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AML rethinks strategies in Sierra Leone

AML rethinks strategies in Sierra Leone

The leadership of African Minerals has successfully ended a high level meeting at the Sierra Lighthouse, west of Freetown, to rethink its strategies on production and supply of iron ore in 2013 and going forward.   (Photo: AML CEO, Keith Calder)

The conference’s key idea was to take personal and team accountability across operations, projects, health, safety and environmental services, sustainability and human resources.

The 3-day senior leadership conference, which attracted general managers and almost all heads of department, was pioneered by the company’s new Chief Executive Officer, Keith Calder whose appointment was announced as a director of the company on July 4 2012.

Exactly five months after he took over officially in August last year, Keith, 50, a professional mining engineer and former CEO of TSX listed Western Coal Limited with 16 years at Rio Tinto working in a variety of senior roles in emerging mining jurisdictions around the world, insisted on a thorough strategic management of AML’s aspirations.

The occasion came as the first ever of such gathering that has resolved to set itself a realistic target in line with the mission, vision and values of the company, including making government and Sierra Leoneans also benefit from the resources of their country.

To that end, he said, AML has three areas of concurrent focus to transform the business from a junior developer into a mature organisation that can be successful in the medium term.

“Ensuring short term health: financial stability, complete capital projects, achieve 20 million tons per annum; building the organisation: human resources, HSES performance reporting and enhance external relationships with the communities, the government of Sierra Leone, cornerstone and institutional investors,” states one of the resolutions on transformation and moving towards operations.

The meeting also agreed that their commitment to achieving a 20mtpa run rate during May and June would prove their capacity.

“Recent months have demonstrated momentum in the production volume ramp up across the project. At the mine, processing, rail and port, overall capacity has increased as remaining projects are delivered and de-bottlenecking takes place,” the working document said.

AML also resolved that it was moving towards a “pay for performance” remuneration strategy to align senior leadership with shareholders’ interests. The system has been touted as one element of the company’s talent management strategy which would include performance appraisal, goal setting, career planning, training and development.

On 14 January 2013, Keith supervised the appointment of Stephan Weber, 51, as the Group’s Chief Operating Officer, who was chief executive officer of Anglo American Iron Ore Brazil, and prior to that a managing director with Rio Tinto. He has over 25 years of technical and management experience globally as both producer and consumer.

“With our aim of achieving the 20Mtpa sustainable production rate during the second quarter of this year, Stephan’s focus will be on de-bottlenecking and stabilising our current operations, and at the same time embarking on Tonkolili’s next expansion to 35Mtpa,” said Keith.

AML CEO Keith Calder,  making a presentation

AML CEO Keith Calder, making a presentation

About the new CEO

Between 1993 and 2009 Keith held a number of senior executive and operational positions within the Rio Tinto group, latterly as Managing Director of global copper projects. He had responsibility for approximately $24Bn of capital projects (including engineering, construction and commissioning) and led a worldwide technical team of over 400 professionals in the US, Canada, Mongolia, Indonesia and Peru.

Keith’s key operational executive management positions at Rio Tinto were at Northparkes, Palabora, Las Cruces, Neves Corvo and Comsur, and he led a mining task force to realise a step change in orebody knowledge and strategic mine planning capability across the Group.

Most recently Keith held the position of CEO at Western Coal since December 2009, prior to its $3.4Bn takeover by Walter Energy in April 2011. Whilst CEO of Western Coal he initiated a recapitalisation and expansion programme which saw production increase from 2.3Mtpa to 6.0Mtpa within one year, with further planned growth to 12Mtpa. This expansion saw the market capitalisation of Western Coal increase from $600m to $3.4Bn.

Following the meeting staff who were contacted to comment on the outcomes of the conference said they were enough to engender an opportunity for locals and expatriates and deepen their sense of commitment to building a world class iron ore company.

Some of the managers confirmed that Keith’s idea was the best way to boost morale among locals who said it was about time they gave their best in anticipation of the likely benefits and motivation.

“I was very happy that we could all come together and frankly discuss some of the issues we must address going forward. It is very fulfilling,” one of the local staff said.

Tanu Jalloh, AML PRO

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