World class assets
We have a diverse portfolio of high-quality assets that we invest in to secure long-term value delivery throughout the commodity cycle. Our long-life, low-cost assets have benefited from a significant investment programme over the last few years, with capital expenditure this year reduced to US$1 billion in line with subdued market conditions. This will maintain our competitive position in Tier one of the global cost curve for Zinc, Iron Ore and Oil & Gas and help move Aluminium and Copper into lower quartiles in the near term.
A skilled workforce
Key to our operational excellence is our 82,000 strong workforce, which includes over 11,000 skilled professionals such as geologists, mining engineers, technicians and commercial managers. We provided 756,643 hours in health & safety training, to ensure we develop and protect our people. We attract and retain the talent we need through high quality programmes such as the STAR programme that aims to develop 800+ high potential employees; the Mining Academy set up at Rajasthan to develop an employee pool with enhanced underground mining skills and Technical Act Up, a structured programme to develop technically proficient employees.
Technology and innovation
We encourage a culture of innovation both internally and through collaboration with external networks to drive productivity and maintain our competitive position. We test out new ideas in our R&D laboratory and invest in pilot scale studies, followed by feasibility studies for commercial viability.
We have a strong financial profile with cash and liquid investments of US$8.2 billion and a diversified, balanced debt portfolio with a net debt of US$8.5 billion. We are delivering positive free cash flow and continue to deleverage our balance sheet.
Licence to operate
Our investment in sustainability is key to our protecting and preserving our licence to operate. We promote a culture of transparency and integrity, focusing on protecting the health and safety of our employees, minimising our impact on the environment and investing in our local communities.
The Indian Government is focused on easing the bureaucracy in doing business to attract new investments in infrastructure and to accelerate growth.
Vedanta is working to get easier access to raw materials (e.g. coal and bauxite) where the new Mining and Mineral Regulation will provide for auctions of natural resources. Coal block auctions already conducted during the year were a step towards addressing the country wide coal issue.
The Government is prioritising energy security and is taking steps in that direction including evaluation of revenue sharing models and uniform licensing policy for hydrocarbon reserves. Cairn India is currently working with the Government on the extension of the Profit Sharing Contract (PSC) in Rajasthan.
Relationships with State Governments are equally important and we continue to work with the Governments of the states where we operate.
As a major employer in Zambia and Southern Africa, with nearly 16,000 employees and contractors, Vedanta is committed to working with the local Governments.
In addition to investing in training and development for its 82,000 employees, opportunities for employee engagement exist at every level within the Company. Over 2,000 employees have attended the Chairman’s workshop in the last five years, the CEO visits sites around the Company on a regular basis and there are forums to cover local issues including welfare, gender diversity, sustainability and safety.
Customers and suppliers
Vedanta has strong relationships with its customers and suppliers and also contributes to the industry by participating in industry bodies. Vedanta aims to set high standards for contractual integrity and quality of product. Supply chain management is treated as a critical skill, underpinned by investment in IT and integrated systems.
Key to our license to operate is our relationship with the communities where we operate. We work with local community groups and village councils to discuss any grievances, for example in relation to land and resettlement issues. Our community programmes benefit over 4.1 million people in India and Africa and we invested US$43.0 million this year on these community initiatives including building and supporting schools, hospitals and on environmental projects to improve bio-diversity around our assets.
The Company actively engages with shareholders to listen to their views with the Executive members of the Board undertaking an ongoing schedule of meetings with institutional investors, analysts and brokers.
Over the last 11 years, Vedanta has returned US$1.6 billion to shareholders, an average return of 8% per annum.
Dividends have been paid out every year, across the commodity cycle, increasing progressively from 17.0 US cents per share 11 years ago to 63.0 US cents per share this year.
Vedanta has a balanced debt portfolio, with a diversified range of funding sources and a balanced maturity profile. It maintains close communications with its lenders, through meetings, presentations and ongoing communication throughout the year.