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Glencore releases all-embracing 117-page sustainability report

16th April 2018 BY: Martin Creamer
Creamer Media Editor
Glencore's Anna Krutikov
Glencore's Anna Krutikov

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – One of the strategic priorities of diversified mining and marketing company Glencore is to invest in community initiatives that deliver sustainable socioeconomic benefits, the London- and Johannesburg-listed company states in today’s 117-page Sustainability Report 2017, which emphasises the determination of this large natural resource company to improve employee safety, reduce water and energy use and to lower carbon emissions.

Last year the company, which operates in 50 countries on 150 sites, invested $90-million in community initiatives as part of a commitment to create lasting benefits for stakeholders in a manner that is “responsible, transparent and respectful to the rights of all”. In the same year it paid $4-billion in taxes and royalties to host governments.

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As a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, Glencore helps governments to achieve the UN body’s sustainable development goals, while also upholding the International Labour Organisation Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the comprehensive report, Glencore chairperson Tony Hayward notes that 2017 marks the publication by Glencore of its first 'modern slavery statement', which assesses the risks of slavery, servitude, forced and child labour and human trafficking within its operations and supply chains, and identifies the steps the company is taking to mitigate and eliminate these risks.

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In his review, Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg expresses a strong determination to eliminate fatalities from the business through continued implementation of a culture of safety and effective operational controls. “It is with great regret that we experienced nine fatalities during the year,” he states.

Each time the company suffers a fatality, the management of the operation concerned flies to the headquarters to meet with the members of the board’s top-level Health, Safety, Environment and Community (HSEC)  committee, which includes Hayward, Glasenberg and board members Peter Coates and Patrice Merrin.

Glencore’s 2017 HSEC summit focused on sharing learnings on safety and management of catastrophic hazards facing its operations and insights from programmes conducted in the South Africa-focused ferroalloys business have been shared to further encourage employees to choose lifesaving behaviours.

In a telephone interview with Mining Weekly Online to mark the release of the report of the company that employs close to 146 000 people, Glencore head of sustainable development Anna Krutikov reiterated the company's commitment to employing locally wherever possible and also to sourcing products and services from local businesses, again wherever possible.

She also pointed out that Glencore looks to enhancing the infrastructure that it is required to build as a mining company, so that this infrastructure can also serve as a shared benefit to the communities around its operations.

As a member of the Plenary of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights, the International Council on Mining and Metals, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Glencore engages in strategic outreach.

“We live and breathe an open-door policy. From our CEO down, we’ll meet with anybody who has a concern or an interest in the company, or some aspects of its operations,” said Krutikov.

Sustainability Report 2017 states that last year Glencore addressed 1 063 community complaints.

The company regularly hosts visits to its operations by government officials, civil society and community representatives. At group level, it meets with governments, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), customers, investors and the media, “first of all to explain what we do and how we do it, and to answer any questions, but also to understand the evolving expectations landscape, and how to make sure that our practices continue to evolve in a way that meets those growing expectations", said Krutikov.

LOCAL COMMUNITIES

In interacting with many diverse communities around the world, the report states that Glencore actively seeks broad-based, ongoing support from local communities as part of its licence to operate. It engages with communities through regular dialogue and works closely with them to maximise the value the business creates for them.

Krutikov outlined that if, for example, the company needs to extend a road or to open up an airport, it takes steps to enable members of the local community to make shared use of that infrastructure, as well to give communities access to local markets or the workplace.

As part of that, local enterprises are backed and local people assisted in building up businesses, for which the company provides mentoring, offtake programmes and collaboration with other mining companies to promote the local businesses.

“That’s something we do quite a lot in the Rustenburg area in South Africa, where we work with other mining companies in business centres that offer an opportunity for young entrepreneurs to develop their businesses,” Krutikov told Mining Weekly Online. Glencore mines chrome in the Rustenburg area, where it also has ferrochrome production facilities.

Also in South Africa, Glencore’s substantial coal business offers training linked to needs identified within the mining industry and other non-mining portable skills in order to reduce dependency. During 2017, 106 community engineering learners received theoretical and practical training, 84 received driver education licence training, 49 attended training colleges to obtain a trade qualification, 31 received training in early childhood development and nine received training to work with children and adults with special needs.

One of the challenges the company is looking to overcome is a culture of dependency on the mining operations, which is pronounced in particularly Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where companies now in the Glencore group were previously run as quasi-State entities that tended to provide everything to the towns in which they were operating.

While addressing unrealistic expectations that the communities may have of mining operations, work is being done with them to develop opportunities to help them to be more sustainably autonomous so that as and when the mines close, which they inevitably will do, communities are resilient and are able to continue to thrive.

“A lot of it is easier said than done,” Krutikov noted in her interview with Mining Weekly Online.

Glencore is working intensively with some of the communities around its Colombian operations on what the community aspires to be once the mine closes and how the community would like to play a part in a Colombia that overcomes its legacy of conflict.

“If somebody asked me what I wanted to be in 30 years, I certainly would struggle for an answer. Working on that with an entire community is an enormous challenge but it’s also an incredible opportunity, and it’s something that we’re working on very hard,” she said.

