New book accuses mining firm of Zambia exploitation

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Copper-rich Zambia is a victim of Swiss-based commodity companies who rake in profits by exploiting developing countries, a new book out Monday claimed.

"Commodities - Switerland's Most Dangerous Business" looks at the social and environmental impact on the southern African country of a mine owned by Swiss giant Glencore.

A chapter of the book published by the non-governmental organisation Berne Declaration (BD) discusses the various means by which, they say, Glencore deprives Zambia of tax revenue.

These include the non-payment of customs duties, internal billing and shifting losses, despite Zambia's low taxes used to attract investors.

"By way of comparison, in Norway, 70 percent of oil export profit comes back to the state. In Zambia, the state's share is less than five percent," said the chapter's author, the journalist Alice Odiot.

BD has already appealed to the European union to stop all future financing by the European Investment Bank to Glencore over "serious concerns" about the mine in which it has a 73.1 percent share.

Glencore said in a statement in June that there were "factual errors" in an audit commissioned by Zambia's treasury and that it was confident of having correctly calculated and paid its taxes.

The site operated by Glencore through its subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) covers 19,000 hectares in the northern town of Mufulira in Zambia's famous copperbelt region.

The sharing of the country's copper-sourced riches is a key issue in Tuesday's election, which pits the pro-business incumbent, President Rupiah Banda, against opposition leader Michael Sata, who accuses his rival of climbing into bed with foreign investors at Zambia's expense and failing to improve life for ordinary Zambians.

Mopani chairman Emmanuel Mutati told AFP the company paid $63 million in taxes last year on profits of $78 million, and has spent millions on social and infrastructure projects like hospitals, schools and roads.

© 2011 AFP

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