“We’ve simply been forgotten”

It is a story of organised irresponsibility that demonstrates how important it is for the Responsible Business Initiative to be adopted. 

It’s sev­en o’clock in the morn­ing. We’re stand­ing at a round­about in the vil­lage of Porco on the Bolivian Plateau and we stand out. Hundreds of mine work­ers are shuf­fling past us wear­ing track­suit trousers and hel­mets and peer­ing at us with sleepy eyes. We – Bolivian jour­nal­ist Jorge Quispe and pho­tog­ra­ph­er Christian Lombardi and I – are wait­ing for Roberto, although that is not his actu­al name. He wants to take us to the Porco mine, where zinc, sil­ver and lead have been mined here for 700 years – it is the old­est mine in Bolivia.

The mine is run by Sociedad Minera Illapa S.A. – a 100% subsidiary of Swiss company Glencore. 

In 2013, Illapa signed a 15-year asso­ci­a­tion agree­ment with the state firm Corporación Minera de Bolivia (Comibol). The com­pa­ny oper­ates on a three-shift basis, using some 400 work­ers to mine with heavy machin­ery. According to the con­tract, “all oper­a­tional aspects” come under the “exclu­sive, com­pre­hen­sive and full respon­si­bil­i­ty” of the Glencore subsidiary. 

Yet the major­i­ty of men and teenagers who are mak­ing their way to the mine in front of us do not work for Illapa. They work for one of two large coop­er­a­tives. Over 3,000 mine work­ers work for the Cooperativa Minera Porco Limitada and a good 1,500 work for Cooperative Huayana Porco. When mechan­i­cal min­ing is no longer prof­itable for the Glencore sub­sidiary, the coop­er­a­tives come into play and pick up the scraps – work­ing using basic meth­ods and at great risk.

Roberto, who has now turned up at the round­about, wants to show us what that means in prac­tice. He leads us to a truck where a few mine work­ers are already wait­ing. We climb into the back. When we get to Illapa’s check­point, Roberto asks my col­league Jorge to duck briefly. He is the only one of us who isn’t wear­ing a hel­met, which is seem­ing­ly the only thing that mat­ters when it comes to pass­ing the ‘secu­ri­ty check’ with­out a problem.

We dri­ve fur­ther, pass­ing under an osten­ta­tious arch­way with the word­ing ‘Illapa S.A.’ and past the company’s pro­cess­ing plant, up the hill to the Juan Carlos tun­nel, 4219 metres above sea. 

…all pass under the arch­way of Illapa, Glencore’s subsidiary

In the mine

Traces of sil­ver, zinc and lead: a tonne of ore is worth about USD 300.

While the min­ers lay their over­alls, which are still damp from the pre­vi­ous day, out to dry and start chew­ing coca leaves for strength, Roberto gives us a brief intro­duc­tion into life at the cooperative. 

He is one of some 200 ‘socios’ (fore­men) at the Huayana Porco coop­er­a­tive. He super­vis­es eight peo­ple. The mine coop­er­a­tives are not real­ly organ­ised as coop­er­a­tives, but rather as an asso­ci­a­tion of small busi­ness­es. These pro­vide work­ers at their own finan­cial risk, who then slog away for a set dai­ly wage or a share of the mine’s rev­enues. Many of them work with­out a con­tract and near­ly all with­out any health or acci­dent insurance. 

They have to pro­vide their own Personal Protective Equipment – so many wear hel­mets made from very cheap plas­tic and bare­ly any wear masks that effec­tive­ly pro­tect them from the dust. If a work­er is injured in the mine then the coop­er­a­tive pro­vides finan­cial sup­port for the first aid treat­ment, but the work­er has to fig­ure it out for him­self after that. 

If a miner dies, his family receives a set sum of USD 3,000.

