Updated April 2021
The Swiss mining giant Glencore plc., formerly known as Marc Rich & Co., describes itself as a vertically-integrated natural resource company, meaning that it is involved at every stage of the supply chain of its products, from extraction and processing through to marketing and trading. Its sprawling operations include metals – particularly copper, nickel and cobalt – as well as coal, oil, gas, and agricultural products. It has operations in over 35 countries that it manages through a network of subsidiaries, and is one of the world’s largest mining companies, valued at $42.46 billion at the end of 2020. Glencore has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since 2011.
Glencore has always taken pains to shroud its operations in secrecy, and for good reason: the details that have been painstakingly brought to light by community activists and environmental justice campaigners paint a damning picture. From the bribery scandals in the DRC, the murder of anti-mining activists in the Philippines, the poisoning of water supplies in Peru, and the abuse of workers in its mines the world over, we can see that whilst Glencore’s operations might be diverse, the common thread that ties them together is an exploitative business model based on crossing ethical lines in the pursuit of ever greater profits. Below is a brief overview of Glencore’s history and the stories of those who have struggled against it. For a more detailed account, see our alternative corporate timeline.
Glencore – a brief history
Glencore began in 1974, when founder Marc Rich resigned from his position at the commodity traders Philipp Brothers to form Marc Rich and Co. The firm evaded international sanctions to make lucrative trades with pariah states, particularly apartheid-era South Africa, with whom Rich made his “most important and most profitable” deals ever. This came at a cost. In 1983 Rich was charged with criminal fraud, wire fraud, racketeering, and tax evasion, and fled the US for Switzerland.
Initially, the company was purely a commodities trader, particularly crude oil, metals, and agricultural products. In 1987, however, Marc Rich and Co. started to acquire firms that were involved in extraction and production, beginning with a U.S aluminium smelter and then a Peruvian lead and zinc mine. These acquisitions continued apace as Marc Rich and Co. expanded. Of particular note is the purchase of Mopani, a Zambian copper mine, in 2000, and purchase of a stake in Prodeco – a Colombian coal mine – in 1995.
The 1990s and 2000s were a time of internal turmoil at the company. Marc Rich was forced out by the management board in 1993, and the firm promptly changed its name to ‘Glencore’ to bury any lingering association with its controversial founder. It underwent a public listing on the London Stock Exchange in 2011, marking a dramatic departure in strategy, but continued to expand aggressively. In 2013, merger talks with longtime business partner and subsidiary Xstrata went sour after more than a year of negotiations, and morphed into a hostile takeover. Glencore traded under the new name of Glencore Xstrata for a while, and continued to consolidate its position as a top mining giant. The company reached the position it is in today off the back of violent suppression of anti-mining organising, polluting of vital water supplies, and participation in state-level bribery and corruption. Communities around the world are struggling against Glencore and its deadly operations: here are some of their stories.
Funding violence against anti-mining activists
In the Philippines and Colombia, there are credible allegations that Glencore and its subsidiaries have funded the violent repression of social movements who oppose its mining projects. In the Philippines for example, Sagittarius Mines Inc – which at the time was majority owned by Xsrata – bought the rights to develop a copper-gold mine within the land of the B’laan, one of the indigenous community of Southern Mindanao. The B’laan organised against the occupation of their land and in response, Xstrata are alleged to have created and bankrolled a secret paramilitary unit that terrorised the community, murdering tribal leaders and their families for opposing the mine. Similar allegations have been levelled against the Colombian mining group Prodeco, which is wholly owned by Glencore. Former Prodeco staff and paramilitary commanders have attested that Prodeco funded and collaborated with paramilitary death squads that assassinated those who lay in the path of the mine’s expansion.
In Peru, in response to a strike called by mineworkers, an Xstrata director asked the police to take “direct, proactive and strong approach” against striking workers, who he described as “sons of whores.” The police brutally attacked the miners, and have been accused of killing two and torturing many more. Xstrata allegedly equipped riot police with rubber bullets and tear gas, and stationed them in barracks in their mine.
