Glencore in position to double copper output using fossil fuel cash flows

8th December 2022

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – Diversified mining and marketing company Glencore will halve the production of its fossil fuel business between now and 2035 and in that time use the cash flows from that fossil business to double production of its copper business.

“So, a very neat and tidy use of our fossil fuels, firstly to provide the energy of today and also to provide the cash flow to build the energy infrastructure of tomorrow,” Glencore CEO Gary Nagle stated during the company’s investor update covered by Mining Weekly.

Even if Glencore builds all the copper assets it has, including its greenfield copper asset in Argentina, and even if all its competitors do whatever they can in copper, the world is still likely to be short of copper, said Nagle of a planet that is transitioning from fossil-fuel-based energy to renewables.

On recycling helping to fill the copper supply gap, Nagle drew attention to Glencore’s recycling business last year producing more than 40 000 t of copper and this year showing even more circularity potential to produce considerably more metal.

“The circular economy is critical towards a decarbonised future and as we invest in our recycling business and we produce more and more material out of it, it becomes integral in how we develop our mining operations and how we work in our marketing business,” said Nagle.

Partnerships and relationships have been established with recyclers such as Li-Cycle, Ace Green Recycling and Lohum. In addition, Glencore is repurposing its own Britannia Refined Metals into a more developed recycling business.

Historically, Glencore mining companies have operated in mining refining, after which they have handed down to the battery manufacturers and the e-manufacturers.

But there are now several circularity enhancement opportunities that Glencore can take up by reprocessing, refeeding, refining and reselling battery scrap back into the precursor market, for instance.

“We take the batteries, we recycle them, we refine them and we refeed them back into the precursor market and into the cathode active material market – a neat recycling loop. We participate at various points along the cycle, ensuring the circular economy of reusing that material,” Nagle explained.

With its suite of smelting assets, collecting/distribution networks, and marketing business, Glencore is able to access, process and redistribute the materials to customers.

“The markets we operate in are really uninvested today. We see stock levels within the commodities that we market and we produce at record low levels. We see investment in new operations around the world also at very low levels and no material new tonnes coming on.

“But we see a huge growing demand for the materials that we produce, both for today’s energy needs and for tomorrow’s decarbonisation and that’s where the opportunity arises for us, to be able to fill that gap and really maximise value for our stakeholders,” said Nagle.

“We produce, we recycle, we market, we distribute, we source, we’re across the spectrum in everything that we do in all the commodities that we’re in and it allows us huge amounts of flexibility in our business to be able to adjust to the needs of the world and what our customers need to maximise value.

“Associated with that is also our pipeline of projects. As the world grows and as we see the continued push towards decarbonisation, our pipeline of projects, and in our copper department, will be able to fill part of the gap required to meet the growing demands of the world tomorrow,” said Nagle.

Glencore, as it stands, is multi-dimensional and multi-functional, producing minerals needed for now as well as future metals and advancing a well-established marketing business.

These two businesses, the industrial business and the marketing business, lever off each other and together, the whole is considerably greater than the sum of its parts.

The marketing business is able to use the units and the tonnes of the industrial business to create value, and the industrial business uses the knowledge of the marketing business to leverage its position through qualities, blending and use of various infrastructure.

Interlinked with the two business is a carbon solution for Glencore itself and its customers.

Inherently it has its own carbon footprint and through the marketing and industrial business carbon overlay allows Glencore to maximise that position.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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