With one eye on the work­ers who are load­ing the truck with ore, Roberto explains in a casu­al tone that this is stip­u­lat­ed by coop­er­a­tive reg­u­la­tions. Once loaded, the truck is dri­ven down the hill to Illapa’s pro­cess­ing plant. The Huayana Porco coop­er­a­tive sells most of its ore to Glencore’s sub­sidiary, says Roberto; a deliv­ery is only offered to a com­pet­ing firm in Potosí every now and again.

Child labour as a matter of course 

I speak to the youngest look­ing of Roberto’s work­ers. Juan, as we’ll call him, tells me that he first came here a year ago, to work at the mine along­side his father dur­ing the school hol­i­days. He is 15 years old. He tells us that the work is hard, but that it’s ok – he wants to use the mon­ey he earns here to buy new clothes.

Bolivian law allows for young peo­ple to take up paid employ­ment from the age of 14. However, cer­tain activ­i­ties are not per­mit­ted from such a young age – the law express­ly stip­u­lates that this includes min­ing. Nevertheless, it seems that every­one here in Porco tol­er­ates under­age work­ers at the mine. In the vil­lage of Porco, one encoun­ters dozens of seem­ing­ly under­age work­ers in the streets. The may­or Fredy Lugo will lat­er lament to us that many boys pre­fer to work at the mine than fin­ish school. 

Not even Fedecomin, the fed­er­a­tion of the mine coop­er­a­tives at Potosí, real­ly tries to deny the prob­lem. Or at least not for long. The man­ag­er who we speak to in their office ini­tial­ly asserts with utter con­vic­tion that “it is a lie that coop­er­a­tives employ under­age work­ers”. When we tell him about our obser­va­tions and meet­ings in Porco, he swift­ly changes tack, admit­ting that “the prob­lem does exist”.

Back to the moun­tain. Once his employ­ees have gone off to work, Roberto takes us into the tun­nel. With light from our head torch­es, we walk behind him into the nar­row tun­nel; we have to duck our heads repeat­ed­ly. When we encounter a rum­bling small trac­tor that is car­ry­ing ore to the sur­face, we stand against the wall so that it can pass. 

As we go fur­ther into the tun­nel, it becomes stuffi­er and hotter. 

In some places, deep holes go off the tunnel, without any security. They are too deep for us to be able to see the bottom with our head torches. 

These are the shafts that Illapa left behind. Finally, we come to the place where his work­ers are min­ing – by this point we’re 1,200 metres inside the mine. We can hear bang­ing nois­es com­ing from a deep hole. Roberto tells us that it comes from peo­ple work­ing 40 metres below us, but he doesn’t want to take us there because “it would be too dangerous”. 

Roberto doesn’t need to fear legal con­se­quences in the event that one of his work­ers has an acci­dent: there is near­ly nev­er a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing an acci­dent. If the coop­er­a­tives and sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives of the vic­tim of an acci­dent have reached a set­tle­ment, “then we don’t get involved”, a gruff police­man at the sta­tion in Porco lat­er tells us. “We’re not even aware of many of the accidents”. 

When we tell the police­man about the three mine work­ers from the Porco Limitada coop­er­a­tive who suf­fo­cat­ed at the Porco Mine a few days ago, he says that the acci­dent was clear­ly their own fault. The rel­a­tives had retrieved the corpses from the site of the acci­dent them­selves. No one had called for an autop­sy and when an attempt had been made to speak to the only sur­vivor of the acci­dent, he had already been dis­charged from the hos­pi­tal. And with that, the case was closed. 

Into the dark­ness: the entrance to ‘Juan Carlos’ at the Porco mine.

The record of accidents

Eliceo Mamani Condori fell 45 metres down a hole in the Porco mine six years ago – and has been paral­ysed ever since.