Poisoning vital water supplies
Glencore’s mines have had devastating impacts on their surrounding environments, with deadly consequences for those who live nearby. Entire rivers have been diverted to fuel Glencore’s mines, even in areas where water is scarce, and the remaining water supply is often so contaminated with lead and other heavy metals that it is unfit to support life.
In Cerro de Pasco, Peru, for example, waste from Glencore’s Volcan mine has left rivers contaminated with 160 times the maximum permissible level of lead. 78% of children in the city show symptoms of heavy metal poisoning. At Glencore’s Mopani mine, in the DRC, a malfunctioning pump discharged so much sulfuric acid into the water supply of neighbouring villages that over 1,000 residents were treated with severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pains. Communities surrounding the Cerrejón mine, in northern Colombia, are currently fighting against a similar fate, and are campaigning for the reinstatement of the vital Arroyo Bruno river that has been diverted to supply the mine.
Glencore holds the dubious honour of being the first mining company to be charged with environmental contamination by a Latin American court. Xstrata vice-president Julian Rooney was charged in 2008 for environmental crimes relating to water contamination at the Alumbrera mine, Peru, and has had his assets seized whilst he awaits trial.
Bribery and corruption
The Paradise Papers leak, in 2017, shone a light onto some of the darkest secrets of mining giants, bringing to public attention the very things they had tried their hardest to keep hidden. Glencore was deeply implicated in this; the leaked documents confirmed Global Witness’s allegations that Glencore was involved in bribery and corruption in the DRC.
In 2008, Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining was worried about the growing desire of the DRC state to retain some of the wealth from its mineral resources. Talks between Katanga and state-owned mining company Gécamines had stalled. So, Glencore co-directors and the chief officers of Katanga met with the disgraced diamond magnate Dan Gertler, and paid him $45m to shut down Gécamines’ demands and secure a favourable contract for Glencore. Gertler delivered, and Glencore’s payment reduced by three quarters, ending up at well below market rate. Gertler was extremely close to powerful members of the administration at the time, and had been criticised by the UN for an arms deal he made with the Congolese army during the brutal civil war.
The legal ramifications from these deals is still ongoing. The Ontario Securities Commission – the regulator for the Toronto Stock Exchange – fined Katanga CAD$30m in 2018, and forced board members to step down, including the head of Glencore’s copper operations, Aristotelis Mistakidis. The U.S Department of Justice has since launched its own corruption probe, the UK Serious Fraud Office is currently carrying out a bribery investigation, and the Swiss Attorney General has launched a criminal investigation.
For more detail on those events and the ruinous history of Glencore’s operations, see the timeline below. You can download a PDF of the timeline here.
1926 – Südelektra founded
The Swiss company Südelektra AG, which would later become Xstrata, is founded in 1926. They work on infrastructure and energy projects across Latin America.1
1 “Xstrata at a Glance” (accessed via Internet Archive), Xstrata, https://web.archive.org/web/20090930074126/https://www.xstrata.com/corporate/group/history
1974 – Marc Rich + Co. founded
In 1974, commodities trader Marc Rich sets up Marc Rich + Co. AG, an oil trading company that would eventually become Glencore. By trading with controversial regimes such as apartheid-era South Africa and Pinochet-era Chile amongst others, often in breach of international sanctions, Marc Rich + Co. grows quickly and makes a fortune for its founder doing so.1
1 Walton Pantland for Industriall, “SPECIAL REPORT: Glencore, the commodities giant with no soul,” April 25, 2018, https://www.industriall-union.org/special-report-glencore-the-commodities-giant-with-no-soul
1983 – Marc Rich charged with tax evasion and racketeering
“The biggest tax evasion case in US history” is levelled at Marc Rich in 1983, containing charges of criminal fraud, wire fraud, racketeering, and flouting a ban on trading with Iran during the 1979-81 hostage crisis. The charges carry with them a potential sentence of 300 years. Rich flees the US for Switzerland, and is put on the FBI top-10 most wanted list.1
1 Jim Armitage, “Marc Rich: A buccaneer in a piratical world,” June 27, 2013, The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/marc-rich-buccaneer-piratical-world-8675823.html
1990 – Marc Rich + Co. become shareholders in Südelektra
In 1990, Marc Rich + Co. buy a 34.5% stake in Südelektra, becoming the largest shareholder.1 This marks the start of a long relationship between Glencore and Xstrata that later culminates in a takeover. As separate entities for now, the two groups nonetheless maintain close ties and later end up sharing a chairman and selling assets to one another when cash is needed.2
1 Alessio Maria Matteocci, “Glencore PLC: Decoding a Black Box” (MSc. diss., Luiss Guido Carli 2017), https://tesi.luiss.it/18832/
2 Rebecca Bream, “Xstrata raises investor hackles over asset sale,” Financial Times, January 29, 2009, https://www.ft.com/content/54eb57ba-ee3a-11dd-b791-0000779fd2ac
1993 – Marc Rich goes, Glencore is born
A series of disastrous zinc trades by Marc Rich nearly bankrupts his company, and so he is eventually pushed out in 1993, with his controlling stake bought back by management. Seeking to distance themselves from Rich, the new management rename the company Glencore.1 The modern Glencore era has begun.
