Mining companies have been restructuring in the face of falling global demand for commodities, but Anglo American — the world’s largest producer of platinum with around 40 percent of output — is making the most drastic moves, WallStreetJournal reported.
The 99-year-old Johannesburg and London-based mining giant is making radical changes in its business, including reducing its number of mining operations from 45 to 16.
The company announced a “jaw-dropping loss” of $5.6 billion in 2015 as a global rout in commodity prices walloped the mines it operates around the world, WSJ reported.
The company has mines in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America and South America.
Anglo American once dominated the South African coal industry and made billions of dollars investing in iron-ore mines. Now it plans to get out of coal mining completely and reduce its iron-ore operations—a radical shift for the company founded in 1917 by Ernest Oppenheimer.
Along with the American bank J.P. Morgan & Co., Oppenheimer founded Anglo American as a gold mining company with 1 million pounds, raised from U.K. and U.S. sources.
After selling between $3 billion and $4 billion worth of assets this year, Anglo plans to focus instead on platinum, diamonds and copper, WSJ reported. Its remaining assets are expected to see adjusted earnings margins of 30 percent, up from 23 percent for its current operations, the company said.
The company plans to use proceeds of the asset sales to pay down its net debt from $12.9 billion to less than $10 billion by the end of 2016, and aims to restore its credit rating.
On Monday, Moody’s cut Anglo’s credit rating to junk status — a new low for the big global mining companies that are all struggling with plunging commodity prices, BBC reported.
Anglo is suspending paying dividends to shareholders to conserve cash, BBC reported.
Other mining groups including Rio Tinto, Glencore and Brazil’s Vale have already cut dividend payouts to shareholders.
The restructuring is “about changing the balance sheet and it is about making sure we have a great company,” Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifanitold reporters Tuesday.
British-Australian mining company Rio Tinto PLC said last week it lost money in 2014 and cut its dividend, misreading demand from China, WSJ reported. Swiss miner and trader Glencore PLC announced a $10-billion debt-reduction plan that included a $2.5 billion share offering and suspending its dividend. Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton Ltd. is expected to cut its dividend when it reports earnings next week.