This assignment requires answering the following three questions as they pertain to the attached case study. Please include the references following each specific question. There is no need for a cover sheet or a reference page. Be sure to include a minimum of three references. I have attached a copy of the Anglo American Case Study.(1) This is a case that was written as a promotional piece to specifically show Anglo American in a favorable light. Conduct a research of the company for an objective view and summarize here.(2) Evaluate how technology, product, and process developments enable a large company like Anglo American to be sustainable, or not.(3) Human rights is an important consideration in many facets of the mining industry. Assume you are part of the ethics committee for research and development. Discuss the various stakeholder groups and your concerns with each as they relate to human rights and technology in the mining industry.32184_ANGLOAMERICAN:ANGLO AMERICAN V4
New technology development
in the primary sector
Anglo American is a UK public limited company that operates on a global scale, with
mines in Africa, Europe, South America, Canada, Australia and Asia. It is one of the world’s
leading mining companies in the primary sector involved in the exploration, extraction and
processing of metals and minerals. The commodities it mines include platinum, diamonds,
copper, nickel, zinc, phosphates, iron ore, manganese and coal. Anglo American is the world’s
leader in extracting platinum and diamonds and is also a leading producer of coal.
Exploration and technology development are key competencies for Anglo American. The
company is continually looking to discover new mineral sources around the world and to
develop new technologies which will give the business competitive advantage.
Anglo American plays an important part in the world economy. Nearly 76% of its employees
live in Africa and it is also a major employer in Europe. For example, its Tarmac aggregates
and construction products business employs nearly 7,000 people in the UK. Anglo American
is dependent on being able to access a constant supply of mineral deposits. These deposits
need to be economically and efficiently extracted and this requires the business constantly to
develop new products and processes.
In a fast-changing world new technology development is crucial if organisations want to maintain
their market position. Research and development into new products and processes
helps organisations to become more efficient. It can lead to cost-cutting and the speeding up of
production times. It also helps to meet the needs of customers more closely.
This case study focuses on new product and process development. It illustrates how the
Anglo American Group’s strong capabilities through its Anglo Research and Anglo Technical
Division make new technology development possible.
New technology development
New products, processes and services are created through innovation. Anglo American
focuses its research on improving the performance of its existing processes, developing new
competitive processes and supporting the wider organisation through specialist mineralogy
and analytical services. This enables its customers to benefit from shared best practice, as
well as from the development of emerging technologies. These are new, often
specialised technologies that may be used in mainstream business applications to improve
safety, reduce energy, increase water usage efficiency, lower overall production cost, enhance
product qualities or increase a company’s ability to recover value from its activities.
• Research & Development
• Technology transfer
• Product testing
Public limited company: a
company whose shares are traded
on the London Stock Exchange.
They are denoted by the initials plc.
Primary sector: organisations
engaged in the extraction of
Technology: the application
of science and ideas to the
development of new products and
Competencies: areas of activity
in which a firm or individual is
particularly strong, e.g. research
and development, product
Competitive advantage: a
strategic element that enables an
organisation to compete more
effectively than its rivals.
Market position: consumer
perception of where a brand or
company name exists relative to
other brands and names.
Research and development:
processes that involve investigating
new ideas for products which are
taken forward to be test marketed.
Innovation: using research and
development to create new
products, processes and services.
Best practice: the development
of performance standards. These
are based upon the most efficient
practices within an organisation.
Emerging technologies: new
technologies that are currently
As organisations develop, they are constantly looking for new ways of doing things and of
meeting customer needs in a better way. There are many different sources of ideas for new
products and processes.
Sources of new ideas
32184_ANGLOAMERICAN:ANGLO AMERICAN V4
Technology transfer: the process
of transferring research into the
Before a new product or process is launched, it has to go through a series of phases of
development. These phases may take place over a number of years:
• The development starts with a well-defined problem that the business needs to solve.
• Once a new idea to address the problem has been identified, the next stage is to produce
a structured development plan.
• The development plan will identify what business need the new product will fill.
• The plan will also identify many of the features and benefits the innovation will deliver.
• It also involves estimating the costs of testing an idea, which sometimes means that
alternative solutions have to be evaluated and compared for cost-effectiveness.
