ANGLO American’s outgoing CEO, Cynthia Carroll, on Thursday called on mining companies to find ways to make a positive difference to their employees rather than wait for the government to take responsibility.
She cautioned that the government might be prompted to introduce tougher rules and regulations on the industry if it did not do more to improve the lives of employees and their families.
Speaking at the Women in Mining SA breakfast, Ms Carroll cited the recent unrest and violent strikes in the industry that led to the death of at least 44 people in Rustenburg, in North West, which she said had done great damage to businesses, economic growth and the country’s reputation in the international community.
She said the strikes had shown that the approach of the mining companies was not consistent in terms of pay, working conditions, safety, health and the overall wellbeing of its people.
"When we reflect on the causes of the unrest, which are complex, it is clear the strikers and the communities they come from feel a sense of frustration and unfairness," Ms Carroll said.
"I don’t pretend for a moment that these challenges can be overcome in a year, five years or a generation — nor can they be solved by government or a single industry. Our industry has the wherewithal to improve the lives of its people, and, by extension, their families and communities," she said.
She made an example of an Anglo American enterprise development fund called Zimele, which she said had created more than 11,000 nonmining jobs in the rural areas since 1989.
The number is expected to reach 25,000 jobs by 2015.
"The game is changing. What used to be enough is no longer — and we, as an industry, need to step up to the plate," she said.
While the mining industry was facing tough times, it could not ignore the unrest in society and let it continue to destabilise communities and devalue businesses.
Anglo, which holds a majority stake in the world’s largest platinum producer, Anglo American Platinum, is reviewing its operations as a result of a platinum surplus, which has depressed the platinum price throughout the year.
The world’s largest producer of the metal will make the results of its year-long business review public in January.
Ms Carroll resigned from her position as Anglo CEO last month, but has said she will remain at the helm until a replacement can be found. She also wants to see through the completion of the review of Anglo American Platinum.
Although Anglo is yet to name her successor, AngloGold Ashanti CEO Mark Cutifani has been named as a possible replacement.
South African-born Xstrata CE Mick Davis, who is likely to lose his job when the Glencore-Xstrata merger goes through, has also been rumoured to be a candidate.
BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers is also among the names that have been thrown into the hat as potential leaders of Anglo American.
With Monde Maoto