CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Technological improvements have boosted productivity by 40 percent over the last three years and a further 40 percent can be delivered by 2020, Anglo American Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said on Monday.
“Since we started thinking about our business in a very different way, our productivity is up by around 40 percent since 2013,” Cutifani told the annual Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town.
“I would expect to see the same level of improvement from where we are today to be delivered through our current programmes by 2020.”
Anglo was focused on the smart use of data and “integrated systems thinking” to cut maintenance spending and reduce safety risks.
“We are using advanced analytics to interrogate existing data and to estimate the probability of component failure in some of our most important mining equipment,” he said.
Miners have been focused on cutting costs and boosting productivity in recent years as metals prices slumped, hitting multi-year lows early last year and squeezing profits.
Anglo reported a sharp production fall at its Los Bronces copper mine in Chile at the end of last year offsetting an overall increase in mineral output across its mines.
The global mining sector recovered strongly last year as metals prices rebounded, led by Anglo American, the top performer in the FTSE 100 index as the company’s shares recovered from a big sell-off in 2015.
Although the worst period for the mining sector may have passed, tough and uncertain times continue to lie ahead, Cutifani said.
“That is why resilience is so important,” he said. “We have to be leaner, we have to be hungry and we have to keep evolving quicker than our competitors.”
Additional reporting by Eric Onstad in London; editing by Jason Neely