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AngloGold names ex-BHP exec Calderon as new CEO

Alberto Calderón. (Image courtesy of Orica.)

AngloGold Ashanti (NYSE: AU) (JSE: ANG) has appointed former BHP executive Alberto Calderón as its new CEO, ending almost a year without a top boss following Kelvin Dushnisky’s sudden departure last July.

Calderón, a 61-year-old Colombian with more than two decades of executive experience in the mining sector, will be starting in his new role on September 1, the company said.

A junior minister in a government that fought drug lord Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel, Calderón was chief executive of Orica Ltd, an Australian explosives maker, until February this year.

The Ivy League economist, who was one of the leading candidates for the top job at BHP before the position went to Andrew Mackenzie, once also ran Cerrejón Coal, which was recently acquired by Glencore

The world’s third-biggest gold miner had been on the hunt for a new chief executive since the sudden departure of Kelvin Dushnisky last year

Calderón’s experience and contacts in the home country will come in handy as AngloGold is moving forward with key expansions in Colombia, including its Gramalote joint venture with B2Gold (TSX:BTO) (NYSE:BTG). The asset is at the centre of long-dragged out mining rights dispute with Canada’s Zonte Metals that remains active.

Calderón said one of his priorities will be to improve the credibility of AngloGold Ashanti with investors, noting that the No. 3 gold producer is trading far lower than bigger rivals Newmont and Barrick.

AngloGold Ashanti has had a bad year, with the company’s lack of a permanent chief executive officer and a suspension of its Obuasi mine in Ghana weighing on the stock.

Investors reacted positively to the appointment of Calderón. The company’s shares climbed as much as in 6.7% pre-market in New York and closed almost 6% higher in in Johannesburg, the most in seven weeks.

The new CEO will have to take on the company’s battle to repatriate more than $461 million of its profit from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and resolve challenges with value added tax with the government in Tanzania.

He may also have to decide whether AngloGold should move its primary listing from Johannesburg — a topic discussed for years.

BMO metals and mining analyst, Raj Ray, said Calderón comes at at time considered transitional years for most of AngloGold’s operations, as the company focuses on ore reserves development.

“[He] is based out of Melbourne, Australia, so it will be interesting to see how he goes about building familiarity and understanding of the various operations quickly given the travel restrictions still in place,” Ray said in a note to investors.

Christine Ramon will remain as interim CEO as Calderón assumes the position, and she will return to her role as the company’s CFO.

During her year at the top job, Ramon laid out a plan to expand output at key operations in Tanzania, Ghana and Guinea. She also discussed investing more than $2 billion in two new mines in Colombia — Quebradona (copper-gold) and Gramalote (gold) — from 2022.