1 Oliver Williams, “NS business profile: Marc Rich, Glencore’s fugitive founder,” New Statesman, October 10, 2012, https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2012/10/ns-business-profile-marc-rich-glencores-fugitive-founder
1995 – Glencore acquires coal mines in Colombia
In 1995, Glencore acquires Prodeco, a Colombian coal-mining group that owns the Calenturitas concession in the Cesar region of northern Colombia. Production begins in 2004, and is significantly expanded by the acquisition and integration of the nearby La Jagua mine.1 The residents of La Jagua see very little of the coal riches, and so in 2007 protest against the mine, the suspension of public works, the mistreatment of workers, and the lack of social investment.2
As is typical for a Glencore operation, mining at Calenturitas was marked by violence and repression – there are wide ranging allegations, documented by PAX, that Glencore Prodeco was complicit in the violence of paramilitary death squads that ravaged Cesar [see 2014 for more].3
1 “Our History”, Groupo Prodeco, http://www.grupoprodeco.com.co/en/who-we-are/our-history/
2 Observatorio de Conflictos Ambientales, “Graves disturbios en La Jagua de Ibirico,” https://conflictos-ambientales.net/oca_bd/actions/view/622
3 Marianne Moor and Joris van de Sandt for PAX, “The Dark Side of Coal: Paramilitary Violence in the Mining Region of Cesar, Colombia,”, June 2014, https://www.paxforpeace.nl/publications/all-publications/the-dark-side-of-coal
1999 – Xstrata is born
In 1999 Südelektra AG is renamed Xstrata. With the new name comes new management, and a new aggressive strategy: a shift towards mining, particularly base metals and coals, through the rapid acquisition of mining assets. Xstrata is listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2002, and continues to grow into one of the world’s largest mining giants.1
1 Alessio Maria Matteocci, “Glencore PLC: Decoding a Black Box” (MSc. diss., Luiss Guido Carli 2017), https://tesi.luiss.it/18832/
2000 – Glencore, BHP, and AngloAmerican work together at Cerrejón in Colombia, forcibly evicting local communities
In November 2000, a consortium representing Glencore, BHP and AngloAmerican buys a 50% stake in the Cerrejón mine, a coal mine in La Guajira, northern Colombia.1 The consortium, which would go on to take full control of the project in 2002, undertakes multiple large expansion projects. These violent expansions into the lands of the indigenous Wayúu communities and those of African descent in La Guajira are devastating. Entire communities are forcibly evicted to make way for the mine, rivers that provide drinking water are diverted, and those that are left are contaminated with toxic heavy metals leaching out from the mine.2 For more, see the BHP profile page.
