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Anglo American output dampened by strikes in Q4

Strikes held back production of platinum and iron ore at Anglo American in the fourth quarter of 2012, though most other commodity classes delivered 'solid' increases in output.

Strikes held back production of platinum and iron ore at Anglo American in the fourth quarter of 2012, though most other commodity classes delivered 'solid' increases in output.

Iron ore output through its Kumba operations in South Africa dropped by 19% year-on-year in the three months to December 31st due to illegal industrial action at the Sishen mine, which resulted in around five million tonnes of production being lost. This was partly offset by better-than-expected production at the Kolomela project. Meanwhile, manganese ore production increased by 17% year-on-year in the fourth quarter.

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Together, the iron ore and manganese division accounted for nearly half of Anglo's operating profit in the first half.

Meanwhile, the firm's platinum division (Anglo American Platinum, or Amplats) in South Africa was hit be strikes at its Rustenberg, Amandelbult and Union mines, causing production to decline by 29%.

Amplats announced last week that it would undergo a massive restructuring programme, which would include the closure and sale of several assets and the loss of up to 14,000 jobs. This unsurprisingly drew the harsh criticism from politicians and labour unions.

Anglo also said on Friday that nickel production decreased by 25%, though this was largely due to the expiry of Loma de Niquel mining concessions in Venezuela in November.

"Solid increases"Elsewhere, Anglo said that copper production, which accounted for a fourth of operating profit in the first half, increased by 2% over the year before, as a 31% increase at Los Bronces was offset by a 36% fall at Collahuasi.

Metallurgical coal production rose by 13% during the period, while thermal coal in South Africa increased by 5%. Diamond output rose 24%.

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