Financial Risk and Dependence on Glencore

The proposed PolyMet NorthMet open pit sulfide mine would put Minnesota’s environment at risk from long-term pollution.  Minnesota Rules require financial assurance, but amounts required can be adjusted on an annual basis, and could be subject to political pressure.

A Critical Part of Financial Assurance is Making Sure that the Corporate Deep Pockets behind PolyMet are Held Responsible for Any Risks. Glencore, a foreign corporation with more than $200 billion in annual revenues and $136 billion in assets (2018), is PolyMet’s parent corporation, its primary investor, the sole purchaser of any metals or concentrates that would be produced by the NorthMet project and a significant influence on PolyMet operational project decision-making.

WaterLegacy has called for a contested case hearing on the draft Permit to Mine for the PolyMet NorthMet project.

WaterLegacy has also called for including Glencore on any proposed Permit to Mine for the PolyMet NorthMet project. 


Glencore and PolyMet - Bad Deal for Minnesota


Glencore – Huge Multinational Corporation Ranked among World’s “Worst”

  • Glencore is notorious for environmental and human rights violations worldwide. In 2013, Glencore was identified as one of the worst corporations in the world for environmental and human rights abuses.
  • In 2015, members of the United Steelworkers union ranked Glencore the second-worst corporation in terms of lifetime corporate irresponsibility: 
“Glencore is truly deserving of this recognition as one of the most irresponsible companies on the planet. . . Glencore has mistreated workers and harmed communities on nearly every continent.”
  • Glencore’s Board Chairman is Tony Hayward, who was group chief executive of British Petroleum from 2007 to 2010; during the time of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. 

PolyMet – Glencore Financing, Rights to Production and Influence

  • Glencore owns all the rights to all products from the PolyMet sulfide mine and plant for the entire duration of the project.
  • If Glencore were to exercise all of its rights under agreements with PolyMet, it would own 40.0% of PolyMet.
  • Since 2012, NorthMet costs have skyrocketed, while the rate of return has dropped by two-thirds, from 30.6% to around 10%. PolyMet is not attractive to independent investors.


PolyMet and Glencore Serve Global Profit, Send Minnesota Metals to China

  • Due to PolyMet’s exclusive contracts with Glencore, metals mined in Minnesota will bolster China, not U.S. independence.
  • As a condition of its merger with the Xstrata mining company, Glencore must supply China with copper concentrate through the end of the decade. Glencore also made a recent deal to send China one-third of its cobalt.

READ WaterLegacy’s Fact Sheet: Glencore and PolyMet – Bad Deal for Minnesota (April 2018)


Contact Governor Dayton to protect Minnesota from PolyMet/Glencore

Use the Contact Form on the web site for Governor Mark Dayton.

Where the form states Question/Comment/Request, paste the following text (or draft your own variation):

Glencore is the real power and money behind the PolyMet NorthMet project. I urge you to deny any Permit to Mine for the PolyMet NorthMet project. At very least, don’t allow Glencore to take profit from Minnesota without being on every permit as the company responsible to treat and remediate pollution.

Glencore is a bad actor – harming the environment and abusing workers at mines and smelters worldwide. We don’t need this kind of corporate influence in Minnesota.


Glencore’s Poor Environmental Track Record

WaterLegacy’s 2011 PolyMet & Glencore Report, prepared with Elliot Wyse, William Mitchell Law School Intern, provides information underscoring the need for financial scrutiny of the PolyMet project:

  • Glencore, a multi-billion dollar privately-held foreign company founded by pardoned U.S. tax exile, Marc Rich, has been named by European NGOs as the “Worst Corporation of the Year” – globally;
  • Glencore has cut jobs at the Mopani copper mine in Zambia, Africa when copper prices fluctuated, creating a boom and bust for the local economy. Observers report that infrastructure in the host community has been left derelict;
  • Environmental problems at Glencore’s Mopani mine have resulted in fish kills and drinking water contamination resulting in hospitalizations of 800 people;
  • Glencore’s Prodeco coal operation in Columbia was fined $700,000 in 2009 for numerous environmental violations; its Cerrejon plant is notorious for displacing indigenous peoples and razing their villages;
  • Glencore’s South American operations have also been criticized for systematic firings of union workers and intimidation through the use of armed guards;
  • Glencore’s Metaleurop copper processing subsidiary removed corporate resources, leaving workers uncompensated and imposing on France a $411 million unfunded pollution liability.


Glencore’s Violation of Workers’ and Unions’ Rights

IndustriALL Global Union provided a summary of Glencore’s anti-union behavior through 2014, including: 

  • Reports from 32 delegates representing IndustriALL affiliates from 14 countries agreed, “the consistent brutality and disrespect for workers' and unions' rights displayed by Glencore throughout its operations . . are in clear contrast to the public mirage created by its public relations machines.”
  • In the United States, management at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant in Texas locked out members of the United Steelworkers (USW) demanding drastic concessions, including stripping retirees of health care benefits.
  • In Peru, workers at Antamina mine were subjected to health and safety violations on a regular basis and were denied fair payment for bonuses and overtime. Workers are being excluded from the Miners’ Pension Fund and Glencore routinely violated the collective bargaining agreement.
  • In Australia, Glencore refused to re-hire former employees at the Collinsville mine who were union members and  evicted the former workers and their families from company housing, with devastating impact on the local community.
  • In Colombia, a group of former army officers linked Glencore to a paramilitary group responsible for murdering trade unionists. The paramilitary group trained at a camp located inside a Glencore mine. Glencore has violently evicted farmers from their homes as well as violated national health and safety laws. 
  • In Peru and Colombia, the safety and health situation of workers has been particularly disturbing, with reports of how injuries to workers are commonplace with Glencore refusing to work with trade unions to address these issues. In addition, it was found that the wholesale use of sub-contracting and precarious employment by Glencore at its global operations was a major contributing factor to the alarming statistics on safety and health.
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