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

2 “Zambia in water pollution scare”, BBC News, January 3, 2008,

3 “Impacts of copper mining on people and nature”, Danwatch, accessed January 8, 2021,

4 “Zambia shuts polluting Glencore copper plant,” Reuters, March 5, 2012,

5 Rob Davies, “Glencore court ruling in Zambia may trigger new pollution claims”, The Guardian, September 18, 2016,

6  Matthew Hall, “Glencore agrees $1.5bn sale of Mopani to Zambian Government”, Mining Technology, January 19, 2021,