Anglo American PLC on Friday said its Chief Executive, Cynthia Carroll, has decided to step down with the board of directors' agreement, but will remain in her post until a successor has been appointed.
Ms. Carroll, who is the only female CEO of a major global mining company, will leave after nearly seven years in the position, having faced recent criticism from shareholders and analysts over the company's underperformance compared with its peers. She has also suffered flak for the escalating costs of the Minas Rio iron ore project in Brazil.
However, Ms. Carroll also led the company to record profits in 2011 and oversaw three major projects that have enabled it to enter the current commodities-price downturn in a strong position. Safety at the company's platinum operations improved on her watch and she orchestrated Anglo American's acquisition of majority control of the world's largest rough diamond producer, De Beers, for $5.1 billion this year.
"It is a very difficult decision to leave, but next year I will be entering my seventh year as chief executive and I feel that the time will be right to hand over to a successor who can build further on the strong foundations we have created," Ms. Carroll said in a statement.
"I am extremely proud of everything we have achieved during my period as chief executive and I will always retain enormous admiration and affection for this great company and its outstanding people."
Anglo American's Chairman, Sir John Parker, said: "Cynthia's leadership has had a transformational impact on Anglo American. [She] created a strong and unified culture and a streamlined organization with a focus on operational performance."
Ms. Carroll is the latest female CEO to step down from a major European-listed company.