Outgoing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll delivering her keynote address at the Mining Indaba on Tuesday. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Outgoing Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll delivering her keynote address at the Mining Indaba on Tuesday. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

OUTGOING Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll on Tuesday called on the government to ensure the South African mining sector remains competitive in a tough global economy.

Delivering her keynote address at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Ms Carroll said: "The need to be competitive is not confined to companies – it is also relevant to countries."

Ms Carroll, who has been at Anglo American’s helm for six years, talked about four "truths" — namely the rule of law, that anarchy cannot be tolerated in the workplace, that mining companies have to obey the laws of supply and demand, and that they operate in globally competitive markets.

She said globally, the mining sector has been under severe economic pressure, with depressed commodity prices reflecting uncertainty about short-term demand.

Compounding this for South Africa were the experiences of industrial strife and the human tragedy of Marikana.

She said in the modern world, no country is an economic island.

"Like any other nation, South Africa will only succeed if it fosters an environment that is conducive to business and attractive to international investors. Creating that environment starts with the need for stable labour relations and the maintenance of law and order."

Ms Carroll said regulatory stability was also key to competitiveness.

"Mining is an industry with long-term horizons. When making investments, mining companies have to think decades ahead," she added.

"They need certainty as to the rules under which they will operate. They will not invest if there is a fear of onerous and unpredictable regulatory change. And nor will they invest if there is a threat that existing regulatory requirements will be enforced in an arbitrary and unequal manner," she said.

Ms Carroll said that although she was leaving Anglo American, she would not be "...riding off into the sunset".