Anglo American launches $1 billion share buyback

July 25, 2019

Higher iron ore prices and the ramping up of operations at its Minas-Rio project in Brazil have driven Anglo American to its best first half since 2011, however, fatal accidents over the summer have marred the positive results.

Reuters reported that the company announced that it raised its dividend payout by 27 percent and announced a $1 billion share buyback. But, chief executive officer Mark Cutifani said fatal accidents detracted from the strong results. The company is investigating the death of 10 employees traveling from work in Chile in late June and early July, as well as three workplace fatalities in the first half.

“Our determination to reach and sustain zero harm is our most pressing challenge,” Cutifani said. “The safety of our people ? at work or traveling to and from home ? is paramount.”

Anglo American reported underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $5.45 billion in the six months ended June 30, beating the $5.16 billion expected by a company-compiled consensus of 12 analysts.

In response to the commodity market crash of 2015-2016, Anglo American said it would narrow its business to copper, platinum group metal and diamonds.

It halted an asset sell-off as the market recovered, so it benefited from this year’s outperformance of iron ore that followed cyclone disruption of output Australia and reduced production in Brazil after a Vale dam burst in January that killed at least 240 people.

Iron ore futures fell this week after Vale received approval to resume some operations, but Cutifani said Minas-Rio’s high grade ore would remain in demand.

Anglo needs one more permit to increase capacity at its Minas-Rio iron ore mine in Brazil, which Cutifani told reporters he expected to secure by the end of this year.

Following the ramping up of operations so far at Minas-Rio, Anglo American increased annual output guidance to between 19 Mt and 21 Mt (21 million and 23 million st) from 18 Mt to 20 Mt (20 million to 22 million st) previously.

Anglo America says it is on track to deliver first copper product at Quellaveco in Peru in 2022, ramping up in 2023, and Cutifani said the company was also exploring further in that region, as well as in Brazil.

The company also announced the board had approved a six-year mine-life extension at Aquila coking coal operations in Queensland, Australia, at a cost of $226 million.

 Photo: Anglo American's Minas Rio project. Photo courtesy of Anglo American

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