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Glencore copper and cobalt mining, Zambia

Sulphur dioxide emissions, acid rains, and smuggling profits out of Zambia without paying taxes and bringing profits to a tax haven, Switzerland: the Zambian receipee of Glencore's profits


The main activity of Glencore in Zambia is the mining of copper and cobalt, which is carried out through the subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines mainly on the Copperbelt province in the areas of Mufulira and Kitwe. The environmental effects of mining activities specific to the Mufulira Kanyono site are mainly air, water and land/soil pollution, mainly due to sulphur dioxide emission above WHO minimums in the construction of the extraction plants, and causing permanent damage to livelihoods and cultivations. The pollution forms acid rain and endangers plant life. Furthermore, Mopani Copper Mines smuggles its profits out of Zambia without paying taxes and bringing profits to a tax haven, Switzerland, according to a leaked Financial Audit Report carried out by tax specialists Grant Thornton and Econ Poyry, analysing the balances of the company and mine activities from 2003 to 2008.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Glencore copper and cobalt mining, Zambia
State or province:Copperbelt
Location of conflict:Mufulira and Kitwe
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Copper
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Mopanis stated production capacity is 250,000 tonnes of copper and 2,400 tonnes of cobalt per year

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Project area:19,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectMopani Copper Mines claims US$2 billion spent
Type of populationRural
Company names or state enterprises:Mopani Copper Mines PLC from Zambia
Glencore Public Limited Company from Switzerland
Relevant government actors:Zambia Environmental Management Authority , Zambian Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Council of Zambia , Ministry of Mines and Minerals Development
International and Finance InstitutionsEuropean Investment Bank (EIB)
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
International Monetary Fund (FMI)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Citizens for a Better Environment, Centre for Trade Policy and Development, Earth and Environmental Organisation, Green and Justice, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Permanent Peoples Tribunal
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the leaching plant that was closed in 2012 has reopened after certain conditions were met by the mine, there are numerous reports going back over 10 years that indicate that environmental pollution is a recurring problem. It, therefore, seems likely that there will be further cases of pollution.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Environmental Protection and Pollution Control
[click to view]

(Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations, 1997

Guidelines on Multinational Corporations and Human Rights (OECD)
[click to view]

Mines and Minerals Act 1995
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Stealing Africa: How Copper Industry Leaves Zambia in Poverty, November 26, 2012
[click to view]

Glencore report: European Investment Bank must drag its secrets into the light, 20 August 2014
[click to view]

Case overview, Sherpa et al vs Glencore International AG
[click to view]

Glencore in Zambia: The Tax Questions That Persist
[click to view]

The Guardian - European Investment Bank accused of suppressing Zambian mining report
[click to view]

Global Campaign to Stop Corporate Impunity
[click to view]

Centre for Trade Policy and Development
[click to view]

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014
[click to view]

Glencore halts copper projects in Zambia over tax row
[click to view]

Glencore report: European Investment Bank must drag its secrets into the light
[click to view]

Accusations of Glencore-Zambia tax probe cover-up
[click to view]

Other comments:See more at:
Meta information
Contributor:Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Transnational Institute - TNI, Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD)
Last update08/06/2015
Conflict ID:2001
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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