In the Kolwezi area, where Glencore has its operations in the DRC, problematic artisanal mining activity is widespread, and a big part of the company’s community programmes is to offer alternative livelihood opportunities through cooperatives to the people involved in artisanal mining activities, particularly women and children who find themselves driven to it.

“Again, the focus is on helping those cooperatives to become autonomous. We start by having an offtake agreement, so we buy the produce. But we’re now in a position where those cooperatives are selling into the local market, local restaurants and they want to sell into the town.

“It’s fantastic that they’re able to thrive and we’ve got about 4 000 people in those cooperatives today. About half of them are women and also about half are former artisanal miners. That means they’re able to put their kids through school, they're able to maintain their houses, they’re able to have a life and they don’t have to resort to this horrible activity of artisanal mining,” was Krutikov's comment to Mining Weekly Online.  

Glencore’s Katanga and Mutanda copper operations in the DRC are supporting holiday camps for school children and agricultural initiatives to deter the participation of children and women in artisanal mining.

Katanga and Mutanda work with local NGOs and churches to deliver the holiday camps. During June to August 2017, more than 7 200 children participated in theatre, drawing, music, scouts as well as discussions on the risks of artisanal mining and the importance of education.

Attendees received a meal each day, and at the end of the camps, ceremonies are attended by representatives from the local authorities and community leaders, to demonstrate the activities undertaken by the children and to award each child a school uniform.

To encourage greater attendance at the holiday camps, they are inter-linked with economic diversification projects delivered by local cooperatives. The projects include those focused on livestock farming, beekeeping, dairy farming and the production of jam, juices and flour, welding, carpentry and catering.

Glencore’s Katanga copper operation in the DRC is working with local authorities to support and promote local employment and procurement through funding infrastructure improvement projects, while in the Kolwezi region, the local authorities are keen to develop small and medium-sized enterprises and see Katanga as a key player in the delivery of this ambition, the report states.

Katanga has undertaken consultation sessions with local communities that included representatives from civil society, including churches, NGOs, schools and youth movements, women’s associations and agriculture cooperatives, to identify projects to develop local procurement and skills.

Following the consultation process, Katanga identified a number of projects including repairing schools, a community centre and hospital wards, building a health centre and drilling community wells. Katanga is employing local contractors and suppliers on all of the projects.

The Katanga and Mutanda operations last year provided training for 1 530 contractors and 148 employees, and a further 30 mine police participated in an information session. Mutanda also provides regular training to the regional police force.

Glencore has established a public-private partnership with the government on a $400-million commitment towards the refurbishment of the DRC’s power infrastructure. The completion of the work is due in early 2019. The project will align with a World Bank project to expand electricity access in unserved and poorly served areas. Its DRC assets are meeting their energy needs through power supply agreements with the national power corporation, SNEL, which delivers energy produced from hydroelectric sources.

In South Africa, all of Glencore’s ferroalloys smelters meet the updated industry-specific sulphur dioxide emissions limits that will come into force in 2020. The Glencore vanadium smelter, Rhovan, has implemented improved measures, the impact of which are being tracked ahead of the regulatory deadline.

CLIMATE CHANGE

The group has set a target of reducing carbon emissions by at least 5% below the 2016 level of 35.3-million tonnes by 2020. This target reflects the work Glencore has undertaken to date on understanding its carbon footprint.

Through the inclusion of climate change considerations into the company’s yearly planning process, its commodity departments have established energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) forecasts for each asset.

Additionally, departments are identifying, monitoring and delivering a portfolio of energy and GHG emission reduction opportunities for their assets.

In 2017, the group generated 33.5-million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the 1.8-million tonnes decrease on 2016 being primarily due to lower coal seam emissions at the company’s coal mines.

In Canada, the second wind turbine at the Raglan mine is under construction and should produce electricity for the first time in September. Raglan’s first wind turbine delivered savings of 2.2-million litres of diesel last year, a reduction of 6 250 t of GHG emissions and equivalent to taking 1 350 vehicles off the road

At Nordenham, Glencore’s zinc plant in Germany, the recycling loop of materials in its alloying operations has been reduced, preventing the processing of the material throughout the whole plant. In addition, it installed advanced compressors that are reducing energy consumption. Together, these improvements are delivering carbon savings of 1 400 t of GHG emissions a year.

Oil production assets in Chad have begun to electrify their camps using waste gases as the energy source. The projected yearly carbon savings are 5 000 t of GHG.

Glencore’s Carbon Transport and Storage Corporation's (CTSCo's) integrated Surat Basin carbon capture and storage (CCS) project is a scalable demonstration project. Formed in 2010, CTSCo brings together the deep subsurface skills required to demonstrate the effective deployment of storage technology in Queensland’s Surat Basin region. The study is delivering an integrated CCS project that incorporates capture at a coal power station, transportation and sequestration to establish a basis for permitting of long-term CO2 storage in a suitable location in Queensland.

This study will provide a model to deliver a viable commercial approach to reducing CO2 emissions in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia, reducing Australia’s overall carbon footprint and benefiting all emitters of CO2 requiring storage, Glencore’s Sustainability Report 2017 states. 

EDITED BY: Creamer Media Reporter
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