Anglo American to divest from thermal coal operations by 2023

The truck workshop at Coal’s Mafube Colliery. (Credit: Anglo American)

Anglo American will divest from its South African and Colombian thermal coal operations by mid-2023, the miner said on Friday.

The global miner said a de-merger and listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the most likely route for its South African thermal coal assets, which include three wholly-owned and operated mines – Goedehoop, Greenside and Khwezela.

“With the bulk of (growth) options in copper, PGMs, and now also crop nutrients, we are increasingly positioned to supply those metals and minerals that enable a cleaner, greener, more sustainable world,” Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said on Friday in an annual update to investors.

The De Beers owner also trimmed its diamond production forecasts for the next two years

Cutifani said the company planned to exit its Cerrejon thermal coal mine in Colombia within 1 1/2 to 2 years, while the South African thermal coal exit will happen within 2 1/2 years.

Anglo American said production across all minerals will increase by 14% in 2021 and unit costs are expected to fall by 3%.

Capital expenditure would be between $5.7 billion and $6.2 billion next year, reflecting deferred 2020 spending and new investments.

“We expect to deliver sector leading volume growth of 20-25% over the next three to five years that includes first copper production from Quellaveco in 2022. We are on track to deliver our targeted $3-4 billion run-rate of incremental annual improvement by the end of 2022,” said Cutifani.

The miner said it expects to produce 890,000 to 1 million tonnes of copper in 2023. It cut its 2022 copper production forecast, though, to 680,000-790,000 tonnes, from 700,000-810,000.

Diamonds

The De Beers owner also trimmed its diamond production forecasts for the next two years, from 31-million carats in 2019 to 33-35-million carats in 2021 and 30-33-million carats in 2022. The world’s top diamond producer by value, saw rough diamond production decrease by 5% to 8.7-million carats in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

“Current diamond prices will increase pressure on producers and output will shrink unless they rally,” Cutifani said.

Jefferies analyst Christopher LaFemina told Reuters the cuts to copper and diamond forecasts were “unhelpful” considering organic growth is a unique aspect of the investment case for Anglo American.

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