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Glencore’s human rights report addresses challenges of operating in the DRC

Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore’s chief executive officer (Image: Wikipedia)

Swiss commodities giant Glencore is facing media scrutiny this week, as illegal miners are being removed from the site of the Glencore project where at least 43 died last week in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC)   

The workers entered the KCC operation without permission and put their lives at risk by digging at the site, one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines.   

In the DRC, poverty existing next to massive known metal and mineral reserves in vast and unsecured mining zones compounds to create common illegal artisanal mining practices that put countless lives at risk.  

“In 2018, we supported over 140 agricultural cooperatives with over 4,000 members, many of whom are former artisanal miners” 

Glencore’s Human Rights Report, 2018

“We prioritize the safety and security of our workforce and host communities,” Glencore said in a statement on Thursday. “KCC will continue to engage with all the relevant stakeholders to collaborate on identifying and implementing a long-term, sustainable solution to illegal mining in the DRC.” 

In its first published standalone Human Rights Report (2018), Glencore addresses the challenges of operating in the DRC directly.  

Glencore estimates that 2,000 unauthorized people enter its open-pit mine in the DRC on average every day.  

“In March 2019, our DRC assets, MUMI and KCC, hosted IndustriALL on a fact-finding mission to understand the working conditions at these sites and to promote compliance with International Labour Organization’s Conventions and Glencore’s Code of Conduct, as well as to discuss the challenges of operating in the DRC,” Glencore’s report reads.  

The visit focused on the efforts both assets are taking to continue to strengthen working conditions and to contribute to the socio-economic development. 

The report hones in on the Sustainable Communities Challenge:  

“The economy in the DRC is heavily focused on resource extraction, which has led to a rise in informal and artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) practices. The influx of people to the area, looking to participate in mining, has an enormous impact on community dynamics and increases security related risks,” the report acknowledges.  

Glencore notes that its DRC assets are in locations where communities are facing poverty and limited employment opportunities.  

“While we are not the only operator in this region, we recognise the cumulative impact mining operations can have on the area. We are working with the government and other locally based organisations to develop additional solutions,” the report states.  

Through engagement with local communities, Glencore identified a desire for alternative livelihood opportunities, including agriculture.  

“In 2018, we supported over 140 agricultural cooperatives with over 4,000 members, many of whom are former artisanal miners. We are encouraging these alternative livelihood programmes to become independent and sustainable.”  

While Glencore knows it is common for impoverished communities in resource-rich countries to turn to ASM as a means to generate income, the report states that the company’s due diligence processes ensure ASM material does not enter its supply chain.  

Read the full report here

(With files from Bloomberg)