The day after vis­it­ing the mine, we meet 28-year-old Eliceo Mamani Condori in Potosí. He receives us at the premis­es of an organ­i­sa­tion that sup­ports phys­i­cal­ly dis­abled per­sons. He sits in a bat­tered wheel­chair and wears track­suit trousers with a Cooperativa Minera Porco Limitada logo embroi­dered on them. He worked for the coop­er­a­tive until that day in August 2014. 

He’d signed up to work at the mine as a 17-year-old and short­ly after­wards he was wide­ly solicit­ed – less for his work in the tun­nels, but more because of his ath­leti­cism and fan­tas­tic left foot: along­side drink­ing con­tests, foot­ball tour­na­ments are the most pop­u­lar pas­time of mine work­ers. Treasured play­ers can earn good extra cash and some­times get pref­er­en­tial treat­ment at the mine. 

This was the case for Eliceo Mamani. His ‘socio’ had giv­en him autho­ri­sa­tion to mine his own ore; they planned to split what­ev­er he made. He worked for months to get access to a site where he thought he would find min­er­al deposits. 

To get to ‘his’ sec­tion, which went straight across from the huge shaft left behind by Illapa, he had to climb up the wood­en post that the firm had used to shore up the tun­nel. When he had near­ly reached his inter­me­di­ate shelf, one of the beams col­lapsed. It might have been loos­ened by the rever­ber­a­tions from explo­sions. Eliceo Mamani can also imag­ine that oth­er mine work­ers who were after his ore may have left a trap for him. He fell 45 metres down the hole. 

Paralysed by the rescue?

Eliceo’s col­leagues bound his low­er body to a lad­der and tried to use their col­lec­tive strength to pull him up by rope. The lad­der got caught against the wall of the shaft, he got wedged in and the pain briefly brought him to, before he fell uncon­scious again. He believes that his back­bone only broke dur­ing the res­cue. Eliceo spent two weeks in a coma and when he regained con­scious­ness, the first thing he asked was whether his injuries were so seri­ous that he’d have to rearrange his foot­ball game. “When the nurse told me I’d nev­er be able to walk again, I under­stood – and I cried.” 

His wife Licet prefers not to think back to the moment when her hus­band came home from hos­pi­tal and she had to look after both him and their new­ly born daugh­ter, Maite. All she says is that “it was like hav­ing to look after two babies”.

Today, Eliceo is employed by the munic­i­pal­i­ty of Potosí as door­man at a sports facil­i­ty; he earns a fifth of what he’d pre­vi­ous­ly earnt at the mine. He now places his hope in the coop­er­a­tive where he used to work. He is plan­ning to send them a let­ter ask­ing for them to at least give a job to one of his rel­a­tives, see­ing as he him­self can no longer work. 

Twenty fatalities per year

Yet how dan­ger­ous is this work real­ly? Is it pos­si­ble to quan­ti­fy the sever­i­ty and fre­quen­cy of acci­dents at the Porco mine? As there are no reli­able sta­tis­tics, the hos­pi­tal is the best place to answer these questions. 

Doctor Reyna Paucara Canaza has worked here since 2016, and the fig­ures she shares get under your skin. 

She says that every day she treats mine workers with moderately severe to severe injuries.

The most com­mon are brain injuries and back injuries caused by falling stone slabs or falls. In the past four years of her work as a doc­tor, there have been on aver­age 20 fatal­i­ties per year at the mine. The lat­est time when com­modi­ties prices sky­rock­et­ed and the mine sought more work­ers than nor­mal – in 2017 – there was a fatal­i­ty near­ly every week. She fre­quent­ly treats 15 and 16-year olds and some­times even younger patients. 

The youngest injured mine worker she could remember was 11 years old. 

In the cas­es of the most severe injuries, the doc­tors are not able to pro­vide any more than first aid using the basic facil­i­ties at the health­care cen­tre in Porco. In such cas­es, the injured are trans­ferred to Potosí. Unfortunately they also lack equip­ment and per­son­nel for res­cues inside the mine. Injured work­ers are usu­al­ly res­cued by their col­leagues and brought to the hos­pi­tal in any truck avail­able, and yes, the doc­tor adds, this can of course lead to addi­tion­al injuries. 

