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Anglo American to exit thermal coal production by 2024

(Montel) Anglo American plans to exit thermal coal production by 2024, slightly later than previously planned, amid efforts to improve its green credentials, the mining giant said on Thursday.

“It is our intention to exit from our 33.3% shareholding in the Cerrejon thermal coal operation in Colombia in a responsible way and within three years,” the miner said in its full-year results.

It had previously announced its ambition to divest from its Colombian asset by mid-2023.

Its share of output from Colombia’s Cerrejon mining complex – jointly owned by Anglo American, BHP and Glencore – was 52% lower on the year in 2020 at 4.1m tonnes, due largely due to three-month strike action.

BHP also plans to ditch its stake in Cerrejon over the coming years, although market participants have said finding a buyer could prove challenging given current coal market conditions and investor efforts to shun the polluting fuel.

South Africa

Anglo American previously said it would exit its South African thermal coal operations by 2023.

“Planned divestment of South African thermal coal production capacity is expected no later than May 2022-May 2023,” it said in the report.

Its South African mines produced 16.5m tonnes of export grade material last year, down 7% year on year.

In 2021, Anglo American aims to produce 24m tonnes, of which 16m tonnes will be from South African and the remainder from Colombia.

A number of miners have pledged to divest from their thermal coal assets in recent years, with mining giant Rio Tinto having exited completely in 2018.

Anglo American's earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Editda) fell 2% year on year to USD 9.8bn, though it marked a recovery in H2 due to rising commodities prices. H1 Ebitda had crashed 40% year on year on the back of the coronavirus crisis.