Glencore is one of the world’s largest commodities companies – it operates in 150 countries extracting natural resources such as iron and copper, but also has interests in coal and oil, as well as numerous agricultural products.
Glencore – key facts and stats
- It is registered in Switzerland
- Has £128 billion in assets (2015)
- Had a revenue in 2016 of $150 billion
- Employs 150 000 people globally
- The CEO is Ivan Glassenberg, who has a total net worth of around $5 billion.
Criticisms of Glencore
Below are some arguments and evidence that Glencore is an example of a Transnational Company which is not really interested in promoting development in poor countries, but really just interested in extracting as much as it can for as cheaply as possible.
Glencore has been widely criticized because it has made staggering profits by extracting huge volumes of natural resources out of poor countries. To put the size of Glencore in perspective, the annual revenue of the company is 10 times greater than the GDP of Zambia.
The 2013 video below documents how the company struck a deal with Zambia to mine its copper in which it extracts around $1 billion of copper per year but pays only 8% tax to the government, and gets free electricity for its mines into the bargain (paid for by the government).
This report from War on Want estimates that a combination of poor trade deals and tax avoidance costs the Zambian government $3 billion/ year, or 10% of its GPP. The report isn’t limited to just Glencore, it focuses on other mining companies such as Vedanta, none of these companies comes off as effectively promoting development in poor countries.
Glencore has also come under heavy criticisms for poor health and safety conditions in many of its mines, its record on environmental pollution and benefitting from child labour in the DRC.
Students might like to use these sources to assess the role of the TNC Glencore in promoting economic and social development in poor countries.
Glencore Wikipedia entry (useful for basic history/ stats)
Glencore’s ‘Supporting Development’ page – have a look at Zambia and the DRC.
Glencore paid £30 000 to compensate for a pollution related death – Guardian article
Glencore denies benefitting from child labour in DRC – Guardian article