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Anglo-American names Mpumi Zikalala, CEO of Kumba Iron Ore

  • Mpumi Zikalala, the current managing director of De Beers managed operations, will take over as CEO of Kumba Iron Ore on January 1, Anglo said in a statement Tuesday.
  • She will replace Themba Mkhwanazi, who will take over as head of bulk commodities from Seamus French, who is leaving the company.
  • The changes come as mining continues to be dominated by men, despite attempts by corporations such as BHP Group to enhance the participation of women in management positions.

Anglo American Plc has chosen a female CEO to lead its South African iron ore division for the first time, as the mining conglomerate restructures its top bulk commodities management.

Mpumi Zikalala, the current managing director of De Beers managed operations, will take over as CEO of Kumba Iron Ore on January 1, Anglo said in a statement Tuesday. She will replace Themba Mkhwanazi, who will take over as head of bulk commodities from Seamus French, who is leaving the company.

The changes come as mining continues to be dominated by men, despite attempts by corporations such as BHP Group to enhance the participation of women in management positions. Anglo, the historic miner with origins in South Africa, appointed Natascha Viljoen as CEO of its platinum-group metals unit, Anglo American Platinum, last year.

“I am especially happy that, with Nolitha Fakude as chair of our South African management board and Natascha Viljoen as CEO of our PGMs company, we will have three women of such high talent overseeing our vast interests in South Africa,” Anglo CEO Mark Cutifani said in a statement.

In 2019, Zikalala, 42, was chosen to lead De Beers’ South African and Canadian businesses. Since 2007, she has worked in the diamond sector.

Despite her lack of experience in bulk commodities, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Emmanuel Munjeri believes Zikalala’s background inside Anglo, substantial leadership experience, and engineering qualifications “should overcome any initial concerns from investors.”

Due to Chinese demand for Kumba’s high-grade iron ore, it has become one of Anglo’s most profitable divisions. While the company has profited from rising prices in recent years, Zikalala now confronts the challenge of discovering new deposits and expanding the company’s massive Sishen open pit operation in South Africa’s Northern Cape area.

Kumba’s shares plummeted 2.1 percent in Johannesburg, bringing the company’s year-to-date loss to 23 percent.

According to Anglo, Ruben Fernandes, CEO of base metals, will also be responsible for the iron ore and nickel operations in Brazil. He will be in charge of the company’s Quellaveco copper operation in Peru once it is operational.

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