AngloGold Ashanti swoops on former Orica boss

Former Orica boss Alberto Calderon has predicted a bright future for gold as a store of value in a world where central banks keep “printing money like there is no tomorrow” (reports The Australian Financial Review).
9th July 2021
Resources Rising Stars

Mr Calderon is taking the reins as chief executive at AngloGold Ashanti just a month after quitting as boss of Orica.

Johannesburg-based AngloGold Ashanti said Mr Calderon would bring two decades of executive leadership experience in the global mining sector to its operations in Africa, the Americas and Australia.

The world’s third-biggest gold miner had been on the hunt for a new chief executive since the departure of Kelvin Dushnisky last year.

Mr Calderon quit as chief executive of Orica in February, a year later than he had planned after agreeing to lead the explosives maker through the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former BHP executive said one of his priorities was to improve the credibility of AngloGold Ashanti with investors, noting that it traded at multiples far lower than bigger gold mining rivals Newmont and Barrick.

“It is about improvement in the credibility of its forecasts in production and costs,” he said.

“Success will follow from doing those basics right. We have wonderful people and wonderful assets. It is not like we have to discover new assets or have to go and buy things.”

Mr Calderon said the company had to get the market to believe in projects such as extending the life of the Geita mine in Tanzania with a move to underground operations and a big greenfields copper-gold development in his homeland of Colombia.

He is also keen to build on operations in Western Australia, where the Sunrise Dam and Tropicana mines produced 554,000 ounces of gold in 2020.

Mr Calderon said he was not worried about a recent softening in the gold price and was confident about its long-term strength in a “world full of debt”.

“I think it will be more valuable, if not in months but in years, than it is today,” he said. “It is not going back to $US1200-$US1300 [an ounce] again. Analysts talk a low case of $US1500-$US1600 and a high case that could be above $US2000.”

Mr Calderon’s roles at BHP included chief commercial officer and CEO of aluminium, nickel and corporate development. He is also a former chief executive of Cerrejón, Colombia’s largest mining operation, and one of the largest coal mining operations in the world.

AngloGold Ashanti chairman Maria Ramos said Mr Calderon’s appointment, effective from September, involved a global search and the assessment of other strong candidates.

Mr Calderon said AngloGold, which operates mines in nine countries, had an exciting future. He intends to run the company from Australia, spending most of his time in Melbourne and Perth.

AngloGold Ashanti said his leadership of BHP’s aluminium business, which had smelters in South Africa and Mozambique, gave him an excellent working knowledge of South Africa and its economic and political landscape.

Mr Dushnisky left AngloGold Ashanti after only two years at the helm, following the call of a big shareholder, South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, for an independent inquiry into a sign-on fee of more than $US900,000 he received after being poached from Barrick Gold.

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