Wanblad says Anglo must “stick to the plan” after year of “unprecedented” weather events

Duncan Wanblad, CEO, Anglo American

ANGLO American CEO Duncan Wanblad said he was hoping for an improved operational performance in 2023 in which the group could “stick to the plan” better than in 2022 when “unprecedented weather” overwhelmed it.

“We have some severe weather impacts that were beyond the capability of any of the planning systems,” he said in an interview on Monday. “In Anglo the planning is quite good, but pretty much across the group we saw mega impacts in every operating region.┬áThat is stuff that happens and it happened at a scale that is quite unprecedented,” he said.

“We were unable to stick to the plan and we need to do some work on our own front to impove that.”

While Wanblad identified Brazil, Chile, and Peru as regions where assets could perform better, it was in South Africa where there were a number of planning setbacks extending beyond the publicised problems of its failing infrastructure.

Anglo pushed back two major projects: the expansion of Mogalakwena by its 80% owned listed subsidiary, Anglo American Platinum, and a project at Kumba Iron Ore aimed at improving yield called the ultra high density separation plant (UHDMS).

“A lot of stuff happens associated with coming out of Covid,” said Wanblad. “No one realised how severe that was in terms of where we were and where we planned to be in terms of an execution point of view.”

Wanblad said he was optimistic there would be less volatility affecting world markets. “It looks like China is going to stimulate [its economy]. The big issue is whether Covid [last year’s lockdown regime] has had a material affect on their ability to come out and whether that slows it down,” he said.

“Russia hasn’t gone away and interest rates haven’t come down as yet, but it will be a little less volatile in 2023,” he said.

Backlogs on supply chains had improved but continued to pose problems. “Where you would plan a large maintenance event with a two week horizon it now becomes closer to a month.”

“Copper, nickel and platinum group metals are still likely to be fairly robust in the short run. The shortness in the market will be evident in the next few weeks. There are still deep growth aspirations and you will feel the tightness as there’s not a lot of metals coming on stream,” he said.