AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL
AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

POLITICIANS’ threats to review mining licences are "out of order", the incoming CEO of Anglo American said on Thursday, criticising comments made after the miner’s struggling platinum arm announced 14,000 job cuts.

"Threats to licences are out of order," Mark Cutifani, who is currently CE of AngloGold Ashanti, said during a speech at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town.

"We shouldn’t be threatening licences when a company is looking at preserving its life," he said.

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) says its plan to mothball two mines and slash up to 14,000 jobs is crucial to restoring profit after the company suffered its first loss last year.

"I hope we’ve all learnt the lesson that we shouldn’t be threatening licences when a company is looking at preserving its life and making sure it’s got an operation that will last," Mr Cutifani said.

"Certainly consultation is part of that process, and we’ve all got to do better."

He said mining companies were open to dialogue but the government should craft its words on the subject carefully so as not to alarm investors.

The comments follow a warning last month from Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu that Anglo American Platinum risked losing its licence, after it announced plans to scale back operations that would result in up to 14,000 miners losing their jobs.

The minister’s threat saw Amplats’s share price drop sharply. The company has since reached an agreement with Ms Shabangu to follow a 90-day consultation process on the plan to close four of its loss-making shafts.

Sapa and Reuters