Anglo American chief executive Cynthia Carroll issued a disappointing final set of results yesterday, announcing a swing into the red as a result of rising costs, falling prices and a charge relating to the miner's beleaguered Minas Rio project.
But Ms Carroll gave a defiant performance despite reporting a $1.49bn (£962m) loss that stemmed from her much-criticised investment in the Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil.
Despite forcing Anglo American to take a $4bn charge in October – which prompted her resignation and plunged the miner into the red for 2012 – Ms Carroll insisted that she stood by the Minas Rio investment, while taking a swipe at the competition.
"We did not go after a huge acquisition, or an enormous company. We did not have attempted acquisitions and then failed acquisitions, like some of our competitors. What we did do, and this was the mandate I was given when I arrived, was to pursue iron ore," she said.
Rival mining firm BHP Billiton has twice failed to complete major acquisitions in recent years, while Rio Tinto recently had to take $14bn of writedowns on its acquisition of the Alcan aluminium business and a coal operation in Mozambique. Ms Carroll insisted that Minas Rio had a promising future.
"Minas Rio is a resource that has increased fourfold since we have gone into it, and it is going to be bigger," she said. "The quality of this resource is phenomenal... The strategy for attractiveness is without question."
Stripping out one-off costs, Anglo's operating profit fell 44 per cent to $6.2bn, hit by rising costs and falling commodity prices.