Zambia: Glencore copper mine impacts local community due to pollution; including past company responses

An Environmental Justice Atlas case study alleges that Glencore's Mopani copper mine in Zambia has caused air, water and soil pollution impacting the health and livelihoods of local communities. While the case study alleges that the mine produces copper and cobalt, Glencore representatives highlight that Mopani only produces copper.

This story includes past responses from Glencore regarding allegations that also feature in the case study.

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17 March 2020

PPT case: Glencore copper and cobalt mining, Zambia

Author: Environmental Justice Atlas

Sulphur dioxide emissions, acid rains, and smuggling profits out of Zambia without paying taxes and bringing profits to a tax haven, Switzerland: the Zambian receipee of Glencore's profits

...Summary of the conflict The main activity of Glencore in Zambia is the mining of copper and cobalt, which is carried out through the subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines mainly on the Copperbelt province in the areas of Mufulira and Kitwe. The environmental effects of mining activities specific to the Mufulira Kanyono site are mainly air, water and land/soil pollution, mainly due to sulphur dioxide emission above WHO minimums in the construction of the extraction plants, and causing permanent damage to livelihoods and cultivations. The pollution forms acid rain and endangers plant life. Furthermore, Mopani Copper Mines smuggles its profits out of Zambia without paying taxes and bringing profits to a tax haven, Switzerland, according to a leaked Financial Audit Report carried out by tax specialists Grant Thornton and Econ Poyry, analysing the balances of the company and mine activities from 2003 to 2008...

Company response
20 October 2015

Response re ActionAid report on impacts on women in Zambia

Author: Michael Fahrbach, Global Head of Sustainability, Glencore

Today, more than 10,000 people work at Mopani. Mining is the highest paying industry in Zambia... 

Contributing to local development... 

Engaging with local an essential aspect of Mopani’s commitment to good corporate citizenship. Mopani has monthly meetings with the Kankoyo Community Organisation, a body that represents the interest of the Kankoyo community... Mopani maintains complaints registers in the community...[All complaints] are reviewed by management and relevant investigations are undertaken... 

Health: Mopani has invested in local health initiatives for many years and currently operates two hospitals and seven clinics...

Education: Mopani has supported local education and skills development initiatives for a number of years. The company runs four schools in the communities in which we operate...

Improving local air quality: ...Completion of the work [on a multi-year smelter upgrade] means that we now capture over 95% of Mopani’s SO2 emissions, contrasting significantly with the situation when we took over this asset in 2000...

[also addresses local procurement, investing in infrastructure]

Download the full document here

Company response
25 September 2012

Glencore response to “Zambia: Good Copper, Bad Copper” film

Author: Glencore

...Glencore provided [evidence] to the UK Government's International Development Select Committee hearing in April this year [re operations in Zambia -- link provided]...Glencore has been a major investor and employer in Zambia for over 12 years...Our evidence provides an excellent overview of our operations in Zambia, especially the work we do across the surrounding communities - health, education, building of vital infrastructure...[Further] the taxes, royalties and other dues to the Government have always been calculated and paid in the proper manner in line with the applicable legislation.

Read the full post here