In pursuit of our ambition of becoming the leading global mining company, we have made further strategic progress to focus the business on its core mining portfolio, by making further disposals of non-core assets, securing new order mining rights and positioning the Group for profitable growth.
In April, Anglo American was granted its new order mining rights conversions by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy. The conversions relate to the mineral rights across our businesses in South Africa. This significant achievement provides an ever stronger platform for the Group’s long term development projects in South Africa, our employees and contractors, as well as for the many black empowered businesses with which we are partnered.
In May, we disposed of the Group’s interest in China Shenhua Energy, realising cash proceeds of $704 million and, in June, we sold Tarmac Iberia to Holcim for a consideration of $186 million. The Tarmac group continues to be managed to maximise shareholder value while options for its sale continue to be explored, recognising that the sale of a business of its scale is unlikely in the near term.
In August, following a series of transactions in 2007 and 2008, we acquired control of the Minas-Rio iron ore project and the Amapá iron ore system. The Minas-Rio project has considerable expansion potential and is a key element in the Group’s long term iron ore growth ambitions.
In October, the sale of the Namakwa Sands mineral sands business was completed and, in November, we sold 26% interests in both the Black Mountain zinc, lead and copper operation and the Gamsberg zinc project to Exxaro Resources for a total consideration of approximately $353 million.
After the year end, Anglo American reduced its shareholding in AngloGold Ashanti to 11.8%, realising total proceeds of $434 million.
Early in the year, mining production in South Africa was severely disrupted for a short time owing to national electricity supply problems. While the crisis was averted through collaboration and consensus across the mining industry, resulting in ongoing reduced power usage, we are continuing to play an important role, working in partnership with the South African government and Eskom to develop and implement long term solutions to guarantee electricity supply.
As we strive to deliver superior operating performance, we also made several senior management changes during 2008, marking a significant strengthening of the leadership team, involving a combination of internal and external appointments. These have included new CEOs for Anglo Platinum, Anglo Coal and Kumba Iron Ore.
Our executive team has been further strengthened through the appointment of Russell King as chief strategy officer, with Mervyn Walker taking over the human resources portfolio and joining the Executive Committee (ExCo). We also welcomed Kuseni Dlamini back to the Group in his new position as head of Anglo American South Africa; he is also a member of ExCo.
During the year, John Wallington, who had served the Group for 27 years, was succeeded as chief executive of Anglo Coal by Ian Cockerill, who returned to the Group after having been CEO of Gold Fields for six years. The Board wishes John well for the future. Neville Nicolau moved from AngloGold Ashanti to head up Anglo Platinum in succession to Norman Mbazima and Duncan Wanblad, who have assumed the respective roles of CEO of Scaw Metals and head of copper at Anglo Base Metals.