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Anglo American appoints South African Duncan Wanblad as CEO to replace Mark Cutifani

Wanblad is the first local to be appointed to the position in more than a decade.
Duncan Wanblad will take over the helm as CEO of Anglo American in April 2022. Image: Supplied

Anglo American has chosen a 54-year old South African, Duncan Wanblad, as the successor to outgoing CEO Mark Cutifani, who steps down in April next year after nine years at the helm.

Tony Trahar was the last South African CEO at Anglo. He retired in 2007, and was succeeded by Cynthia Carroll of the US, and Mark Cutifani from Australia.

Wanblad was appointed group director for strategy and business development at Anglo in 2016, and also served as CEO of its base metals business from 2013 to 2019. He has spent most of his working career within the Anglo family.

He is also a non-executive director of De Beers and Kumba Iron Ore, and chairs the Anglo American Foundation. Between 2009 and 2013, he was group director for the Other Mining and Industrial portfolio at Anglo American, where he was responsible for a global portfolio of mining and industrial businesses for disposal or turnaround as part of a programme to maximise shareholder value.

Read: Anglo American pays out record $4.1bn to shareholders in H1

He was appointed CEO of Anglo American’s Copper operations in 2008, prior to which he served as joint interim CEO of Anglo American Platinum from 2007 (having served on the board since 2004). From 2004 to 2007, Wanblad served as executive director of projects and engineering at Anglo American Platinum.

He started his career at Johannesburg Consolidated Investment (JCI) Company in 1990. He holds a BSc in Mechanical Engineering and a GDE in Industrial Engineering, both from the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Said Cutifani in a statement released on Wednesday: “There has been no greater privilege for me than leading Anglo American and our incredible people. Together, we have transformed our competitive position and led the way towards a very different future for mining – a safer, smarter future that delivers enduring value for all our stakeholders. By delivering our promises, we have established the credibility and capabilities that are the foundation for Anglo American’s next phase of growth. I can think of no better leader than Duncan to pick up the baton and pursue the many opportunities that lie ahead for our business.”

Read: Anglo American through the ages

Though Cutifani steps down as CEO on April 19, 2022, Anglo says he will remain on until June 2022 to support the transition. Mr Cutifani will be expected to maintain a holding of Anglo American shares equivalent to four times his salary on cessation, for a period of two years, says the Anglo statement.

Wandblad was the standout candidate to take over the helm at Anglo American, said Anglo chair Stuart Chambers in a media call on Tuesday: “The board’s appointment of Mark Cutifani was an inspired decision that has served Anglo American and all its stakeholders well over almost a decade. Beyond his unquestionable mining expertise, his personal qualities as a leader to inspire people towards an ambition are second to none. He has led his executive team with distinction through thick and thin to transform Anglo American’s performance and prospects, helping build a culture of self-belief and resilience. Mark’s legacy in the areas of safety, the power of engagement, and his vision for a very different and sustainable future for mining enabled through technology, deserve particular recognition. The board is enormously grateful to Mark for his unerring commitment and all that he has achieved.”

Cutifani was appointed in 2013, and reportedly developed a close working bond with Wanblad during that period.

Says Wanblad: “Having started my career underground as a junior engineer, I have never lost sight of what it takes to produce the metals and minerals that are ever more vital to support our life on this planet. Our responsibility to do so safely and sustainably, including meeting our employees’ and stakeholders’ expectations of us, has never been greater. Through the way we work, the technologies we are deploying to drive us towards our sustainability goals, and the breadth of opportunities I can see, we are determined to live up to that promise.”

Responding to media questions, Wanblad says challenges that face all mining companies are dealing with regulators and communities, managing inflation and the rollout of organic projects that have already been announced.

Anglo says Tony O’Neill, head of technical, and chief finance officer Stephen Pearce, remain committed to working with Wanblad in the next phase of its growth. Pearce and Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, were likely among the contenders for the Anglo CEO position.

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