Summary of updated findings
In response to the dramatic restructuring plans announced by Anglo American on 16 February 2016, in particular plans to sell off its South African coal and iron ore assets,1 the CER sent an open letter2 to Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani on 29 February 2016. The letter called for transparency and public participation in the transfer of any of the company’s mining rights.
South Africa has seen a trend of larger mining companies selling mines, usually with significant environmental liabilities, to smaller mining companies after most of the reserve has been exhausted. The trend sees these smaller companies going insolvent shortly after the sale, before any of the prescribed rehabilitation of environmental damage has taken place. Transparency and public participation in this process are imperative to ensure that the environmental liabilities of these operations are not in due course added to the burden of over 6000 so-called “derelict and ownerless” mines already borne by the South African public.
Anglo American responded to the CER’s open letter on 16 March 2016.3 The company’s response was disappointing, and failed to address substantively any of the concerns raised. Anglo American avoided making any specific commitments to transparency and consultation around the environmental implications of its restructuring plans, while simultaneously claiming that it has “consistently demonstrated good corporate citizenship”.
- http://www.angloamerican.com/~/media/Files/A/Anglo-American-PLC-V2/press-release/releases/2016pr/strengthened-balance-sheet-160216.pdf (last accessed on 7 November 2016).
- http://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/CER-Letter-to-Anglo-American-PLC-29-Feb-2016.pdf (last accessed on 7 November 2016).
- http://cer.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Anglo-American-Response-to-CER-Open-Letter-16-March-2016.pdf (last accessed on 7 November 2016).