Friday, December 15, 2017
Themba Mkhwanazi

Themba Mkhwanazi

Kumba Iron Ore

ONE assumes Themba Mkhwanazi took the job at Kumba Iron Ore with eyes wide open given that parent, Anglo American, is intent on selling or demerging the company in 2017. For now, his task is to build on the work of predecessor, Norman Mbazima, who restructured the company’s flagship asset, Sishen Iron Ore, and closed Thabazimbi. Some 4,000 jobs were lost in this process. The improvement in the iron ore price has no doubt assisted Mkhwanazi: for instance, by the time he took to his office chair in September, R4.6bn in net debt had been zeroed. Mkhwanazi’s star has been steadily rising for over six years so it may be he’s a future leader of the demerged iron ore and coal assets that Anglo hives off – if that’s the plan – especially as he previously led Anglo Coal. For now, there are still considerable challenges. One is some R6.5bn in tax claims against Kumba from the South African Revenue Service that the firm insists is not due. Reports within Kumba say Mkhwanazi is a decisive, respected leader. His job from here, in his own words, is to make Kumba as enticing and as profitable as possible.


Themba’s senior executive career began at Richards Bay Minerals where he was COO for three years until 2010. He thereafter worked in Brisbane for Rio Tinto’s coal division before being deployed in the Anglo-Australian firm’s America’s division where he was regional GM. He was appointed CEO of Anglo Coal before taking up the CEO position at Kumba in September 2016. Born in Swaziland, he has a B.Eng from the UK’s Teeside University.

“Kumba and its subsidiaries believe that all taxes owed under South African tax legislation have been paid.”