1 Christian Aid, Undermining Human Rights: Ireland, the ESB and Cerrejón coal, February 2020, pg. 19-22, available frm https://www.christianaid.ie/resources/undermining-human-rights-ireland-esb-and-cerrejon-coal
2 Ibid, p. 10
2000 – Glencore acquires Mopani – toxic fumes poison locals
In 2000, Glencore acquires the Mopani copper mine from the Zambian state in an extraordinary deal that prevents the government holding Mopani to environmental laws for 15 years after the sale.1
In 2008, a malfunctioning pump at Mopani discharges so much acid into local water supplies that 13 people are hospitalised,2 and over 1,000 are recorded by local clinics as experiencing severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pains.3 In 2012, the Zambian Environment Agency suspends operations because of dangerously high sulphur dioxide emissions, and demands action.4 A year later, local politician Beatrice Mithi dies inhaling toxic fumes at church, for which a Zambian high court later finds Mopani responsible, ordering a £30,000 payment to her widower.5 Glencore later go on to sell Mopani back to the Zambian state for USD$1.5bn.6
1 The Government of the Republic of Zambia and Mopani Copper Mines PLC, “Mufulira Mine Development Agreement,” March 31, 2000, pg. 35 Section 12.3, available here https://www.resourcecontracts.org/contract/ocds-591adf-0639959550/view#/
2 “Zambia in water pollution scare”, BBC News, January 3, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7170295.stm
3 “Impacts of copper mining on people and nature”, Danwatch, accessed January 8, 2021, https://old.danwatch.dk/undersogelseskapitel/impacts-of-copper-mining-on-people-and-nature/
4 “Zambia shuts polluting Glencore copper plant,” Reuters, March 5, 2012, https://www.reuters.com/article/ozabs-zambia-glencore-pollution-20120305-idAFJOE82405O20120305?edition-redirect=uk
5 Rob Davies, “Glencore court ruling in Zambia may trigger new pollution claims”, The Guardian, September 18, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/sep/18/glencore-court-ruling-in-zambia-may-trigger-new-pollution-claims
6 Matthew Hall, “Glencore agrees $1.5bn sale of Mopani to Zambian Government”, Mining Technology, January 19, 2021, https://www.mining-technology.com/news/deal-news/glencore-zambia-mopani-sale/
2001 – Marc Rich Pardoned by Clinton
On Bill Clinton’s last day as president of the U.S, he pardons Marc Rich, a personal friend. Rich’s ex-wife, Denise, had given $450,000 to the Clinton Library and a further $1.2M to Democratic Party campaigns, including Hilary Clinton’s Senate run.1
1 Jennifer Rankin, “Marc Rich: controversial commodities trader and former fugitive dies aged 78,” The Guardian, June 26, 2013, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/26/marc-rich-commodities-trader-fugitive-dies
2008 – Xstrata vice-president charged with environmental contamination
In a landmark case, an Argentinian prosecutor brings charges of environmental contamination against Xstrata vice-president Julian Rooney for his management of the Alumbrera mine.1 In addition to being the first instance of a Latin American court charging a mining company for environmental damages, the decision has additional significance because of the importance of the mine in question. Run by Xstrata since 2003, Minera Alumbrera was Argentina’s largest mine, and at one point accounted for 40% of Argentina’s mining exports.2 The charges against Xstrata and Rooney revolve around allegations that the mining operations have poisoned water supplies, and have come about due to significant and sustained local resistance and legal action.3
1 David Modersbach, ‘First Ever in Latin America: Mining Corporation Charged with “Crimes Against the Environment”’ in Catamarca, Argentina,’ No Al Mina, June 18, 2008, https://noalamina.org/general/item/1372-first-ever-in-latin-america-mining-corporation-charged-with-crimes-against-the-environment-in-catamarca-argentina
2 Mines Against Communities, “Xstrata’s “best practice” in Argentina,“ October 3, 2004, http://www.minesandcommunities.org//article.php?a=1303
3 “Bajo la Alumbrera mine, Catamarca, Argentina,” EJatlas, August 18, 2019, https://ejatlas.org/conflict/bajo-la-alumbrera-mine-argentina
2008 – Glencore’s bribery scandal in the DRC
In the presence of Glencore co-directors, Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining pays controversial businessman Dan Gertler, unofficial gatekeeper of the DRC’s mining industry and close friend of the then DRC president, $45m to secure a favourable mining contract with the government.1 Gertler negotiates a $445m reduction in the signing bonus, from $585m to $140m, meaning that Glencore pay just a quarter of the going rate to the state-owned mining firm Gécamines. NGO Global Witness would later bring to light many of these backroom deals, with their investigations later confirmed by revelations in the Paradise Papers in 2017, which lead to criminal investigations into Glencore [link to 2018 entry].2.3
