From cutting his teeth operating Kalgoorlie's Super Pit in the 1990s to running one of the world's biggest gold producers, Mark Cutifani's ascension to the upper echelons of global mining is now complete with his appointment as Anglo American's next chief executive.
Confirmation yesterday that the well-regarded mining engineer would replace outgoing Anglo boss Cynthia Carroll in April also ended a week of speculation about the AngloGold Ashanti boss and his next career move.
Mr Cutifani could earn as much as ï¿½8.4 million ($12.9 million) a year leading Anglo, one of the world's biggest mining companies with a market value of ï¿½28.3 billion.
He joins Anglo at a critical time in the company's rich history as it tries to deal with its South African legacy, a failed iron ore strategy and a widening valuation gulf against BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Glencore-Xstrata.
"I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead Anglo American at this important stage in its journey, to unlock the company's very considerable value potential," Mr Cutifani said in a statement.
Mr Cutifani is expected to shift from Johannesburg, where he has been based since taking over from Bobby Godsell as AngloGold boss in late 2007, to London where Anglo American is one of the FTSE 100 index's stalwarts.
As part of his new role, Mr Cutifani will receive Â£2.38 million in Anglo shares to compensate for performance awards he could have received at AngloGold.
Mr Cutifani's base salary will be Â£1.2 million a year and he will be eligible for up to Â£1.05 million in short-term cash and Â£1.95 million in share awards annually, as well as Â£4.2 million under Anglo's long-term incentive plan.
"He knows the environment, the country, the politics, the business," Investec resources analyst Albert Minassian told Bloomberg.
"The biggest task of Anglo is to sort out the South African mining in general and the platinum business specifically."
Mr Cutifani spent his early career in coal in NSW before joining the Ian Burston-led KCGM team as general manager, operations. Mr Cutifani was regarded as a candidate to succeed Mr Burston as chief executive of the Super Pit management company but in 1993 returned to east coast coal.
However, he did not stay out of WA for long, moving back in 1994 as WMC's nickel head. Subsequent roles were with Normandy Mining and as managing director at the ill-fated Sons of Gwalia before joining Canada's Inco and then AngloGold.Mr Cutifani is credited with eliminating AngloGold's hedge book, rebuilding its balance sheet and approving key growth projects such as the $740 million Tropicana mine north-east of Kalgoorlie.