AngloGold Ashanti chief executive Mark Cutifani is the leading contender to replace Cynthia Carroll at the helm of mining company Anglo American, according to people familiar with the situation.
Cutifani had emerged at the top of a list of candidates that included former BHP Billiton chief executive Chip Goodyear and Chris Griffith, the head of Anglo American’s platinum unit, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter was private.
The decision is not yet final on a replacement for Carroll, who said in October she would resign as chief executive of the London-based mining house after a $14 billion (R118.5 billion) drop in market value.
Carroll’s successor might be announced within two weeks, the people said.
The new chief executive will face the challenge of lifting growth at Anglo American, which has struggled with cost overruns at projects, including the Minas Rio iron ore mine in Brazil, and sparred with Chile’s state mining company Codelco.
“Mark is a pretty energetic guy,” said Caesar Bryan, a portfolio manager at Gabelli, in Rye, New York, which owns Anglo American and AngloGold shares. “He’s someone that’s very focused on return on invested capital and he seems to have an open mind to doing things differently.”
Carroll, 56, is the first woman, external hire and non- South African to lead Anglo American. She held the job for about five years before the search for a replacement, which was led by chairman John Parker.
Anglo American and AngloGold officials declined to provide comment.
Cutifani, an Australian, became the chief executive of AngloGold in 2007, replacing Bobby Godsell. He was previously chief operating officer of Vale’s nickel-mining operations, and was managing director of Australian gold and tantalum producer Sons of Gwalia until 2003. A mining engineer by training, Cutifani is also president of South Africa’s Chamber of Mines group.
At AngloGold, he has led efforts to increase production capacity to benefit from record prices for the precious metal. Cutifani has also been an advocate for economic reform in South Africa, where AngloGold is based and Anglo American has many of its operations.
Anglo American’s platinum, iron ore, and diamond mines in South Africa were among those idled last year by a wave of sometimes violent strikes that followed a six-week protest at mines owned by Lonmin. Workers demanded higher wages and complained of poor living conditions and bad labour union representation.
Anglo American, founded in 1917 to mine gold in the East Rand region, generated more than half of its 2011 operating profit in the country.
Carroll said in December the company was committed to its presence there.
In contrast, Johannesburg-based Gold Fields is planning to split its international operations from most of its mines in South Africa.
AngloGold in November halved its dividend and reduced planned spending by $200 million after all of its South African mines were shut down. It also operates in countries including Mali and Australia. – Matthew Campbell and Firat Kayakiran from Bloomberg