Swiss-based mining-giant Glencore controls 60% of the world’s zinc, half the world’s copper, 38% of aluminium and 9% of the global grain market. In 2011 it won the dubious award of the world's "most opaque mining company", courtesy of Publish What You Pay Norway (PWYP).
In addition to its own operations, Glencore holds interests in several other major mining companies, including 34.4% in Xstrata, 44% economic (39% voting) in Century Aluminum, 73.4% in Minara Resources, 74.8% in Katanga Mining, 8.8% in UCR, 51.5% in Chemoil Energy and 32.2% in Recylex. Glencore holds a market capitalization of $33bn and was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in May 2011.
The world's most opaque mining company
Piping Profits, published by Publish What You Pay Norway in 2011, showed that Glencore was the world's "most opaque mining company." Though the corporation controls relatively few subsidiaries compared to others in the sector - 46 compared to Rio Tinto's 926 - 46% of its subsidiary companies are incorporated in 'secrecy jurisdictions' such as the US state of Delaware, the Netherlands or Bermuda. Secrecy jurisdictions are defined as: "places where among many other advantages for companies requiring secrecy, company accounts and beneficial ownership details are not publicly available."
As PWYP state: "This is relevant given that Glencore’s 2010 financial statement confirms that its effective tax rate for its $234m tax bill, ‘was 9.3% compared to 12.6% for 2009’ on revenues of $144.9 billion." Glencore's net profit in 2010 was $4.1bn. The Guardian reports that Glencore 'paid only $2m in tax [in 2010] on European revenues of more than $1bn.'
Tax avoidance in Zambia
In April 2011 a complaint was made to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regarding Glencore's payment of taxes in Zambia. Glencore's 73% owned subsidiary, Mopani Copper Mines, is accused of publishing "unexplainable" increases in costs in order to negate tens of millions of dollars in taxes to the Zambian state.
Over Two Fatalities Every Month
Glencore's 2011 corporate sustainability report announced that its operations incurred over 56 fatalities between 2008 and 2010. In an interview, Glencore's head of corporate sustainability Michael Fahrbach admitted, 'The majority occurred in Africa and a significant proportion in South America and Asia. Most of them occurred underground.' When questioned over its procedure for compensating the families of the deceased, Glencore's chairman of its board's health, safety, environment committee Peter Coates, responded, 'It's not something that [the board] have addressed to date.'
"Significant" Environmental Fines
Glencore announced that it paid approximately US$780,000 in 'significant' environmental fines in 2010 alone, where 'significant' entails any fine over US$10,000. These entailed 'infringements' on protected lands and issues relating to emissions, water discharge and tailing disposals.
- Glencore International AG
- Baarermattstrasse 3
- CH-6340 Baar
Glencore UK address:
- 50 Berkeley Street
- W1J 8HD
Telephone: +41 41 709 2000 Fax: +41 41 709 3000
- Saving Iceland's special report by Dónal O’Driscoll From Siberia to Iceland: Century Aluminum, Glencore and the Incestuous World of Mining looks at the web of influence and the shady history of Glencore.
- Nick Mathiason, '', Publish What You Pay Norway, 19 September 2011, accessed 30 September 2011
- 'Glencore Fact Sheet', accessed 30 September 2011
- Leo Hickman and Fiona Harvey, 'Glencore reveals record of fatalities and environmental fines', The Guardian, 7 September 2011, accessed 20 October 2011
- Liz Ford 'Mining firm under fire over tax payments in Zambia', The Guardian, 15 April 2011, accessed 20 October 2011
- Leo Hickman, 'Glencore on its safety record, environmental performance and tax', The Guardian, 7 September 2011, accessed 20 October 2011
- Glencore Sustainability Report 2010