The com­pa­ny Illapa in Porco does run two health­care cen­tres – which are each equipped with an ambu­lance. The prob­lem is that this doesn’t help coop­er­a­tive work­ers at all. According to an agree­ment with the state health insur­ance, “Illapa is not per­mit­ted to pro­vide ser­vices to third par­ties”, Glencore writes in response to an enquiry.

The poisoned river

Today, crop yields are not even half what they were 20 years ago, say Helena Cordoba (left) and Damiana Apaza from Churcuita.

Before we leave, we want to fol­low up on one addi­tion­al point that many women and men we’ve spo­ken to in recent days have com­plained about: pol­lu­tion of the drink­ing water below the mine. 

When we make anoth­er vis­it to the may­or Fredy Lugo who we already spoke to, he unex­pect­ed­ly ges­tures through his office win­dow to two women in tra­di­tion­al dress stand­ing in the vil­lage square. “Go and speak to them” he says “they can tell you what it’s like liv­ing below the mine”.

We go round and speak to the two women. We’re met with a sud­den rant. They are from the vil­lage of Churcuita, locat­ed sev­er­al hun­dred metres below the mine con­ces­sion. Water from the riv­er, which was pre­vi­ous­ly an excel­lent source of drink­ing water, is no longer drink­able, the 57-year-old Damiana Apaza says. She still cul­ti­vates fava beans, pota­toes, corn and veg­eta­bles, but the yields are less than half what they were 20 years ago. The milk and meat from their lamas and goats are bare­ly enjoy­able any­more, the trout that used to be in the stream has long disappeared. 

You can’t live in Churcuita anymore” she says.

We want to have a look at a vil­lage affect­ed by the min­ing activ­i­ty for our­selves. Together with envi­ron­ment engi­neer Marcela Rojas Aroni we get onto a minibus.

Marcela Rojas has been work­ing for the munic­i­pal­i­ty of Porco for a good three years – and dur­ing this time she has car­ried out two detailed stud­ies of the envi­ron­men­tal impacts of the min­ing activ­i­ties and the qual­i­ty of the water in the munic­i­pal­i­ty below the mine.

We get off at the vil­lage of Sora Molino. Marcela Rojas leads us to the for­mer drink­ing source of the vil­lage: the Agua Castilla riv­er. Now in the dry peri­od it is more a trick­le, with a red­dish glim­mer and foam bubbles. 

50 times the permitted maximum 

In September last year, at six in the morn­ing Marcela Rojas took sam­ples from the riv­er, which had always been the inhab­i­tants’ most impor­tant source of drink­ing water, and sent them to a lab­o­ra­to­ry to be analysed. The results were high­ly con­cern­ing. The per­mit­ted max­i­mum of zinc traces in drink­ing water in both Bolivia and Switzerland is 5 mil­ligrams per litre. The water in Sora Molina had 30.6 mil­ligrams per litre – six times the per­mit­ted con­cen­tra­tion of the met­al, which at high lev­els dam­ages not only plants but human organs. Iron, which is par­tic­u­lar­ly dam­ag­ing to the liv­er, was found in a con­cen­tra­tion of 8.51 mil­ligrams per litre – over 28 times the per­mit­ted max­i­mum of 0.3 mil­ligrams in Bolivia. Manganese, which in high con­cen­tra­tions impacts on cog­ni­tive and motor func­tion­ing, was present in Sora Molino to a con­cen­tra­tion of 5.29 mil­ligrams per litre – over 50 times the Bolivian per­mit­ted max­i­mum of 0.1 mil­ligram and over 100 times the per­mit­ted max­i­mum in Switzerland.

