Cynthia Carroll At Anglo American A

Topics: Mining, South Africa, Africa Pages: 36 (6773 words) Published: May 28, 2015
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REV: MARCH 3, 2015


Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American (A)
On June 27, 2007, Cynthia Carroll (HBS ’89), the newly-appointed chief executive of mining giant Anglo American PLC, was flying by helicopter to Johannesburg from the company’s platinum mines in Rustenburg, South Africa. Carroll was the first non-South African and the first woman to lead the 90-year old company. When she landed, Ralph Havenstein, the chief executive of Anglo American Platinum, majority-owned by Anglo American, pulled Carroll aside. “I have some bad news,” he said, “We’ve had another fatality.”1

The latest incident brought the year-to-date number of fatalities to 29 miners. Between 2002 and 2006, the company averaged 46 deaths in mining accidents each year. “In my first address to shareholders in April 2007, I was clear with them,” Carroll said. “These fatalities and injuries are unacceptable.”

The past few months had been a particularly bad period for safety at the Rustenburg mines. Over several weeks, five workers had been killed in three separate incidents—“three when they were inundated by a mud rush, one when he was thrown off a conveyer belt and another after he was struck by a blasting barricade.”2 Despite the spate of fatalities, Anglo American’s South African operations were not markedly different from other South African mining companies, and, in fact, had seen substantial safety improvements in recent years.

Still, the fatalities left Carroll indignant. Only on the job four months, Carroll needed to decide what she should do. She was resolved that such tragedies must no longer occur at Anglo American – but how should she make that happen? She even considered shutting down the mines for safety reasons, something that no company had ever done before. Should she go so far?

Anglo American
Anglo American was the world’s most diversified mining company, by both geography and commodity mix. Ninety percent of its operations were in developing countries. It was the largest producer of platinum (about 40% of world output), and of diamonds (through its De Beers unit). The company, with nearly $25 billion in annual revenues, was also a major producer of copper, nickel, iron ore, and coal for both steelmaking and power generation. (See Exhibits 1 and 2 for financial results.) At the end of 2006, Anglo American was the fourth-largest mining company in the world, ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Professor Gautam Mukunda, Case Reseacher Lisa Mazzanti and Senior Case Researcher Aldo Sesia (Case Research and Writing Group) prepared this case. It was reviewed and approved before publication by a company designate. Funding for the development of this case was provided by Harvard Business School, and not by the company. HBS cases are developed solely as the basis for class discussion. Cases are not intended to serve as endorsements, sources of primary data, or illustrations of effective or ineffective management. Copyright © 2013, 2015 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-5457685, write Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.


Cynthia Carroll at Anglo American (A)

based on market capitalization, behind BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. 3 The company had 162,000 employees; two-thirds located in South Africa.
Anglo American, founded in South Africa in 1917 by Sir Ernest Oppenheimer with involvement from Herbert Hoover, J.P. Morgan & Co., and Guaranty Trust, started as a mining investment company focused on gold, diamonds, and platinum. Economic sanctions during the apartheid era (1948 to 1994) and South Africa’s capital...
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