Glencore works to preserve biodiversity, restore land use at legacy copper, cobalt sites

24th May 2023 By: Marleny Arnoldi - Deputy Editor Online

Glencore works to preserve biodiversity, restore land use at legacy copper, cobalt sites

A Glencore land rehabilitation project in DRC

In addition to its goal to minimise or manage the impact of its operations on the environment, diversified miner Glencore says it continues to appreciate biological diversity as a global asset of value to future generations.

The company is currently focused on returning land to sustainable use in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), particularly through its Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) and Mutanda Mining businesses, which produce copper and cobalt.

Glencore has been operating mines in the DRC since 2008.

Glencore Copper Africa head Clint Donkin says Glencore’s renewed progressive rehabilitation intent and biodiversity management plan for the DRC assets aligns with the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which was widely adopted at the 2022 United Nations Biodiversity Conference that took place in December.

Some of Glencore’s operations in the DRC date back decades, and, as such, the company has inherited a significantly altered environment in many instances.

Regardless of the legacy, Glencore puts in the effort to understand the impact of each of its mining activities on different aspects of the environment and to compile a robust biodiversity management plan.

These biodiversity management plans always cite specific risk and mitigation strategies. Glencore then draws on detailed baseline studies on terrestrial and aquatic fauna and flora to improve its performance and project outcomes.

“Progressive rehabilitation is a proactive rather than reactive activity that brings to life rehabilitation measures at the same time as mining, way before mine closure.

“Our DRC operations continually review and update their biodiversity management plans to incorporate new data and suggestions,” Donkin points out.

For example, the Miombo reforestation project, which populates a large portion of the Kolwezi region, where KCC operates the Kamoto mine, involves the planting of 100 000 seedlings each year for five years, in allocated areas surrounding KCC’s operations.

The planning comprises more than a dozen species of seedlings, including species for medicinal use. The environment at this site also lends itself to a growing species of mushroom that is a local delicacy and presents a business opportunity for the community.

Glencore also has a research and development project partnership in place with the University of Lubumbashi to trial artificial wetlands.

This project has the potential to play an important role in local ecological infrastructure and the natural treatment of stormwater using native aquatic flora species.

The company is hopeful about finding workable solutions for surface water management in the DRC, as well as the protection and enhancement of ecological infrastructure, for generations to come.