Anglo American uses a ‘roadmap’ to show the stages from problem to implementation. This
helps to assess at regular intervals whether the idea helps to solve the problem. The red
arrows on the diagram indicate specific milestones when the technology under development
is reviewed. At these points, a decision is made whether to progress to the next stage or not.
If, for example, the technology does not meet expectation or is too expensive, then the plan
may have to change or stop altogether.
Undertaking research requires considerable expertise. Anglo American has its own research
division called Anglo Research. Anglo Research aims to spread and apply best practice in
existing technologies across the Group and to identify emerging technologies. It engages in
technology transfer across the whole organisation to make sure all parts of Anglo American
use the best technologies in the best way. Anglo Research pioneers new technologies in order to
improve the performance of Anglo American as a whole.
Best practice learnings
Anglo Technical, a sister organisation of Anglo Research specialising in various engineering
fields, also develops new products and processes. One important field involves geoscientists,
electronic engineers and various specialist consultants working together. They aim to enable
Anglo American to develop innovative methods of exploration, such as in the use of magnetic
sensors. These sensors help to minimise the impact of Anglo American’s activities on the
environment. For example, by conducting initial exploration from the air, testing on the
ground is reduced. At the same time, the work of these teams ensures that Anglo American
can mine and develop the supply of raw materials that it needs.
32184_ANGLOAMERICAN:ANGLO AMERICAN V4
Research and development
Research is the first stage in new technology development. Research starts with a problem and
gathers, records and tests data to find a solution. Development involves working out the
details of the solution, such as what materials for construction are needed or if the new
process will integrate with existing systems. Anglo Research uses its expertise to develop ideas
and identify solutions to technical problems and issues. For example, some new mineral and
metal deposits are difficult to mine economically in traditional ways and need a new
approach. Once Anglo Research has provided the results from the research to guide the new
process development, Anglo Technical provides the specialised engineering and technical
skills necessary to carry out the development of the process.
Anglo Research and Anglo Technical have five broad roles that support the best application
of existing technology and the development of new technologies:
1. Providing support in safety and sustainable development, for example, developing a collision
avoidance tool. This warns drivers about vehicles which are outside their field of vision.
2. Reviewing the activities of the organisation to ensure that appropriate technologies are
used in existing and new operations, such as in improving energy efficiency in the
mechanical processing of ore.
3. Collaborating across the Group to implement new technologies that improve efficiency.
Anglo American experts from countries across the globe come together to share latest
developments in extracting metal from ore.
4. Identifying best practice and transferring this across the organisation through the setting up
of common standards across the company.
5. Supporting technical human resources across the business. Talented people at Anglo American
have the opportunity of a career across the whole Group and are not limited by geography or
the organisational structure.
Ore: a type of rock that contains
minerals such as gemstones and
metals that can be extracted
through mining and refined for
Computer modelling: using a
computer to develop a model of a
process or product. Mathematical
modelling can also be used for
testing a new product or process.
Prototype: a working model of a
process or product.
development which meets present
needs without compromising the
ability of future generations to
achieve their own needs and
Return on investment: the
return on the funds invested in the
In extracting minerals there are many challenges. Much of the world’s surface has already been
explored. This means that it has become more difficult to find mineral and metal deposits.
Anglo American employs more sophisticated techniques to find hidden minerals. For example, it
uses aircraft, helicopters and satellites to map geological structures and identify subtle patterns in
surface rock, the earth’s magnetic field and variations in the gravity field. Anglo American can
then use this information for targeting sites that might have the potential for mineral deposits.
Anglo American undertakes two types of exploration:
• Brownfield exploration takes place around or near to existing mines. It involves the
discovery of resources close to existing operations.
• Greenfield exploration focuses on identifying new or previously undiscovered mineral
deposits. Around 60-70% of reserves come from Anglo American’s Greenfield activities.
From testing to launch
New processes need to be developed and tested before being implemented at full scale.
