Glencore facing child labour, acid dumping allegations

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Mining giant Glencore, poised to form a merger with Xstrata to form the world’s largest resources company, has been accused of dumping raw acid and profiting off child labour.

The Guardian reports an investigation by the BBC’s Panorama has found Glencore dumping acid into a river and children working in one of its abandoned mines.

Glencore stopped operating the Tilwezembe mine in 2008 and the site has since been taken over by a local firm that pays freelance workers.

Some workers employed by the new organisation are reportedly as young as ten.

Glencore still owns the licence for the mine and plans to restart operations.

Company CEO Ivan Glasenberg told reporters the child miners were part of a group that "raided our land in 2010 against all of our authorisation".

"We definitely do not profit from child labour in any part of the world. This is adhered to strictly," he said.

Glasenberg said Glencore was pleading with the local Government to remove the illegal miners from its lease.

Panorama reports there is strong evidence to suggest Glencore receives copper indirectly from the Tilwezembe mine.

Reporters from the program tracked ore from the site and said it eventually ended up in a Glencore owned smelter in Zambia.

Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo has long been linked to human rights abuses, and while most western companies have little presence in the area Glencore is not the only organisation to come under fire for its operations in the region.

Earlier this year Australian Mining took an in-depth look at mining in the DRC and how western companies and consumer appetites are helping fund its human rights abuses.

Image: Reuters/ Finbarr O’Rilley

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