Glencore’s former top copper trader joins digital metal startup

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Glencore Plc’s former head of copper marketing, Nico Paraskevas, joined Open Mineral as a senior adviser after investing in the digital metals trading startup.

Paraskevas, who left Glencore during a leadership reshuffle early last year, is joining the company alongside Kareem Barbir, formerly head of metals concentrates trading at Concord Resources, an Open Mineral spokeswoman said in a statement. She confirmed that Paraskevas — who had been one of the leading candidates to run Glencore before Gary Nagle took over — participated in Open Mineral’s latest funding round, without quantifying the stake size. 

The hires bolster Switzerland-based Open Mineral’s senior ranks as it looks to boost spot trading volumes on its digital platform, which was launched in 2017 with the aim of shifting the mining industry away from phone- and paper-based trading. It said it now has more than 900 metals and mining companies from 40 countries registered on its platform. 

Open Mineral was set up by former Glencore traders Boris Eykher and Ilya Chernilovskiy, and attracted new investors including Mubadala Investment Co., Statkraft and Lingfeng Capital in a fund-raising round last year. 

Despite several large-scale frauds in the metals markets in recent years, the industry is still heavily reliant on paper documents to underpin trades, while transactions are typically negotiated via email and phone. Still, there are signs that leading producers and consumers are starting to turn to digital platforms designed to be faster, cheaper, more transparent and more secure.

The London Metal Exchange, which sets global benchmark futures prices for the industry, is looking to launch a physical spot trading platform for aluminum in early 2022. It’s developing the system with Metalshub, a digital start-up founded by two former Anglo American Plc executives.

(By Jack Farchy and Mark Burton)

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