Last January, Marcela Rojas sub­mit­ted her report to the depart­ment gov­ern­ment in Potosí. What has hap­pened since then? “That is what’s frus­trat­ing” she says. Only the depart­men­tal author­i­ties have the pow­er to impose sanc­tions and order a plant to shut down for a peri­od, until it is restored. Yet that has nev­er happened.

Once, twice a year someone from the “secretariat of Mother Earth”, the environment ministry, accompanies her on an inspection, and then … nothing happens.

Together with the envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer, we make our way to the few hous­es in the vil­lage that are not dilap­i­dat­ed and are still cov­ered by intact thatched roofs. On a hill­side over­look­ing the vil­lage, the rem­nants of low walls can be seen, wit­ness­es to the ter­races that food was once cul­ti­vat­ed on. Now noth­ing apart from thick­ets grow there. In front of a yard, del­i­cate plants are grow­ing on a small field on which fava beans should one day grow. Lama coats are lying out to dry on a win­dowsill, a dog is bark­ing some­where, it’s only peo­ple that we don’t see.

We are just about to leave when we see a pick­up truck in the dis­tance, dri­ving in our direc­tion. On the back it is car­ry­ing a group of men and women dressed in black. They are rel­a­tives of 42-year-old Juana Choque, who intro­duces her­self as the “wid­ow of Xenon Cruz”. Her hus­band died exact­ly a month ago, aged 46. The griev­ing fam­i­ly came here to pay trib­ute to him. Juana Choque ges­tures to a soli­tary cross, stuck in the ground between two bush­es. “He’s buried here, and this is where I’ll be buried”. 

The riverbed of the ‘Agua Castilla’ in Porco.

Xenon Cruz worked in the mine, like near­ly all healthy men here. He was employed by the com­pa­ny Illapa – until in 2007 when he fell under a piece of machin­ery and was severe­ly injured. He nev­er ful­ly recov­ered his health. He only got a small pen­sion from the com­pa­ny, less than a third of his orig­i­nal wage. Therefore, despite his injuries he went back to work for the man­age­ment of one of the coop­er­a­tives – until he died of health com­pli­ca­tions a month ago. 

Juana Choque told us that she didn’t know how she would now feed her five chil­dren and her­self. For it’s no longer pos­si­ble to live here in Sora Molina, where she came 25 years ago, “when every­thing was still green”. 

The water from the river is poisoned – “when our lamas drink from it, it’s the end of them”. 

This comes up repeat­ed­ly. If it doesn’t rain a lot, every­thing that is plant­ed dies. The pota­toes from the last har­vest were hard and small­er than a thumb, says Juana Choque. By now she no longer man­ages to hold back her tears. “We’ve sim­ply been forgotten”.

What does Glencore say?

Naturally, this begs the ques­tion: who is respon­si­ble for the poi­soned water in the munic­i­pal­i­ty below the Porco mine? The com­pa­ny Illapa, that mines using machin­ery and a large quan­ti­ty of water? Or the poor­ly reg­u­lat­ed coop­er­a­tives? In con­trast to the coop­er­a­tives, Glencore’s sub­sidiary has a valid envi­ron­men­tal licence, says the envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer Marcela Rojas. 

However, when Illapa’s documents were audited in March, several problems were identified. 

Zinc and lead deposits were not prop­er­ly cov­ered and some chan­nels which serve to pre­vent traces from enter­ing the riv­er were miss­ing. In the ham­let Playa Verde, which is locat­ed beneath one of the reten­tion tanks oper­at­ed by Illapa, the author­i­ties test­ed the water qual­i­ty fol­low­ing com­plaints from inhab­i­tants. They found traces of lead, iron and zinc over the per­mit­ted max­i­mum lev­els. And final­ly the so-called acid mine drainage was insuf­fi­cient­ly retained.