Computer modelling may be used for testing a new idea with little cost before production
starts. As part of the new product development, it may be necessary to create samples,
prototypes or working models for testing. At Anglo American, a new process idea is first tested
at ‘beaker scale’. This means very small scale, almost like in a laboratory. Then a small pilot
plant is set up. The product or process implementation is the final stage. By developing new
technologies and transferring them to all areas of the Group, Anglo American is able to share
ideas to maintain its global strength. Sustainable development is particularly important to
Anglo American. A focus on sustainable development means the company sources minerals for
present needs without harming the ability of future generations to access similar resources.
Anglo American’s research and development capability is vital to the business. Its ability to
develop new products and processes keeps the Group at the forefront of technological
developments. For example, in the field of metal extraction from ore the Group has developed
a new process to handle lateritic nickel ores. This type of ore occurs on the surface of the earth
and has weathered extensively. This means that it requires a lot of effort to extract the metal,
involving a great quantity of chemicals and/or energy. It contains the richest sources of nickel
but existing commercial processes to extract it are expensive and do not generate a healthy
return on investment. The new process being developed by Anglo Research aims to
minimise use of these chemicals and reduce the energy needed for the process. It has been
designed to help Anglo American to use the difficult nickel ores that contain the bulk of the
world’s available nickel metal more economically.
32184_ANGLOAMERICAN:ANGLO AMERICAN V4
responsibility: the responsibility
of an organisation to a range of
stakeholders. These include the
community and society at large.
Development of a nickel extraction process
1. Idea generation
Stems from a need for more economical extraction processes for
treating nickel laterite ores.
2. Project plan
Identifies the features and benefits required of the process and
considers the likely costs involved with its development.
Anglo Research uses its expertise to identify how emerging
technologies could be used or combined to solve this problem.
4. Process development
Engineering companies and Anglo Technical Division provide the
specialist technology skills to support the financial evaluation and
engineering design of a full scale plant.
5. Pilot testing
Testing is carried out for functionality, safety and efficiency. A small
process plant is designed and built and is run for several months to
improve understanding of the new process.
The process is tested at almost industrial scale and a suitable location
for the plant is chosen, before full scale implementation starts.
Influences on process development
A number of factors affect the research and development process. Cost is perhaps the most
influential factor. Research does not come cheaply; introducing new technologies is expensive.
Investment may be needed for a long time before introduction. It is important that there is a
return on investment from the new products or processes once they are launched in order to
justify the expenditure on research and development.
The Times Newspaper Limited and ©MBA Publishing Ltd 2009. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy
of information, neither the publisher nor the client can be held responsible for errors of omission or commission.
Changing technologies are another influence upon product or process development. They
provide Anglo American with a different way of meeting the needs of its customers. Changing
technologies also have a long-term influence upon planning. Such developments may lead to
new processes and the sharing of technologies through technology transfer across the Group.
For example, the design and development of a new electro-hydraulic rig has reduced the time
needed to drill mine shafts. New developments in conserving and recycling water have made
it possible for Anglo American to mine in arid regions of Africa and Australia.
It is also important that primary sector organisations develop their businesses responsibly.
Anglo American’s business depends on it extracting raw materials from the earth.
Anglo American takes a clear and positive approach to corporate social responsibility.
Sustainable development is built into all its policies, strategies and business practices. For
example, the company has developed a Socio Economic Assessment Toolbox. This set of
procedures, advice and rules helps to ensure a responsible approach to operating in
communities. Every decision is assessed for its economic, social and environmental impacts.
This ensures that natural resources will continue to be available for future generations.
Anglo American is not the only mining company in the world. To compete, it depends on being
able to access a constant supply of mineral deposits. These resources must be extracted in a cost
effective way. In order to remain competitive it also has to take into account the actions of its
competitors. In order to keep its market position, Anglo American constantly seeks to develop
new products and processes. These rely on ideas, research, improved or alternative use of
existing technologies, as well as the introduction of new technologies. Anglo American has
sustained its position as market leader in many markets through its capabilities in research and
1. Describe what is meant by the primary sector. Give two examples of businesses in the
2. Explain the difference between the processes of research and development.
3. What is the relationship between the need for emerging technologies and the process of
4. Evaluate how product and process developments enable a large company like
Anglo American to sustain its market position.
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