the order in which shareholder questions were asked, and if the company wished to break up our questions into blocks and intersperse them with other shareholders’ questions, they were at liberty to do so. Stuart Chambers said that this was a helpful suggestion which they might take up in future.
Stuart Chambers had also sharply criticised us for refusing to take up their repeatedly made offer of talks, both with us and with the communities with whom we work. I explained, as I have done before, that London Mining Network does not think it would be right to speak to the company without asking the communities with whom we work and ensuring that they are invited to such talks. Every time the company offers talks, we pass the message on to the communities with whom we work, and they discuss the matter together. So far, they have declined the offer of talks, because the level of trust is so low. Given that this is the case, we have not entered into talks with the company either. I explained our view that it is not for us in London to tell communities what they should think or do – our role is to ensure that their voice is heard in London.
I added that part of the reason that communities decided not to talk to the company was that some of those who have had talks with the company feel that nothing significant has been achieved by them, and that this was germane to the question I was about to ask.
Community removals in Limpopo Province, South Africa
I said, “Anglo American Platinum has conducted a number of community relocations to facilitate mine expansion. This has built a lucrative platinum business portfolio for the company, but little value for the communities. Anglo American Platinum’s previous relocations, including the Magobading and Ga-pila Sterkwater communities, have left a bitter taste in these communities. The relocations have been badly handled and community members do not consider that they made life any better for them. There are still outstanding demands and many unfulfilled promises. The current project to expand the Mogalakwena mine is anticipated to include the relocation of 1000 households in Skimming village but is being pursued with with little transparency.
“Relocation is a very serious concern because community relocation impacts generations. According to the Relocated community of Magobading Anglo American Platinum has frustrated them by always playing hot and cold. Magobading community was relocated in 2002 to make way for the Twickenham shaft. The community has been communicating their dissatisfaction with this relocation since 2009. Anglo American Platinum has been promising to address their concerns. An intervention in which Bench Marks Foundation was involved led to an agreement on compensation of R10 million, which was paid to families in 2020. This was over 10 years since the community raised the issue of inadequate compensation. However, the community’s other priorities, which include replacing grazing land, general infrastructure development, renovations of houses, access to water and relocation of graves, have not been addressed. The community is now reporting that they have been calling on the company for engagement on these promises to no avail. The community have marched and written to the office of the CEO but there has been no positive response.
“The same goes for the Sterkwater community, which was relocated after a protracted conflict over the quality of housing provided by Anglo American in early 2000. This was the most difficult relocation as it was largely resisted and ended up in a confrontation between the community and the police. This community has not completely healed and settled as they still contest the quality of their houses and are aggrieved over the quality of land as compared to the previous settlement. They claim that the promised employment has failed. The Sterkwater community have waited on the Independent Resettlement Review Report which was commissioned by Anglo American Platinum but it has not been released to them but has only been verbally presented. The community believe this is inadequate. They say that the company has not bothered to engage with the community.
“The most painful issue for the Skimming/Leruleng community is that 1000 households face relocation to a place not yet known. The relocation process does not meet recognised standards of transparency. There is confusion in the community. There is no clear documentation of who is going to be relocated at what time. As a result, there is high tension and suspicion of outsiders. The process has commenced with a survey of which the community have no full knowledge. A large section of the community are rejecting this relocation because of the lack of information. The community is currently divided and tensions are high. Relocation requires openness and clear independent monitoring by civil society. This process has been shrouded in mystery and the community are being provided with very limited information on which to make decisions.
“Lastly, the issue of concern raised by SCMAC is the attitude of the leadership of Anglo-American Platinum with regard to engagement. The current attitude is problematic: there is no appetite to engage with the directly affected communities. The company has been playing a diplomatic game which does not involve actually changing their practice. SCMAC have marched and presented a memorandum of demands and requested engagement with the company but with no result. The Bench Marks Foundation’s intervention has not succeeded in persuading Anglo American Platinum to engage with the communities.
“The question therefore is, what will Anglo American plc’s management in London do to ensure that Anglo American Platinum treats communities in Limpopo with sufficient respect to deal with their concerns, engage with them honestly and share information about relocation plans fully and promptly?”
Stuart Chambers said that it was important that such resettlements were not only done to the company’s own internal high standards but also consistent with the IFC standards. People should, at a minimum, be no worse off than they were before. He said there were a lot of details contained within a statement such as that issues were not being resolved in a timely fashion. Some of the resettlements are very advanced and others are yet to come. The board is very aware of a situation that goes back two or three years where the company was concerned about whether it had enough resource and enough focus on local issues around Mototolo and that was significantly beefed up as a result of that both in London and locally. The company wanted to “up its game” in these areas.
He said that my suggestion to intersperse questions was a very constructive one. The company could do that, and he would think about it.
He asked me to send him the question in writing after the meeting. He said that he would look into this issue to see what could be done, and let me know. He was aware of some of the issues, such as relocation of the graves, and maybe there are some which still have not been done, meaning that people have to travel a long way to pay their respects.
Duncan Wanblad added that he was aware that there were a number of outstanding legacy issues and that in some cases dealing with them was taking a lot of time but it is the company’s intention to apply the highest standards of relocation, and transparency is important for that to be the case. He went on, “I do know that the management of Anglo Platinum have reset themselves over the past three or four years. They are taking on and dealing with a number of these issues.” He gave an assurance that he would personally look into this and take it up with local management so that the company could hold itself to high standards.
Anglo American’s share price in comparison with Rio Tinto
Another shareholder asked about the comparative prices of Anglo American and Rio Tinto shares. He was disappointed that the Anglo American share price was not doing better. Stuart Chambers said that the board was doing all it could to deliver better value to shareholders over time but there are always short-term gyrations. Rio Tinto deals mainly with iron ore and aluminium so the prices of those commodities have a strong effect on the company’s share price. Anglo American is more diversified but geographically it is quite dependent on Southern Africa. If the price comparison had been with calendar 2022 it would have been very favourable. Over the past five years, Anglo American has outperformed Rio Tinto. Over the next three years, he was confident that Anglo American would outperform its peer again.
Infrastructure and the political system in South Africa
Anthony Robinson, a journalist from South Africa, expressed his view that the country had declined considerably since the end of the Apartheid era, particularly in the matter of the decay of infrastructure. He said that the fate of South Africa and the fate of Anglo American are linked. At the recent Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Duncan Wanblad had said that companies like Anglo American were willing to repair the damage to infrastructure that had occurred over the past 30 years. Mr Robinson asked what is the company’s general strategy towards South Africa and what kind of political system is it hoping for and would support.
Stuart Chambers replied that the company was concerned that the infrastructure of South Africa is really struggling. There is an opportunity for public-private engagement. There are particular problems with energy and load-shedding by energy company Eskom, and logistics, especially railways.
Duncan Wanblad added that at the Indaba, his remarks had focused on the role for business and civil society to play with government to change outcomes for the whole of society. Anglo American would be prepared to continue to push on effective solutions and outcomes beneficial not only to business but to the whole country. The company does not get to elect the government and the company’s job is to work with the elected government in the most proactive and constructive way. Anglo American will continue to work hard, in whichever country it operates, to achieve positive outcomes.
Our friends in communities in Latin America and Southern Africa will be looking forward to the achievement of the hoped-for positive outcomes.