1 Ben Doherty, “The inside story of Glencore’s hidden dealings in DRC,” The Guardian, November 5th, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/05/the-inside-story-of-glencore-hidden-dealings-in-drc
2 Global WItness, “Congo’s Secret Sales,” May 13, 2014, https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/oil-gas-and-mining/congo-secret-sales/
3 Public Eye, “Glencore’s murky deals in the DRC,” last accessed February 7, 2021, https://www.publiceye.ch/en/topics/commodities-trading/glencore-in-drc
2011 – Glencore goes public
In 2011, Glencore launches its record-beaking IPO (Initial Public Offering) on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges, becoming a publicly traded company and making billionaires out of its top executives overnight.1 Whilst this landmark change in the company’s operations provides extraordinary riches for Glencore’s management and capital for the company’s operations, it comes at the cost of forcibly increased transparency. With Glencore now obliged to hold shareholder meetings and report on business operations, there are new possibilities to hold the company to account.2
1 Kylie MacLellan, Elzio Barreto, “Glencore $11 billion IPO to make billionaires of bosses,” Reuters, May 4, 2011, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-glencore-ipo-idUSTRE7430EF20110504
2 Mines and Communities, “Glencore: The Monster Has Landed!”, May 24, 2011, http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=10916
2012 – Xstrata funds killings in Philippines
On October 18th 2012, soldiers from an Xstrata-funded paramilitary unit shoot Juvy Capion and her two children Jordan (aged 13) and Jan-Jan (aged 8) dead in their home.1 The Capion family are influential members of the B’laan community, one of the indigenous peoples of the South Cotabato region of Mindanao, in the Philippines, and vocal opponents of Xstrata’s plans to build a multibillion-dollar copper and gold mine on the community’s land.
The proposed Tampakan project, which was managed at the time by Xstrata subsidiary Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), never received the consent of the B’laan, who organised against it through legal challenges, civil resistance and eventually declared tribal war (pangayaw). Their protest was violently suppressed by Xstrata-SMI: senior figures in the Philipine Army have attested under oath that the paramilitary group Task Force KITACO, responsible for the massacre of the Capion family and harassment of the B’laan, was set up and funded by the company.2
This incident occurs exactly one year after Fr. Fausto Tentorio, an Italian missionary, indigenous rights activist, and Tampakan critic, was shot dead inside a convent.3
1 Ina Alleco Silverio, “Politicians, military blamed for Tampakan massacre,” Bulatlat, October 30, 2012,
2 Global Witness, Defending the Philippines: How broken promises are leaving land and environmental defenders at the mercy of business at all costs, September 2019, p. 28, available from https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/defending-philippines/
3 Carolyn O. Arguillas, Italian priest gunned down in North Cotabato,” MindaNews, October 17, 2011, https://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2011/10/italian-priest-gunned-down-in-north-cotabato/
2012 – Xstrata accused of funding police beatings, torture, and killings in Peru
In Peru, a strike is called by local organizations against Xstrata and its Tintaya mine over pollution, land rights and social responsibility disputes. In the protests, two protestors are killed by the police, another is hit in the head by a tear gas canister and left paraplegic, and many more are injured, beaten and tortured.1
Xstrata allegedly paid the national police £700,000 for security services, provided them with rubber bullets and teargas, and housed them in barracks in the mine. An Xstrata director had emailed the South America director to take a “direct, proactive and strong approach” against the protestors, who he described as “sons of whores.”2
2 Owen Bowcott, “UK mining firm in court over claims it mistreated environmental activists,” The Guardian, October 31, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/oct/31/uk-mining-firm-in-court-over-claims-it-mistreated-environmental-activists
2013 – Glencore and Xstrata merger
