JOHANNESBURG – Diversified mining and marketing company Glencore on Thursday announced the launch of a $25-million fund in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will support the London- and Johannesburg-listed company’s teams that are working closely with governments, health agencies and others key responders in more than 35 countries and at 189 sites to identify their needs and provide the most effective response possible.

Glencore operates in coal and ferroalloys in three provinces in South Africa, where it employs 22 700 people and has a four-pillared sustainability strategy embracing health, safety, environment, and community and human rights.

“We’ve all witnessed the rapid spread of the virus, and the increasing need for support worldwide. That’s why today, we’re announcing the Glencore Community Support Fund,” Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg stated in a media release to Mining Weekly.

The company’s assets and offices, he said, were best placed to respond to Covid-19 in their regions and the fund would support actions that were designed and implemented locally, in collaboration with the organisations on the front line.

“We hope that these efforts will help ease the burden on our host communities as we work together towards a common goal of combatting the impact of the coronavirus. As a responsible operator, our top priority is to protect the safety and health of our people and the communities that host our businesses,” Glasenberg added.

The scale and diversity of Glencore’s operations meant that the impact of the virus varied by location. In addition, many of its operations were located in remote areas with limited public health care systems.

The $25-million fund, the company said, was designed to be flexible and responsive and complement existing efforts by local teams to provide the support their communities most needed at this time.

It will initially prioritise assistance to local health authorities and community organisations to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the crisis. Imperatives such as access to clean water, hygiene products and medical equipment will be important in some regions. In others, efforts may focus on enabling students to continue learning, despite schools being closed.

“In addition to the $25-million that we’re allocating from today, our offices and assets have been mobilising their skills and resources to provide local in-kind support where we have the capacity to do so. We have also been adapting and tailoring some of our existing social investment programmes to address the changing social needs during the crisis. In the longer term, we will also transition to a recovery focus in light of the expected socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic,” Glasenberg said. –