Mark Cutifani. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS
Mark Cutifani. Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

Fresh from a protracted struggle over a new mining charter, Anglo American has turned its attention to SA’s land reform debate and the associated consequences arising from fears about security of tenure, a big factor in mining investment decisions.

SA’s constitution could be amended to give the state the right to expropriate land without compensation.

While the debate around land reform has a long way to go, Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani said it was the most asked question about the company’s investments in SA by investors around the world uneasy about what the ramifications could be for the company’s mines.

“For us, the next big conversation that needs to occur is about land. It is an important point. The debate is an opportunity for the nation to demonstrate that we can once more rise above the understandably emotive issues around land to find solutions that are sustainable and inclusive,” Cutifani said at a media dinner on Wednesday night.

“SA’s drive for greater investment can only be enhanced if the government clearly articulates what excellence looks like in the land issue. What does the end game look like in terms of diversifying land ownership and ensuring land productivity?

“Answering the question will help investors understand how their investments might be affected and how they can help SA achieve the desired outcome,” he said.

Cutifani hinted at actions that Anglo would take in coming months and while he was not specific on details it was thought this could take the form of donating underutilised land around some of its mines to nearby communities and providing infrastructure.

The transition away from Jacob Zuma’s nine-year presidency was applauded and held up by Cutifani as an example of how SA was able to turn away from bad situations.

“The positive developments in SA’s political landscape this past year have once again demonstrated this powerful trait. Faced with a political environment that was untenable in all respects, the country took a different turn and got back on its destined path, a path of good governance, progress and political stability,” he said.

Cutifani hailed the collaborative process of arriving at the final version of the mining charter after the shambolic process and document gazetted by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane in June 2017, which prompted an immediate legal backlash from the Minerals Council SA.

The imperfect new charter agreed with new minister Gwede Mantashe was something Anglo could work with and it and the rest of SA’s mining industry and investors were awaiting the underlying guidelines to the document that were expected to give clarity on some clauses and their implementation.

“While we don’t have all the things we’d like to see that would, in our view, provide the foundation for significant investment going forward, we are a long way down the track. There’s a pathway there that we think should benefit the country in the long term,” he said.

The $6bn investment Anglo recently recommitted to making in SA was “at risk” if the trajectory the country was on, particularly around the charter, continued, he said. “That confidence has returned.”

seccombea@bdfm.co.za