After 450 days of negotiations and asset sales to satisfy regulators, Glencore successfully takes over Xstrata to form Glencore Xstrata. With 190,000 employees in over 50 countries, the mining giant is now one of the largest in the world.1
In order to satisfy Chinese regulators, Glencore Xstrata agrees to sell the Las Bambas mine in Peru, one of Xstrata’s flagship copper mines.2 Although incredibly lucrative – at the time of sale Las Bambas accounts for 1.5% of Peru’s GDP – the mine has been the focus of substantial unrest. In 2015, widespread protests against plans to expand it meet a violent reaction from the Peruvian military, with four protestors killed and a state of emergency imposed across the region.3
1 Javier Blas, “Glencore finishes takeover of Xstrata,” Financial Times, May 2, 2013, https://www.ft.com/content/9d355d82-b31a-11e2-95b3-00144feabdc0
2 .Shivani Singh, “MMG agrees $5.85bn deal to buy Las Bambas from Glencore Xstrata,” MetalBulletin, April 14, 2014,
3 Mines and Communities, “Peru Declares State of Emergency After Clashes at Las Bambas,” September 3, 2014
2014 – Glencore alleged to have funded Colombian paramilitaries
In 2014, the peace movement PAX releases a report on the paramilitary violence that occurred in Cesar between 1996 and 2006 – a region of northern Colombia in which Glencore owns two mines through its subsidiary Prodeco [see 1995].1
In that period there were over 3,000 killings and forced disappearances attributable to the Juan Andrés Álvarez Front, a paramilitary group operating in the region around the mines.2 Testimony from Prodeco security staff and paramilitary commanders alleges that Prodeco directly funded the JAA Front, and bought land for the expansion of the mine from paramilitaries who had violently seized it from its occupants. Furthermore, it is alleged that Prodeco security staff infiltrated mining trade unions and shared the information they gathered with the army and the JAA Front – who regularly assassinated trade unionists. The testimony alleges that this was done in collaboration with Drummond Co., a US-based mining group that operate a coal mine nearby.3 Glencore claim these allegations are untrue and unsubstantiated.4 Drummond have since been charged by the Colombian courts with complicity in gross human rights violations.5
Problems with Prodeco continued: In 2016 Glencore was fined 60 billion pesos by the Colombian Financial Control Office over an investment treaty dispute, which was later overturned by the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.6 By 2021, Glencore announced that it would leave Calenturitas and La Jagua. The group says that it is “proud to have…supported the important Peace Process in Colombia.”7
1 Marianne Moor and Joris van de Sandt for PAX, “The Dark Side of Coal: Paramilitary Violence in the Mining Region of Cesar, Colombia,”, June 2014, https://www.paxforpeace.nl/publications/all-publications/the-dark-side-of-coal
2 The Dark Side of Coal, pg. 22.
3 The Dark Side of Coal, pg. 56-78.
4 The Dark Side of Coal, pg. 90.
5 PAX, “Top-level Drummond managers charged with financing paramilitaries,” Jan 13, 2021, https://www.paxforpeace.nl/stay-informed/news/top-level-drummond-managers-charged-with-financing-paramilitaries
6 Enrique Prieto-Rios and René Urueña, “ Glencore contra Colombia : una condena agridulce,” RazonPublica, September 9, 2019, https://www.razonpublica.com/index.php/econom-y-sociedad-temas-29/12260-glencore-contra-colombia-una-condena-agridulce.html
7“Glencore subsidiary Prodeco to hand over mining contracts to Colombia,” Mining Technology, February 5, 2021, https://www.mining-technology.com/news/glencore-subsidiary-prodeco-mining-contracts-colombia/
2015 – More anti-mining advocates murdered at the Tampakan mine
On the 7th September 2015, Emeri Samarca, the director of an indigenous Lumad school of Sustainable Agriculture, is found tied to a chair with his throat slit by members of the Magahat-Bidani militia, who are reportedly under the control of the Phillipine army. The militia then publicly execute tribal leader Dionel Campos and his cousin Aurelio Sinzo in front of teachers and students of the school.1
All three victims were anti-mining organisers, and join a long list of victims killed for their opposition to the mine: 60-year old B’laan elder Anting Freay and his 16-year old son Victor, Juvello Sinzo, Eliezer “Boy” Billanes, Dioquino Scuadro, Roque Laputan, Juvy Capion and family, and many others.2,3
Although in September 2015, when Emeri was murdered, Glencore-Xstrata had just sold its stake in the Tampakan project,4 the company is directly responsible for this deadly legacy of militia activity [see 2012 entry]. The scars Glencore leaves in communities and society are just as toxic as those it leaves in the ground.
