Glencore boss defends coal again at general meeting

Glencore boss defends coal again at general meeting
Glencore boss defends coal again at general meeting

Zurich (awp/afp) – The boss of the Zurich raw materials giant Glencore has once again defended his commitment to coal, deeming this activity necessary immediately, even if it earns him criticism from climate activists.

“The world is hungry for energy and we continue to supply these energy needs through a portfolio of steam coal,” Gary Nagle, its chief executive, told his shareholders gathered at the Theater-Casino in Zug.

“Fossil fuels have no long-term future in this world,” he said, “but they are necessary in the short and medium term” to ensure the energy transition and move from “an intensive world in carbon to a carbon-free world”, he defended.

While its competitors like Rio Tinto or Anglo American are withdrawing from coal, Glencore firmly maintains this activity, saying it wants to manage its mines responsibly by closing them as they become depleted.

In 2022, this strategy paid off for the group – active in both materials trading and mining – as coal prices soared in the face of the energy crisis triggered by the war in Ukraine. .

Its annual net profit jumped to $17.3 billion in 2022 before falling to around $4.3 billion in 2023 when prices fell.

“In a traditional year, coal represents less than 10% of our turnover,” said Mr. Nagle, specifying that the share of coal in the group’s sales – also active in metals such as copper, zinc and cobalt – is expected to decrease over time.

This coal strategy regularly attracts criticism, including from investors. In 2020, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest investor, placed him on its exclusion list.

On Wednesday, around fifty people, including environmental activists and representatives of the IndustriAll trade union federation, stationed themselves at the entrance to the Theater-Casino in Zug to demand that Glencore divest from coal and respect workers’ rights. A dozen drums, dusted in black, beat the rhythm, in a cloud of dust symbolizing coal pollution.

At the general meeting, the shareholders accepted all the proposals of the board of directors. In particular, they reappointed the administrators for a further period of one year. They also approved the remuneration reports of the board of directors and management.

afp/rp/al

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