Aid workers denounce glencore

Aid workers denounce glencore

The company, based in the swiss canton of zug, vehemently denied the allegations, which were broadcast worldwide by the british BBC. The accusations were raised by the aid organizations “bread for all” and “fasting sacrifice”.

They say they have spent six months investigating glencore’s business practices in the central african country, interviewing local witnesses. “The swiss raw materials company buys copper from intermediaries, which was mined under very precarious conditions and by children,” the organizations complain. “Glencore also engages in tax avoidance, disregards labor rights and causes massive environmental damage.”

The company, which controls large parts of the world’s raw material extraction and marketing, refuted the accusations. In the congo, glencore also operates according to the principles of “fair pay and zero tolerance for human rights abuses”.

Critics blame glencore for the situation at the tilwezembe copper mine, which belongs to the swiss empire through its subsidiary kamoto copper company (KCC). 1600 small-scale miners – a third of them underage – are said to be mining raw materials on their own, which glencore obtains through intermediaries.

In tilwezembe “small shurfer with bare hands and without safety precautions descended into shafts up to 80 meters deep,” explain the organizations. “Fatal accidents occur time and again, and the desolate hygiene situation causes numerous illnesses.”

The company explained that the mining area in question had been occupied by the small-scale harvesters. “Glencore does not profit in any way from this, nor does it buy any products from the small-scale miners,” said glencore spokesman simon buerk. “Elsewhere, other operators have tried to evict people in comparable situations, which has led to violence and also to death traps,” buerk told the swiss dispatch agency SDA. Glencore, however, is proceeding cautiously and trying to prevent escalations.

Glencore is responsible for the pollution of the luilu river in the resource-rich province of katanga by its subsidiary KCC, the organizations further criticize. There are now no more fish there. The company replied that it had started to install a closed system for river effluent after taking over the KCC operations in 2009. The problem has now been solved.

However, the company did not respond to allegations by aid agencies that the african state had lost $196 million in taxes by relocating the headquarters of subsidiaries operating in the congo abroad. The group, which employs 55,000 people directly and indirectly worldwide and maintains a fleet of 100 container ships to transport raw materials, made a profit of 4.27 billion dollars last year. Total investment in the congo to grow to 3.3 billion dollars by the end of 2012, according to group figures.


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