Anglo American to shed 85,000 jobs

Oil prices slump to seven-year low
Oil prices slump to seven-year low

Global mining giant Anglo American is getting ready to shed about 85,000 jobs as it sells off 60% of its assets over the next few years.

The company said it expects employee numbers to shrink to 50,000 from 135,000 as it overhauls its business in response to the collapse in commodity prices.

"The severity of commodity price deterioration requires bolder action," said Anglo American (AAUKF) CEO Mark Cutifani. "In this sort of environment, nothing can be considered business as usual."

Many commodities are trading at the lowest levels they've seen since the Great Recession in 2008/2009 as seemingly insatiable demand from China has slowed.

The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity index has plunged by 24% since the start of 2015. Platinum and copper prices, for example, are back at recession-era levels. Both metals are important to Anglo American.

The continued drop in commodity prices has taken a big toll on miners around the world. Anglo American reported a pre-tax loss of $1.9 billion in the first half of 2015 after sales fell by 17%.

miners anglo american
Anglo American is trying to shrink the number of people it employs by about 60% over the next few years.

Related: Oil tumbles to lowest level in 7 years

In response, the company is planning to sell off coal and copper mining operations and focus on three businesses: Diamond miner De Beers, industrial metals and bulk commodities. A spokesman for Anglo American said it would sell coal mines in South Africa and Australia, and copper mines in South America.

He declined to comment on how many jobs would be shed as a result of asset sales, and how many as a result of layoffs.

Coal demand is falling as pressure builds for big consumers such as China to switch to cleaner fuels. Environmental activists have successfully campaigned for Wall Street banks to cut financing to the coal industry.

Anglo American said Tuesday it is also suspending dividend payments for the rest of 2015, and 2016, and slashing capital expenditure and other costs.

Shares in Anglo American fell about 9% after the announcement. They have plunged 72% since the start of the year.

--CNNMoney's Jim Boulden contributed to this article.

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