1 Kalikasan PNE, “Perpetrators of the Lianga massacre must be punished, and the war of plunder against the Lumad must end,” Piplinks, September 7, 2015 http://www.piplinks.org/perpetrators-lianga-massacre-must-be-punished,-and-war-plunder-against-lumad-must-end.html
2 John Rizle L Saligumba, “Groups bewail killing of another anti-SMI Xstrata mining leader, son,” Bulatlat, August 27, 2013, https://www.bulatlat.com/2013/08/27/groups-bewail-killing-of-another-anti-smi-xstrata-mining-leader-son/
3 Karapatan, Oplan Bantay Laya: Blueprint for Terror and Impunity, 2009 Annual Report, p.12, available from https://www.bulatlat.com/2010/03/09/download-oplan-bantay-laya-blueprint-for-terror-and-impunity-karapatan-2009-yearend-report-on-human-rights/
4 Bong S. Sarmiento, “Officials quash plan, for now, to develop Philippines’ biggest copper mine,” Mongabay, August 30, 2020, https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/officials-quash-plan-for-now-to-develop-philippines-biggest-copper-mine/
2017 – Children poisoned in Cerro de Pasco
In 2017 Glencore buys a majority stake in the Cerro de Pasco mine, an open-pit mine in the middle of a major Peruvian city, and resumes mining operations.1 After operations begin again – they had been paused for 11 months – the heavy metal poisoning of local children and residents worsens considerably.
78% of children surveyed experienced symptoms of heavy metal poisoning, including chronic gastrointestinal diseases, reduced vision, depression and other behaviour disorders. There are high levels of lung cancer, stomach cancer, depression, and suicide amongst the adult population. The heavy metal poisoning was found by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis to be directly caused by the mining activities.2 Glencore sold the mine in 2019.3
Further Reading: Cerro de Pasco: The city built around a mine
1 “Glencore to acquire voting shares of Volcan Compañia Minera S.A.A.,” Glencore.com, October 3, 2017,
2 Center for Climate Crime Analysis, Report to the Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global on the situation in Cerro de Pasco, 28 June 2019, full report available from https://www.essex.ac.uk/news/2019/08/08/peruvian-mine-owners-responsible-for-dangerous-pollution-essex-human-rights-students-find
3 “Cerro de Pasco acquires Volcan’s mining assets in Peru for $30 million,” Mining.com, November 28, 2019,
2018 – Glencore-Xstrata fined over DRC corruption
When the Paradise Papers bring the corrupt dealings of Glencore executives in the DRC to public attention, legal investigations begin across the world. The first of these to conclude, in 2018, is a probe by the Ontario Securities Commission – the regulator for the Toronto Stock Exchange in which Katanga is traded – which results in Katanga paying CAD$30 million to the commission and admitting all allegations.1 Board members are forced to step down, personally pay fines totalling CAD$6 million, and admit they undermined Katanga’s corporate governance. This includes the head of Glencore’s copper operations, Aristotelis Mistakidis.
Further investigations come soon after. In July 2018, the U.S Department of Justice launches a probe into corruption, which is followed by a bribery investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office and a criminal investigation by the Swiss Attorney General.2,3,4
1 Ontario Securities Commission, “News Release: OSC Panel approves settlement with Katanga Mining Limited…”, December 18, 2018, https://www.osc.gov.on.ca/en/NewsEvents_nr_20181218_osc-panel-approves-settlement-with-katanga-mining-limited.htm
2 Neil Hume, David Sheppard, Henry Sanderson, “Glencore subpoenaed by US justice department,” Financial Times, July 3, 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/b18205f4-7e91-11e8-8e67-1e1a0846c475
3 UK SFO, “SFO confirms investigation into suspected bribery at Glencore group of companies”
4 Public Eye, “Glencore’s murky deals in the DRC,” Public Eye, accessed January 8, 2021, https://www.publiceye.ch/en/topics/commodities-trading/glencore-in-drc