The resources Anglo American considers critical to achieving its strategic aims include:
- Knowledge and expertise
- Proved and Probable reserves.
See full details of the Group's Ore Reserves and Minerals Resources
Knowledge and expertise
Anglo American has long been distinguished by its strong in-house technology capability. Anglo Technical Division (ATD) is the custodian of the specialised technologies employed throughout the Group, while Anglo Research identifies emerging technologies and develops them to pilot-plant scale and also assists in the rapid transfer of technologies across the Group. They are key members of Anglo American’s Technology Council, which meets quarterly to examine developing trends in the mining industry and to ensure that the Group takes full advantage of new and emerging technologies. The Group’s wide portfolio of technology expertise makes it an attractive partner for other companies wishing to develop mineral properties that had previously been considered too difficult or uneconomic to mine successfully.
“The Group’s wide portfolio of technology expertise makes it an attractive partner for other companies wishing to develop mineral properties that had previously been considered too difficult or uneconomic to mine successfully”
ATD continues to assist operations at Group sites worldwide, particularly in such fields as safety improvement, asset optimisation and energy efficiency. In the exploration field, the superconducting interference device (SQUID) has been successfully tested in two airborne applications and holds great promise to improve the sensitivity of exploration surveys. Investigation into the cause and effect of parametric resonance in large grinding mill systems has led to a whole new area of expertise in systems studies to prolong mechanical life and increase availability of large mills. ATD has developed guidelines for roll-over protection for mobile equipment and has assisted operations in designing appropriate structures for low-height vehicles and other special applications. A new electro-hydraulic rig for shaft sinking has been designed and developed by ATD engineers in conjunction with a major contracting company and is being tested at the Paardekraal 2 shaft of Anglo Platinum. Faster than conventional pneumatic drills, the rig can also drill the horizontal holes needed to insert ground support anchors, reducing the number of people needed in the congested area at the sinking face. In Australia, Anglo Coal is deploying the world’s largest underground mine hydraulic roof supports, with almost 50% more thrust than existing designs, at its Moranbah North longwall operation. ATD is assisting the equipment’s manufacturer with finite element analysis on the design to ensure that the supports are mechanically reliable and have the necessary structural strength to withstand the difficult geological conditions there.
At Anglo Research, innovative processes are being developed for the production of titanium and to extract nickel from laterite ores, with extensive pilot plant testing scheduled during 2008. Anglo Research has also upgraded its pressure leach pilot plant facility with new controls and instrumentation, enabling more precise data to be collected during test runs while simultaneously allowing operators to be removed from the immediate vicinity of the high-pressure equipment and the potentially aggressive chemical environment. This equipment is being used to study potential processes for the Mantoverde and Pebble orebodies. A new X-ray photo-electron spectroscope was commissioned during 2007 and is being used to study the surface chemistry of complex mineralogical samples, so that more precisely tailored processes can be developed for recovering them.
Anglo American has one of the largest project development portfolios in the mining industry. The growing influence of governments, local communities and NGOs, coupled with constraints on skills and resources such as water and energy, has prompted a reassessment of the way in which major projects are designed, assessed and implemented. A suite of tools and procedures, developed internally and in conjunction with international partners, is being rolled out across the Group to assist project managers in ensuring that due consideration is given to all relevant factors over the lifetime of each project.
Exploration continues to be one of the key growth activities for Anglo American, in greenfield and brownfield exploration, and in the identification of exploration properties for acquisition or company involvement. The continuing strong markets for mineral products, worries about global energy security and an upsurge in ‘resource nationalism’ are producing a challenging environment for mineral discovery and production. This is prompting an intense competition for exploration land holdings, moves towards increasing around-mine exploration for a ‘quick’ exploration discovery, and the growth of mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and inter-company exploration alliances. In 2007, the Group spent $283 million on exploration in 25 countries, (including De Beers at 100%, but excluding the activities of Anglo Gold Ashanti).
Anglo Base Metals (which spent $77 million) continued exploration around its Chilean copper mines and Brazilian nickel and phosphate mines, in addition to zinc exploration adjacent to operations in Namibia and South Africa. A number of new nickel and copper projects entered the project pipeline and advanced project work continued on the Boyongan-Bayugo copper-gold discoveries in the Philippines, the Jacaré nickel discovery in Brazil, the Sulfatos copper discovery in the Los Bronces region in central Chile, and the Gamsberg East zinc discovery in South Africa. Elsewhere, the Michiquillay copper project in Peru was added to the exploration portfolio through a successful bid, and a 50% interest in the Pebble copper-gold-molybdenum project in southern Alaska was negotiated successfully in 2007.
Anglo Coal ($32 million) continues to evaluate, assess and extend resources for thermal and coking coal, coal bed methane and oil sands. In South Africa in 2007 it successfully retained 94% of its coal prospecting rights, and continued its evaluation of coal bed methane (CBM) production in the Waterberg project area. Exploration activities in Australia concentrated on the Moranbah South, Dartbrook and Dawson projects. In Canada, Roman Mountain was the focus of exploration adjacent to the Trend Mine in British Columbia. In China, a two-phase exploration programme was aimed at bringing the Xiwan project geological data close to feasibility study level.
Anglo Platinum ($36 million) continues its programme of exploration around existing operations in South Africa’s Bushveld Complex, where new exploration permits were granted. Drilling was undertaken at the Danba project in southern China and in Murmansk Oblast in western Russia following encouraging exploration results. Exploration continued for platinum group elements with strategic partners in Brazil, Canada and Zimbabwe.
Anglo Ferrous Metals’ ($12 million) exploration for iron ore comprised both greenfield (Northern Cape) and brownfield (Sishen and Thabazimbi) activities in South Africa, and the initiation of greenfield exploration within the MMX Minas-Rio project area in Minas Gerais, Brazil at the Itapanhoacanga, Serro and Serra do Sapo sites.
De Beers ($126 million) is concentrating its search for diamonds in Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Canada, India and Russia. Projects have moved to an advanced stage in Botswana, especially with regard to the potential development of a kimberlite pipe in the Orapa region, and in Angola and the DRC.