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Anglo writes down $1.9 billion amid mining turmoil

Anglo writes down $1.9 billion amid mining turmoil

Global miner Anglo American posted a second consecutive annual net loss after the group wrote down $1.9 billion from the value of its platinum division and projects in South America.

The group posted a 6 percent rise in underlying operating profit for 2013 to $6.6 billion, ahead of analyst forecasts of $5.6 billion found in a Reuters poll. The company's own forecast was for $6.3 billion. Investors appeared pleased with the results, sending the stock higher in morning trade in London.

Chief executive Mark Cutifani told CNBC the group was looking at more mechanized mining solutions in platinum as a way of dealing with cost pressures, as industrial action remains a serious concern.

Union leaders in South African mines initiated a wage strike at the world's three top platinum producers -- Anglo American, Impala Platinum and Lonmin -- earlier this year. Mining companies have said they cannot afford the increases employees are demanding, due to increasing production costs and stagnated demand. The discussions are ongoing.

"I think costs are certainly rising in platinum, but if you look across the portfolio we have seen a two percent decrease in costs on a real basis, so we are making good ground on our cost," he said.

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"In platinum we have to keep working on our restructuring and reconfiguration which means you are going to see more platinum from our open pits and mechanized underground operations and that is the most important way we can deal with those cost pressures," he added.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg via Getty Images

The producer said the spending costs of large Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil, which has disappointed investors with multi-billion cost overruns and delays, remains unchanged from its latest estimate at $8.8 billion.

Cutifani said he expects iron prices to suffer this year due to over supply issues, but added the large Minas Rio project was on track to deliver iron ore by the end of the year.

"I would expect iron ore prices to suffer during the course of the year. In the case of Minas Rio, we are about 80 percent down the tracks, so a bit hard to pull back that capital expenditure. We will complete phase 1, which will bring 26.5 million tons which on a global basis is a fairly modest sum," he said.

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"We are certainly not looking at a phase two to double up on production," he added.

Cutifani, however, sees opportunity in copper which he said is undersupplied on a 5 - 10 year basis. Phosphate has delivered 30 percent returns for the group.

Diamonds have also been a strong performer in the Anglo's portfolio, as profits from its De Beers diamonds subsidiary doubled to $1 billion.

"From our point of view, we have been thrilled with the performance. De Beers fits very well in the portfolio, and is very well positioned," he said.

By CNBC's Jenny Cosgrave: Follow her on Twitter @jenny_cosgrave