Anglo takes the bull by the horns

Mpumelelo Mkhabela

Mpumelelo Mkhabela

The global economic crisis has led to the bankruptcy of many reputable firms around the world and while the majority of South African companies have managed to sidestep the worst of the crunch, the downturn is clearly being felt.

Kuseni Dlamini, head of Anglo American South Africa, talks about how the group is dealing with the crisis.

To what extent and how has Anglo American been affected by the global financial crisis?

Volatility and uncertainty in global markets, coupled with the slowdown in the world's major economies, has resulted in an unprecedented declines in commodity prices.

The immediate outlook is challenging. We have taken decisive action to position Anglo American through the cycle: 2009 capital expenditure has been reduced by more than 50percent to $4,5billion; production growth from certain operations has been scaled back to meet the lower demand outlook; global head-count reduction of 19000 is under way, we have suspended our share buy-back programme and our dividend payments to safeguard balance sheet flexibility.

The government has deferred the implementation of the mining royalty legislation to mitigate the impact the global crisis has had on mining companies. Was it a worthy course or a symbolic gesture?

This was a worthy course. It will help ensure that we emerge from the current crisis better able to take advantage of more favourable conditions in the future.

The concept of "decent work/jobs" as coined by the International Labour Organisation has become popular in local political discourse as a promise to the electorate. Is it possible to achieve in the light of economic contraction?

Decent work is achievable. It has to be a shared goal. The economic downturn is about job losses and although the concept of decent work includes job creation, one cannot allow these losses to undermine the aspirations of those who remain in employment.

Or should it be deferred?

These ideals should not be deferred; to argue that bad times justify a deviation from these norms would be a step backwards.