Glencore keeps mum on land claim in South Africa

Light reflects on signage at sunset near the Glencore Plc headquarters office in Baar, Switzerland, on Friday, July 6, 2018. Photographer: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

GLENCORE said in its sustainability report published this week that it was defending a land claim in South Africa. But it declined to provide details.

“There is one ongoing land claim related to an industrial asset in South Africa,” it said in the report cited by BusinessLive. “The communities involved are engaged and the claim process is before the land claims commission, which is legally mandated to resolve the dispute,” it added.

However, Glencore decided not to elaborate. “We are not commenting further than the disclosure in the report,” group spokesperson Charles Watenphul told the newspaper. Glencore has had a presence in South Africa dating back to 1974, the newspaper said. It has four coal operations in Mpumalanga, and its ferroalloys assets are in North West and Limpopo provinces, it said.

Glencore’s sustainability report is eagerly anticipated owing to its controversial decision to remain invested in thermal coal when its peer group has largely divested from the fuel. Glencore’s contention is that it will responsibly wind-down the operations over time rather than sell the mines to other parties. In terms of this commitment it will shut six mines by 2035 including iMpunzi and Wonderfontein colleries in South Africa.

Wonderfontein, a surface coal mine in Mpumalanga, has a lifespan of up to 2030. Other shareholders in the venture, which has an output peak rate of 4.2 million tons a year, are Phembani Group and Lithemba Wonderfontein Coal. The iMpunzi mine has a lifespan of up to 2031, said BusinessLive.

Glencore said there was broad support among its shareholders for its climate strategy. It said more than 76% of shareholders voted for the group’s 2021 Climate Progress Report.