When request­ed, Anna Krutikov from Glencore con­firmed the March 2020 audit and wrote that the offi­cial inspec­tion report “found no envi­ron­men­tal breach­es” and that the rec­om­men­da­tions for the man­age­ment of acid rock drainage “have been addressed”. In rela­tion to the water qual­i­ty she wrote that they were engag­ing with the munic­i­pal author­i­ties “to under­stand their concerns”. 

What is this due diligence worth? 

We would have liked to speak to the company’s local man­age­ment to raise our con­cerns. Yet a prospec­tive meet­ing nev­er took place and when we tried our luck at the head­quar­ters in La Paz, on the first day we were told that unfor­tu­nate­ly all man­agers are in meet­ings. On the sec­ond day we were told that unfor­tu­nate­ly all man­agers were work­ing from home and are not reach­able. The ques­tions that we sub­mit­ted in writ­ten form were ulti­mate­ly answered from the head­quar­ters in Zug. 

With regard to the agree­ments with the coop­er­a­tives, Glencore’s sus­tain­abil­i­ty head Anna Krutikov, writes to us that Illapa “has no con­tracts or agree­ments with the coop­er­a­tives”. Once the com­pa­ny “has com­plet­ed its oper­a­tions in par­tic­u­lar parts of the con­ces­sion and has no fur­ther plans to mine, it must inform Comibol, who may or may not reas­sign these areas to the coop­er­a­tives. The com­pa­ny is there­fore at least indi­rect­ly involved in decid­ing where the coop­er­a­tives are allowed to work. Numerous ‘socios’ of the coop­er­a­tives com­plain to us that Illapa only leave them ‘la basura’ (the rubbish). 

At Fedecomin, the mine coop­er­a­tives’ fed­er­a­tion, we are told that along­side the offi­cial con­tracts with Comibol there are direct infor­mal dis­cus­sions and agree­ments between Illapa and coop­er­a­tives. Yet these are often not writ­ten down and do not have “any legal status”. 

Glencore does not respond to our ques­tion on the pro­por­tion of the coop­er­a­tives’ ore that Illapa pur­chas­es, call­ing it “com­mer­cial­ly sen­si­tive” infor­ma­tion. However, it states that the pur­chas­ing con­tracts with the coop­er­a­tives “are sub­ject to due dili­gence on com­mer­cial, legal and oper­a­tional aspects, includ­ing (…) safe­ty and risks of child labour, in line with the Glencore Supplier Standards. Among oth­er things, these stan­dards include the expec­ta­tion that sup­pli­ers “have zero tol­er­ance for any form of mod­ern slav­ery, includ­ing […] child labour” and that they pro­vide “a safe and healthy work­ing envi­ron­ment, includ­ing appro­pri­ate Personal Protective Equipment”.

Looking at the cir­cum­stances on the ground in Porco, these state­ments seem down­right absurd. Anyone and every­one who looks around in Porco ear­ly in the morn­ing or at the end of the work­ing day will see that most of the mine work­ers do not have appro­pri­ate Personal Protective Equipment and that many of them are clear­ly underage. 

You have to ask yourself: what exactly did a due diligence check if it didn’t pick this up?

In terms of the checks at the entrance to the mine, Glencore writes that peo­ple who enter the area are reg­is­tered, and that one of the checks car­ried out is the use of Personal Protective Equipment. However, Illap has no author­i­ty to “force any require­ment on coop­er­a­tive members”. 

For its part, in 2019 Sinchi Wayra, the hold­ing com­pa­ny that owns Illapa S.A., report­ed to the UN Global Compact that it held a reg­u­lar dia­logue with the coop­er­a­tives on “impor­tant top­ics such as Personal Protective Equipment, the use of child labour and envi­ron­men­tal damage”. 

There were also plans to vis­it the coop­er­a­tives to ensure that “they are com­ply­ing with our con­di­tions”. We do not know whether these vis­its have tak­en place. What you can prob­a­bly say is that if they have, they obvi­ous­ly had the same effect as the dia­logue or the well-for­mu­lat­ed sen­tences in the sup­pli­er stan­dards, i.e. not much at all. 

Hurdles in red tap

We would also have liked to ask Comibol some ques­tions: what is it doing to reg­u­late the law­less­ness in the coop­er­a­tives? What respon­si­bil­i­ties does it con­sid­er the firm Illapa to have as oper­a­tor of the mine? 

The endeav­our to find answers to these and oth­er ques­tions from the Bolivian author­i­ties is prob­a­bly best described as a hur­dles cir­cuit race. Firstly, we try the region­al offices in Potosí, who refer us onto the head­quar­ters in La Paz. We go there. Assessing the work­ing con­di­tions among coop­er­a­tives is dif­fi­cult, and improv­ing them is even hard­er, we are told by the friend­ly press offi­cer there. The coop­er­a­tives are unfor­tu­nate­ly beyond the con­trol of the com­pa­ny and the author­i­ties, he adds frankly.

Yet he isn’t able to tell us any­thing about con­tracts or respon­si­bil­i­ties in rela­tion to the Porco mine. Those who could are all in meet­ings for the whole day, he says. We should sub­mit our ques­tions in writing. 

After I’ve done that, the sit­u­a­tion becomes bizarre. After two days of con­sid­er­a­tions, the press offi­cer tells us that I should address my ques­tions direct­ly to the pres­i­dent of Comibol. I do this, and final­ly I receive a let­ter from the pres­i­dent in which he states that he unfor­tu­nate­ly has to request a for­mal motion to ascer­tain that I am in fact the per­son who asked the ques­tions. I give up. 

You can’t live here anymore”

On its sus­tain­abil­i­ty page, Glencore writes: “We uphold human rights and sup­port the sus­tain­able, long-term devel­op­ment of the local com­mu­ni­ties in which we oper­ate.” It is unclear what spe­cif­ic sus­tain­abil­i­ty efforts Glencore under­takes in Bolivia – the coun­try is sim­ply not men­tioned in the Zug-based company’s lat­est 97-page sus­tain­abil­i­ty report. 

Juana Choque, the wid­ow from Sora Molina, has made her ver­dict. “The com­pa­ny took all of my husband’s strength and threw him away like a dog” she says, “and because of the poi­soned water you can’t live here anymore”. 

Please do not come to work while under the influ­ence of drugs” requests Glencore’s sub­sidiary at the entrance to the mine…

Yes to the Responsible Business Initiative

What would change if Switzerland votes yes to the Responsible Business Initiative?

If the Initiative is adopt­ed, Glencore will no longer be able to vio­late envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards and will have to ensure that the min­ing activ­i­ties no longer poi­son the Agua Castilla riv­er, which is impor­tant to the region. Otherwise, impact­ed inhab­i­tants will be able to claim com­pen­sa­tion from the head­quar­ters in Baar, in the Swiss can­ton of Zug. And Glencore must do every­thing in its pow­er, to ensure that no under­age work­ers graft in mines and that avoid­able, often fatal acci­dents no longer take place. 

Focus on Global Justice

Public Eye cam­paigns to ensure that Switzerland, as well as Swiss com­pa­nies, live up to their respon­si­bil­i­ty to respect human rights world­wide. Reports like this one are only pos­si­ble thanks to the peo­ple who sup­port us. Make a dona­tion.

Text: Timo Kollbrunner (Public Eye) 
Research: Timo Kollbrunner (Public Eye) 
& Jorge Quispe 
Photos: Christian Lombardi
Translation: Kim Park
Online adap­ta­tion: Rebekka Köppel (Public Eye)

Disclaimer: This ver­sion is a trans­la­tion of the German orig­i­nal and there­fore not legal­ly bind­ing. In cas­es of diver­gence, only the orig­i­nal text is valid. Public Eye does not accept any lia­bil­i­ty for lin­guis­tic errors, inac­cu­ra­cies or misunderstandings.


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